The Xavier-Cincinnati brawl is destined for an endless life on YouTube and SportsCenter. But before we go overboard, Bomani Jones has 10 important questions about the fight — and the answers to them.
With no college football, the hits on this Saturday came from one of the best basketball rivalries in America. But before the columnists unload on Cincinnati and Xavier with their favorite weapon – righteous indignation – let's throw out a few questions worth answering. It's only right we do that much before going overboard about the fight, these players, their programs and their generation.
What was Kenny Frease doing?
This is an important question, since the haymaker he took from Yancy Gates is the moment from this fight that will be re-run ad nauseam. Frease seemed to get into the fight to play peacemaker. However, standing in the middle of a fight and pushing the other side isn't going to de-escalate anything. One of those people he touched? Yancy Gates.
Kids, trust me: playing peacemaker is a dangerous game. If you don't believe me, remember the most famous one in NBA history.
What were Xavier's coaches doing?
Fans outside Ohio may not realize what an intense rivalry Cincy-Xavier is, but each coach does. They knew when Sean Kilpatrick said Tu Holloway couldn't start at Cincinnati. They knew when the smack talk flew during the national anthem. And they did little, if anything, to stop their players from turning a blowout into the lead story on SportsCenter. And as the chaos cooled, you saw Chris Mack calmly talking to Holloway on the floor. Maybe he wanted to find out if he missed anything good?
What were Cincinnati's coaches doing?
This happened in front of their bench. Instantly, every player not on the floor left his seat to join the fight the millisecond it started. Mick Cronin said he saw this building, but what did he and his assistants say before it did? How could a player two seats from an assistant start toward the court before Dezmine Wells pushed Ge-Lawn Guyn, but said assistant not notice? What about the assistant who let Guyn – who got into something early in the game – loose toward the end, when he was running around the brawl to find someone to fight? Speaking of assistants...
Was that Aaron Williams?
Yes, it was. Always funny to see who's in the background in chaotic situations. And, for the first time since the 2003 NBA Finals, I saw Williams on television. If he bodied up Tim Duncan the same way he tried to restrain Gates, I see why Duncan won Finals MVP. And while we're on it...
Are coaches not allowed to wrap players up?
If it's OK for the coaches to put their hands on players and push them away, why wasn't anyone doing more with Gates, who was clearly out of control? Williams had his hands on his waist while another coach pushed him away. So no one could put him in the bear hug and calm him down before he got the district attorney's attention? Is Cincy's staff afraid of its own guys?
What in the world was Mick Cronin was talking about after the game?
The media loved Cronin's post-game presser, but why? He said all the right things and seemed appropriately embarrassed, but he would lead you to believe he watched this fight on television instead of having the best seat in the house. When the whole team wants to fight, "I was going to call a timeout" rings hollow, especially when the coach floated around the periphery as things got started. If that wasn't enough, for Cronin – the man who gave Lance Stephenson a scholarship – to spin into mentor mode and remind us his players are "here to get an education" is to insult our collective intelligence. They, like Born Ready, are there to play basketball for their coach. When, to a man, their reaction is the same, no amount of clichéd grandstanding or promises of punishment and control could deflect attention from Cronin's gross negligence.
What's wrong with these guys that kept trying to fight Yancy Gates?
Gates' last college game – he's surely done – will be remembered for his shot on Frease and contorted expression (though Cheikh Mbodj's subsequent stomp on Frease was the most shameful thing of all). If you saw that, why would you want more with him? One Xavier bench warmer approached Gates while Cincy assistants stood between them, still got hit, and missed on his own punch. No, making peace isn't necessarily the best idea. But making war? Gates' guns were no joke.
Who let Tu Holloway talk to the media?
By now, you've heard the "body bag" and "gangster" comments. He was 100 percent wrong and that's why you don't put a kid in front of reporters within an hour of a battle royal. No, Xavier didn't put anyone in a body bag. No, the Musketeers aren't gangsters. No self-respecting gang would take so long to get to the fight. Still, I wish someone would have saved him – and the Xavier program – from himself.
Are you as outraged as you say you are?
From commentators to journalists to fans, the immediate reaction on social media was indignant. But do you remember this?
That's a team of college kids being attacked by a team full of officers in the Chinese army. Even as Georgetown's players tried to run away, they were kicked and beaten with chairs as the crowd threw debris onto the court.
Did that make you angry, too?
What's wrong with these young guys?
Your guess is as good as mine.