When basketball fanatics use the phrase "getting the boot", they normally speak of getting ejected from further competition. Last night, in a college basketball game between the Houston Cougars and Arizona Wildcats, the phrase held true but was taken to new heights.
Controversy began as mixed emotions erupted at the McKale Center. With tension high, 9:51 left in regulation and the visiting Houston Cougars up by 12, Arizona Wildcats forward Chase Budinger fell to the floor after taking a routine charge. The end results were something beyond normality.
Houston's leading scorer and rebounder, Aubrey Coleman, the recipient of the charging foul, took some normal steps towards Budinger, who was on the ground. About eight feet from where the foul took place, Budinger laid on the floor with his eyes closed, uncertain of the event about to occur.
Aubrey Coleman had been taking a few stops towards Budinger and didn't intend to stop. He planted his foot right into the face of the Wildcats star player, stepping right on him like nothing had happened. Budinger sprung up and appeared to throw a punch. Budinger received a technical foul for his retaliation, and Coleman was ejected from the contest.
Reminiscent of the 1992 Regional Final game between the Kentucky Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils, the one in which Christian Laettner sunk the Wildcats at the buzzer to advance and later win it all, provides further recollection on an event like this one.
In a similar situation, Duke's Christian Laettner drove towards the basket and knocked over Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake. While Timberlake was still on the ground, Laettner stumbled backwards, re-gained his balance, and then stepped right on the chest of Timberlake.
Although the moment didn't escalate like that of Budinger's and Coleman's, Laettner was charged with a technical foul. Laettner later admitted to the incident, claiming that Timberlake had "pushed him down earlier in the game, maybe one or two minutes before" and that he had made a mental note to get back at him and be physical with him.
Timberlake sprung up quickly, much like Budinger had done in the comparable incident last night, but didn't attempt to retaliate. Instead, he just clapped and smiled, and watched as Laettner had received a technical foul.
Kentucky fans still wonder to this day why Christian Laettner was not ejected from further competition. Had he been ejected, the end result might have been different. Laettner later beat Kentucky at the buzzer in overtime.
While Laettner later admitted to his wrongdoings, Coleman has shown no signs of sympathy towards Chase Budinger. In fact, Houston head coach Tom Penders didn't even feel as though his player, Aubrey Coleman, should have been ejected. Penders said, "Aubrey said that he turned around to see what the refs called, and he stumbled over a prone Budinger".
Penders also added "Aubrey's not that kind of player. Had he kicked [Budinger] or thrown a punch, then I could understand [the ejection]."
In the case of Laettner, who before confessing the truth behind his incident, noted at the fact that he was losing his balance and barely stepped on Timberlake's chest. While the video evidence disproves this fact, it is more believable than what Houston head coach Tom Pender's is trying to sell.
As they say, "revenge is a dish best served cold." Arizona definitely delivered what Houston had coming their way, as the Wildcats rallied to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, and ultimately won it in the extended time frame, 96-90.
Chase Budinger felt as though this incident was intentional, saying, "He stepped on a part of my face, and my arm right here. You can see some footprints on my jersey here."
Although the media found it funny, there are many Wildcat fans, Cougar fans, and basketball fans in general that does not approve of something like this.
What put the icing on the cake, so to speak, was Coleman's appreciation of the "accidental" stepping on the face of Budinger. The cameras caught Coleman giving high fives to his teammates after the incident occurred, and smiling.
This is simply something that should not happen at any level of basketball. It is a sign of disrespect, poor sportsmanship, and an event that goes off the court. I'm one fan that will be very surprised if some type of penalty, a suspension at the least, is not imposed.