An Ohio prosecutor is considering criminal charges in the wake of Saturday’s bench-clearing brawl between cross-city basketball rivals Cincinnati and Xavier.
Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said he would review the game to determine if criminal charges such as aggravated battery are appropriate. The two schools suspended eight players on Sunday over the incident and now their coaches are struggling to make sense of what happened.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, appearing on ESPN, threatened to keep his players benched if they don’t apologize publicly: “They’re going to sit in front of a camera and say how sorry they are and how grateful they are for getting a second chance.” Cronin suggested the episode was personally humiliating. “I’ve never been this embarrassed.”
The most egregious punch was thrown by Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates, who smashed Xavier’s Kenny Frease in the face, leaving him with a swollen black eye. Cincinnati suspended Gates, junior Cheikh Mbodj and freshman Octavius Ellis for six games each. Freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn was suspended for one game. Cronin said the four suspended players will have to earn their way back on to the team.
“They have no idea of how lucky they are to even be on this team, at this school, let alone to be on scholarships,” the angry coach said.
But Xavier players defended their actions after the game. At a post-game news conference, star guard Tru Holloway complained of being “disrespected” by Cincinnati players before the game. “We got a whole lot of gangsters in the locker room, not thugs but tough on the court.”
Those words led to a one-game suspension as Xavier coach Chris Mack clearly was unhappy with Holloway’s remarks. “It was the wrong choice of words and it’s a problem and our fault for putting them up there (at a news conference) in the first place,” Mack added.
Xavier suspended three other players: Dezmine Wells, who was ejected, along with Landen Amos, and Mark Lyons. The fight led game officials to call the game with 9.4 seconds left and 8th-ranked Xavier leading 76-53.