Big Ten sends reminder after flagrant fouls abound

February, 2, 2009

Last week, Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft set a pick Purdue's Lewis Jackson didn't see, and the result was a concussion for Jackson.

The play, which wasn't called a foul, prompted the Big Ten to ensure that its officials understand the need to look for any inadvertent elbows.

The Big Ten's reminder to look for flagrant fouls and to use the monitor as necessary after the call to ensure a flagrant foul and possible ejection was reinforced by a memo sent out by the NCAA's coordinator of officials, John Adams.

One of the officials in that Tuesday Purdue-Wisconsin game was Jim Burr. He also worked the Michigan-Purdue game Saturday. He made the call to eject Michigan's Manny Harris after Harris, on the top of the perimeter, swung his elbow to create space to make a move and connected with Purdue's Chris Kramer's face, breaking Kramer's nose. Harris was whistled for a foul, Burr went to the monitor and Harris was issued a flagrant foul and an ejection, much to the dismay of Harris and Michigan coach John Beilein. Michigan, which held a 26-25 lead with Harris in the game, lost 67-49 without its 17.2-points-a-game scorer.

"There was no intent to injure Kramer, but he makes contact,'' Adams said. "The only option for Burr is to call a flagrant foul and to eject him. [Harris] makes contact.''

Adams said he issues a bulletin every month to look at a specific issue. Increased incidents of elbow clears was one of these issues. Adams reiterated that an official can go to the monitor after a personal foul is called to see whether it is flagrant. He said there is heightened awareness for officials like Burr to look for contact resulting from an elbow.

"As soon as there is an excessive use of the elbow, there is no option for the official -- he must call a flagrant foul and eject the player by rule,'' Adams said. "You can't read intent. How would we read intent?''

Adams went on to say that once Harris had the ball, he was responsible for his actions.

"Manny Harris had an inadvertent elbow,'' Adams said. "It wasn't a judgment for Burr. Harris made contact, it's a flagrant foul. You tell the coach that's the rule. In this case, I'm defending [Burr] that he made the right call. But there was no intent for Harris to injure.''

And that is a key statement by Adams -- an official cannot rule on intent because there is no way to know whether a player intended to hurt another.

On Wednesday, Michigan's Zack Novak swung back his elbow at the free throw line and connected with Ohio State's P.J. Hill late in a 72-54 loss to the Buckeyes. Novak was ejected from the game.

In that instance, Novak was suspended by Beilein (and signed off by the Big Ten) for the subsequent Purdue game.

"The Big Ten didn't suspend him; the university did,'' Beilein said. "What he did was wrong. That was wrong. Novak ran sprints every day. We don't teach or condone any of that. You can look at the angles, but I believe that what Manny did was a basketball move.''

Beilein said Novak, who hadn't been in trouble all season, was "out of character'' in that moment and as a result missed a game in his home state against Purdue. According to Beilein, the Harris elbow shouldn't be compared to Novak's.

"I've coached 35 years, and [Novak's ejection] was an isolated incident, and [Harris'] was a judgment call,'' Beilein said. "It wasn't intentional. My guys don't do that stuff.''

Beilein did think Kramer was in close on Harris, and that's why his face was caught by Harris' elbow when Harris swept across the space. Still, Beilein was quick to praise Kramer's defense, saying "I've never seen a guy with such quick hands.''

Meanwhile, the Wolverines -- who have slumped lately and with the two road losses this past week dropped to 14-8, 4-6 in the Big Ten -- are in trouble. Michigan still has to play Minnesota twice, Michigan State and Purdue in its quest to get to the NCAA tournament for the first time this decade. The Wolverines also play at Connecticut on Saturday. Michigan does have bankable nonconference wins over Duke at home and UCLA in New York. While the schedule is daunting, you can make the argument that Michigan at least has plenty more opportunities for quality wins to right its current path.

Beilein said poor 3-point shooting of late is to blame for the Wolverines' slide. Not making 3s has made it tougher for Michigan to score inside.

"We're going through a tough stretch,'' Beilein said. He's not too pleased that the Wolverines play suddenly surging Penn State on Thursday before the Saturday game at Connecticut, while the Huskies play at Louisville on Monday and have the week to get ready for Michigan. But Beilein said he's not going to focus too much on the negative, adding that he's building a program. He obviously doesn't want to be judged on whether the Wolverines make the NCAA tournament in Year 2.

Beilein added that there are plenty of teams going through a difficult stretch of games right now and losing, such as Arizona State, Notre Dame and Georgetown. He's right. All those teams, including Michigan, looked like locks for the NCAA at one point but now will have to beef up their résumés to ensure bids.

  • The Big 12 office said Sunday that it is reviewing Pat Knight's behavior in Texas Tech's loss Saturday to Nebraska, in which Knight ran onto the court to challenge a call. Knight, the first-year coach of the Red Raiders, was given two technical fouls and ejected. Then, while he was walking off the court, Knight turned around and ran back to challenge the officials again.

  • OK, who at the beginning of the season thought that Michigan State would lose at home to Northwestern and Penn State? Anyone? Anyone?

  • Central Florida coach Kirk Speraw has a potential first-round pick on his roster whom no one seems to discuss nationally. His name is Jermaine Taylor, and he might end up being the Conference USA player of the year.

    Taylor has been a 20-plus machine for the Golden Knights. He scored 28 points in an overtime win against Tulane on Saturday. He is averaging 23.9 points a game, making 41.8 percent of 3-pointers a game, and has had four 30-plus-point games this season. The 6-4 senior guard has seen his points-per-game average rise from 4.3 as a freshman, 12.7 as a sophomore, 20.8 as a junior to 23.9 today. He started out as a 30.4 percent 3-point shooter and now is shooting better than 41 percent.

    Speraw said Taylor arrived at UCF as an unpolished, unfinished product. But with a determined work ethic and dedication to fundamentals, Taylor has matured into a go-to scorer every game. He has carried a team loaded with seven freshmen to second place in C-USA play behind Memphis.

    Speraw said Taylor is efficient, has improved his midrange game and has become a leader. He also is a highlight reel with spectacular dunks. Speraw said Memphis' Tyreke Evans gets most of the NBA attention in the conference but Taylor is right behind him.

  • Putting teams with sub-.500 conference records in the NCAA tournament is hardly new. Just look at how many teams made the field with such a résumés in the past 25 years or so:

  • Andy Katz | email

    ESPN Senior Writer



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