Mark Grimm


Cincy Hoop Brawl: Real Black Eyes Come in Press Conference

“We’ve got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room…We went out there and zipped them up.” —- Xavier player Tu Holloway

The post-game press conference by two Xavier hoop players gave two black eyes to the university after a terrible on-court brawl ended their game with bitter crosstown rival Cincinnati.

The fight was messy enough where a cheap shot by a Cincy player bloodied the face of a Xavier player. You would think both universities would have moved quickly to defuse the situation. Didn’t happen. Then came the press conference.

Xavier senior Tu Holloway defended their actions by saying, “We’ve got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room…We went out there and zipped them up.” I doubt these were reassuring comments for the Jesuits who run the university. Throwing more grease on the fire, teammate Mark Lyons said, “Where we from, you’re going to do something back.” He later added, “We just proved…We a tough team…We ain’t scared of nobody.”

Perfect role models for our kids.

Xavier coach Chris Mack said of the pair, “At times, they probably don’t represent themselves with their use of words real well.” And given that, coach, no one at Xavier thought it was a bad idea to send these players out to the press? Penn State, Syracuse, and now, Xavier. Is this “Shoot-Yourself-in-the-Foot-Season? If so, I didn’t get the brochure.

It will take a while to sort out who was at fault during the fight — video watching, referee interviews, league officials’ pow wows. But, in some ways, the aftermath presents a bigger problem. How far reaching in college sports is the culture reflected in the press conference?

Those wounds will be tougher to heal.

The writer is a crisis communication professional, adjunct media professor, and former play-by-play announcer for college basketball.

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