Were I a college basketball coach, I would probably want to stay as far away from Xavier and Cincinnati as possible right now. Both teams severely damaged their school's reputations with Saturday's ugly brawl, and both schools are currently dealing with the massive fallout and public relations nightmares that were always sure to follow. (We'll have reaction to Cincinnati's news conference on the blog soon.) To make matters worse, both schools botched their players' respective punishments. It's a mess. One is best advised to steer clear.
Apparently, Sean Miller disagrees. The current Arizona and former Xavier coach spoke out in support of his former players Saturday. From the Arizona Daily Star:
"If Cincinnati tries to do what they did (Saturday) they're going to get a fight," Miller said after UA beat Clemson on Saturday. "So I'm proud of those guys." [...] "They have a chance to win it all," Miller said. "It's just such a great story. I'm really proud of those guys and I watch them any time that I can. No one's going to bully those guys."
One more comment, again from the Daily Star:
Miller said he was not surprised Saturday's Xavier-Cincinnati intra-city rivalry game featured a brawl that resulted in eight player suspensions. "Happens every game. I'm proud of those guys, I really am," Miller said of Xavier, his former team. "I would fully expect there to be a fight."
Lo and behold, that seems to be the exact same attitude Xavier stars Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway took in their postgame news conferences, the ones that included poorly chosen phrases like "gangsters" and "thugs" and "where we come from" and only drew further criticism and ire.
If I may say so myself, it's a warped definition of "toughness." That definition says physical toughness is more important than mental wherewithal. It says talking trash to opponents late in a blowout -- "zipping them up," as Tu Holloway put it -- and being willing to go toe to toe in a fistfight is a more valuable trait than the ability to win with dignity and class. It says toughness is about posture and knuckles, not about the ability to be the bigger person, to merely prove your superiority on the court, to let your play do the talking. How could Miller be proud of that? How could he support anything he saw on Saturday? How does that even compute?
Cincinnati-Xavier erupted into what it did because nobody involved apparently understood what "toughness" really is. That's the biggest criticism we've heard in the past few days, especially of Xavier -- that "these guys just don't get it."
If their former coach is "proud" of what he saw Saturday, well, no wonder.