2011 Crosstown Shootout brawl

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The 2011 Crosstown Shootout brawl, nicknamed The Crosstown Punch-Out, was a bench-clearing brawl that took place at the end of the 2011 edition of the Crosstown Shootout college basketball game between the University of Cincinnati Bearcats and the Xavier University Musketeers. The game took place on December 11, 2011 at Xavier's home arena, the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Background[edit]

The Crosstown Shootout has always been one of the more intense rivalries in college basketball, all the more so because Xavier and UC are only two miles (3.2 km) apart—making it one of the closest rivalries in the nation.[citation needed] There has always been a fair amount of trash talk between the two schools, and the 2011 game was no different. On December 8, UC guard Sean Kilpatrick told Andy Furman of WQRT that Xavier's All-American guard Tu Holloway probably wouldn't start for the Bearcats "with the players that we have now."[1]

The series had developed a history of bad blood in the years leading up to the 2011 Crosstown Shootout.
In 2010, Xavier's Tu Holloway received a Technical Foul for throwing an elbow late in UC's 66-46 win.
In 2009, multiple bench clearing verbal exchanges resulting in Technicals called on XU's Jordan Crawford and UC's Rashad Bishop in XU's Double-Overtime win.
In 2008, a total of six Technicals were called in a 76-66 XU win. XU's Derrick Brown was ejected, and two Freshman post players were involved in an altercation that included a heavy dose of foreshadowing: XU's Kenny Frease head-butted UC's Yancy Gates (both players received Technicals). The altercation between Frease and Gates in 2008 set the tone for bad blood between the two, and may have motivated Gates to seek revenge in 2011.

The brawl[edit]

The game was close at first, with eight ties and six lead changes in the first half. Xavier led 34-25 at halftime.[2] The first sign of trouble occurred in the closing seconds of the first half, when Bearcat backup Octavius Ellis began exchanging some words with Xavier player Mark Lyons from the bench. Lyons then confronted Ellis and the two players had to be separated. Before the start of the second half, according to Xavier coach Chris Mack, both teams were warned that any further incident would result in technical fouls.[3] The Musketeers started the second half on a 9-2 run and were never seriously threatened afterward.[4] Ultimately, the Musketeers outscored the Bearcats 42-28 in the second half.[2]

With 18.6 seconds remaining, Tu Holloway scored on a layup to give the Musketeers a 76-53 lead. As the players headed down the court, Holloway started yelling at UC's Ge'Lawn Guyn. Holloway paused in front of the UC bench and started yelling at the Bearcats bench.[4] Holloway and Guyn ended up getting in each other's faces. Holloway lightly slaps Guyn in the face. As Guyn goes to do the same to Holloway, he is shoved to the floor by Xavier's Dezmine Wells. UC's Yancy Gates then threw the ball at Holloway, and both benches emptied. In the ensuing fracas, Gates punched Xavier's Kenny Frease from the side, in the middle of a scrum, opening up a large cut under Frease's left eye. As Frease tried to get up from the floor, UC's Cheikh Mbodj kicked him. Gates exchanged punches with a Xavier backup, and Wells was also seen throwing punches at UC backups.[5]

Referees Michael Roberts, Jeff Anderson and Tony Crisp ended the game with 9.4 seconds left, which Xavier won 76-53. UC's Gates and Mbodj and Xavier's Wells were retroactively ejected from the game for fighting. Under NCAA rules, they were suspended for their at least their respective teams' next game, a sanction that cannot be appealed.

Aftermath[edit]

After the game, Holloway claimed the Bearcats had "disrespected" his teammates in the run-up to the game. However, he said, "we went out there and zipped them up at the end of the game." He also added that he and his teammates considered themselves "gangsters." Lyons added, "If somebody puts their hand in your face or tries to do something to you, where we're from you're gonna do something back."[5]

UC coach Mick Cronin was so angry at how his players behaved that he ordered them to take off their jerseys in the locker room, and in some cases physically took them off. In his postgame comments, a visibly angry Cronin said that he told his players not to put them on again "until they have a full understanding of where they go to school and what the university stands for and how lucky they are to even be there, let alone have a scholarship." He also hinted that several players could face suspensions, and possibly dismissal from the team, saying that he was going to review the tape with school president Gregory H. Williams and athletic director Whit Babcock "and decide who's going to be on my team going forward." He also appeared to blame the referees for not taking control of the situation sooner (threats of technicals after the first-half incident notwithstanding), saying that Musketeer players were yelling at his bench for the whole game and even cursing at his coaches. Cronin said he tried to call a time out before the brawl broke out so the players could go to their respective benches, but couldn't get the officials' attention.[6]

Later that night, Cronin spoke with ESPN's Andy Katz and reiterated that there would be additional suspensions coming. "Nobody is going to walk on our side," he said. He also said this was the most embarrassing moment of his coaching career. Mack was somewhat more restrained in his remarks, saying he wasn't "in a position to be a decision maker," but that his players needed to learn "how to handle themselves and not let that happen again." Earlier, Mack had tweeted, "If my players say they've been taught to be tough their whole life, they mean ON THE FLOOR. Nothing else is condoned."[7]

Both schools' presidents issued statements condemning the brawl. UC's Williams strongly supported Cronin's postgame remarks, saying that the brawl was "not what we expect of representatives of the University of Cincinnati" and that school officials would "act swiftly and firmly" to ensure it never happened again.[8] Xavier's Michael J. Graham called the brawl "unsportsmanlike" and apologized to Xavier's fans and "the entire Cincinnati community."[9]

The Big East Conference and Atlantic 10 Conference, the home conferences for UC and Xavier respectively, also condemned the brawl and promised to hand down additional suspensions if they feel the schools haven't acted harshly enough.[7]

On December 11, both schools announced suspensions for the players involved. UC suspended Gates, Mbodj and Ellis for six games each, and Guyn for one game. Cronin said that the four players will still have to earn their way back onto the team even after they serve out their suspensions. At the very least, Cronin said, they will have to sincerely apologize on camera and complete several other unspecified tasks. Xavier suspended Wells and Landen Amos for four games, Lyons for two and Holloway for one. Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski also apologized for Holloway and Lyons' postgame remarks. Mack said that Holloway was suspended specifically for his postgame comments, and admitted that neither he nor Lyons should have been before the media.[10]

On December 11, Mack, Holloway, Lyons and Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski, all apologized for what occurred. Mike Bobinski said "It was an embarrassment. It was a disappointment at every level. We take full responsibility for the role that we played in those events and are resolved to whatever is necessary to see to it that it never happens again."[11] Tu Holloway also apologized for post game comments saying " Myself, I used the wrong choice of words. I represent Xavier University, my family and myself and I really apologize for what took place."[11]

On December 12, an emotional Gates apologized for his actions, saying they were "not what my family is about." Guyn, Ellis and Mbodj also apologized.[12] On the same day, Hamilton County, Ohio prosecutor Joe Deters said he was considering filing criminal charges related to the brawl. Under Ohio law, Deters' office would handle the case if the charges rose to the level of felonies; Cincinnati city solicitor John Curp would prosecute if they are only misdemeanors. There is no known instance of criminal charges being filed as a result of a brawl at an NCAA game.[13] Two days later, Deters announced he would not file charges. He also indicated that Gates and Frease had "reached out to each other privately", and that Frease was satisfied with a personal apology from Gates.[14] On that same day XU athletic Director Mike Bobinski used head coach Chris Mack's radio show to again apologize and take questions from fans concerning the incident.

On December 18, Prior to Xavier's Men's basketball game vs Oral Roberts, Mack took the floor, again to apologize for the incident that had occurred in the prior game. Coach Mack said ""We were all embarrassed by our behavior last weekend," "It's extremely disappointing and in no way was a representation of what our university and our basketball program is all about." [15]

Partly due to the incident, Xavier and UC officials decided to move the game to U. S. Bank Arena for at least the next two seasons and rename it the Crosstown Classic. Player and fan behavior will be reevaluated after the 2013 game, and will be a major factor in determining whether the series will continue.[16][17]

References[edit]