UK Men's Basketball

Refs made right call not tossing Cousins

Leftovers from Saturday's UFC event at Rupp Arena:

■ Let's give the refs a little credit. Turns out that Tony Greene, Doug Shows and John Cahill knew more than Clark Kellogg, Seth Davis and the overheated Tim Brando.

Apparently, the officials used the sideline monitor to see the entire replay of first Louisville's Jared Swopshire (inadvertently?) kneeing DeMarcus Cousins in the head, before Cousins retaliated with a forearm shiver to Swopshire's neck as the two were on the floor wrestling over a loose ball.

Kellogg said Cousins could have been ejected, apparently without seeing Swopshire's knee-action. Brando called it "unconscionable" that Cousins wasn't tossed.

Instead, the officials made the right call — teeing up Swopshire and U of L's Reggie Delk, and then after viewing the replay, Cousins. No one got tossed, nor should they have been. It was 45 seconds into the game, and no official wants to eject a player that early, especially in an important game, unless the transgression is so egregious it cannot be ignored.

■ That said, I still go back to the fact that that wasn't basketball on Saturday. It was intense, and both teams played hard, but it wasn't basketball. Not the basketball I want to watch. It was too much about respect and disrespect and not enough about teamwork and artistry. And I thought the Billy Gillispie "got to get tougher" days were over.

■ Was told that John Calipari was pretty intense himself just before the game, telling his team not to back down, etc., even telling his team not go overboard with the pre-game hand shakes.

Of course, this was after there was apparently some trash-talking during warm-ups and in the huddle. And I think it was also because Calipari knew he had a young team that hadn't played in that type of game, with that type of atmosphere, against that type of an opponent, and coach.

Example: John Wall said that the technical fouls he and Louisville's Jerry Smith received began when Smith tried to bump Wall out of his spot on an in-bounds play.

That's a Pitino thing. The coach is such a master of preparation, knowing the other team's every tendency and nuance, he surely knew the spots where Kentucky wants its players to be on an in-bounds play.

His instruction to Smith was not to let Wall have that spot. Calipari's instruction to Wall was not to let Smith move him out of that spot. And two objects cannot hold the same spot.

■ Let's give Pitino his props, and not just for that (symbolic?) red scarf he wore to the post-game. Rick has had his problems, but he can still coach. He gave his team the best chance to win, and despite a dreadful offensive performance, the Cardinals could have won.

■ Back to Cousins. The big guy better get used to what happened Saturday. We're heading into SEC play now, where every opponent knows every other opponent like the back of their hand. Foes are going to try and exploit Cousins' emotional nature, early and often. Cal says the freshman is growing up. His maturation level is about to be put to a 16-game test.

■ Without a doubt, the Rupp police cracked down on free speech Saturday, confiscating posters, signs, etc. But I'm not sure that was a bad thing.

After all, would one day of fun, at Pitino's expense, be worth all that negative national press?

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