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Keep your cool when hot

By Larry Pritchett
Past PCHS activities director

Last weekend there was an ugly incident that happened in the last few seconds of the Oklahoma State and Texas Tech men’s basketball game in Lubbock, Texas. It could have been a lot worse, but it was bad enough.
Marcus Smart, an outstanding player for OSU, attempted to block a last second lay-up by a Texas Tech player and ended up rolling into the photographers that usually line the area just off the floor.
While being helped up, Smart quickly turned and jumped through the photo guys and accosted a fan. The exchange ended with Smart shoving the Texas Tech fan with both hands.
It wasn’t a love tap, it was a good shove. The fan didn’t fall but it moved him backwards a little. Smart got hit with a technical and Tech won the game, but the story didn’t end there.
Smart is a very talented player who could have turned pro after last year’s freshman season but chose to come back.
This year has not been as productive as many thought it would be for Smart and the Cowboys are in a team slump to boot. They have lost five of their last six games and Smart in one of those losses had another meltdown where he took his wrath out on a sideline chair. Although not a smart move on Smart’s part at least it was a melt down towards a lifeless object. He apologized to his teammates, his coaches and said it would never happen again.
On the surface it just sounds like a kid struggling with his game and with the season in general. But then you find out that the fan in this incident, Jim Orr, who is described as Texas Tech’s biggest fan, had been in a similar incident a couple of seasons ago.
In some reports Saturday night, it was suggested that the “N” word was used and to watch the film, you have to think there was just a little more than frustration involved on Smart’s part. You can see the so-called adults in the tape whose actions to me were less than adult-like.
You would like to think that people would conduct themselves a little better than that but you know some don’t.
I know that as a coach I would not want anyone on my coaching staff or our fans getting on opposing players. Your admission price doesn’t really include that, even though I have heard that as an excuse.
When fans and players get into heated discussions the whole situation can get out of hand in a heartbeat. A few years ago in the pros the players ended up going into the stands and it was double ugly. You certainly would not want that to happen at a high school or college game or for that matter never at a pro game again.
In basketball the closeness of the fans to the floor can lend itself to interaction that can get bad in a hurry.
OSU was going to have a news conference on Sunday to report on the incident and I would bet that some of the punishment would be suspension for Marcus Smart.
Smart was not ejected from the game and one report was that the officials do not have that option in a situation like that.
There were only seconds left in the game so that helped but I think I would have gotten Smart off the floor and to the locker room a little quicker than OSU officials did, if for no other reason than trying to keep him from harm.
The win for Texas Tech was upset and the student section rushed the floor so there was plenty of opportunity for some other problems to break out. Students are not always the smartest people in situations like this.
I would say that if something racial was used, then Tech’s biggest fan should only have the option of watching Tech games on TV.
It will be an interesting news conference to see how much more information will be released. Whatever happens, you would hope that this is a limited thing and people on both sides of it become more adult-like in the future.
In my years of coaching I only had a couple of incidents that may have the possibility of getting out of hand but didn’t come close.
One I didn’t start, but it certainly didn’t help anything, a melt-down of my own was with another coach after a game. It was stupid and I knew better, but sometimes you just act like an idiot and I did that.
Another time it involved a husband and wife fans from the opposing team. It was a district final game and we were winning. At a time-out very close to the end of the game I found way too many people in our huddle on the floor with us.
It was a couple that wanted to make sure that I got some sun on a beach or something like that.
Then it was nice to have an assistant much like Coach Fred Bessler from Imperial to escort the couple to the sidelines and to a waiting law enforcement officer.
That one was way more humorous because they were just trying to express their concern for my paleness I guess. Yes, there was alcohol involved, but not on Fred and my part.
On a very good happening this past week, Nebraska men’s basketball team won a game on the road at Northwestern and that is progress.