Within five regrettable minutes Monday night at the Allen Fieldhouse, the immediate future of the Kansas and Kansas State men’s basketball programs was tossed in the air by the actions of some immature kids.
“It was unbelievable,” Dick Vitale said on ESPN. “In my 40 years of doing games on television I’ve never seen anything like that outside of the NBA.”
With the Jayhawks up by 22 points and just over six seconds remaining in the game, K-State’s freshman guard DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa near midcourt and raced downcourt in hopes of scoring.
De Sousa chased Gordon down and blocked his shot then stood over the fallen Gordon taunting him. At that point, K-State’s Antonio Gordon and David Sloan went after De Sousa, Gordon shoving De Sousa. And within moments, De Sousa was exchanging blows with K-State’s James Love, who was in street clothes.
That lit the fuse: A huge brawl broke out that involved players and coaches from both teams and eventually spilled out into the stands behind the basket.
De Sousa grabbed a stool and wielded it over his head, threatening to hit someone with it. Only Jayhawks assistant Jerrance Howard prevented De Sousa from doing something he likely would have regretted the remainder of his life.
According to the Associated Press, police officers and former Kansas star, Wayne Simien, helped break up the fight which put a number of fans in harm’s way.
After the fight, the officials brought the teams back from the locker room and put one-tenth of a second back of the clock. Only five players from each returned because the others were all ejected for leaving the bench while the game was in progress. Kansas State shot technical free throws.
“There is no doubt in my mind that De Sousa should ever but a uniform again in college basketball,” Vitale said. “He was holding a chair. He could have hurt someone. I don’t want to hear the excuse that they stole the ball with time running out. …they should have never done something like that. Give me a break.
“That was ugly. Where were the coaches, the assistants? They should have kept their teams on the bench. The first rule is someone should take charge to make sure no one gets there (to join the fight). It’s sickening. There’s no place for it in the game. What De Sousa did was almost criminal. I’ll be shocked if he ever wears a Kansas uniform again.”
After the game, Kansas coach Bill Self spoke the obvious.
“Regardless of what happened, it’s a terrible image and there will be consequences for that,” Self said. “Obviously, it’s an embarrassment. It’s not something you’d be proud of. This, what happened, is absolutely zero signs of toughness. It’s a sign of immaturity and selfishness more so than it is toughness.”
Kansas reaction was swift. Self announced De Sousa’s indefinite suspension on Wednesday.
“I have suspended Silvio De Sousa indefinitely pending the final outcome of the review by KU and the Big 12 Conference,” Self said in a statement. “As I said last night, we are disappointed in his actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior.”
There is also no way Kansas or Kansas State can allow Antonio Gordon, Love, Sloan and the Jayhawks David McCormack, who was also in the mix, to get away with this without serious repercussions.
If the schools chose not to act, the Big 12 should step in and hand out penalties the seriousness of the incident requires. For picking up the chair, De Sousa should be suspended for the remainder of the season. The others should face suspension, as well as any other members of each team that left the bench to join the fracas.
“It was obvious to me that we played a role in what transpired,” Self said. “And there will be penalties for that. Regardless of how it got started, that’s no way for mature men to act regardless of the situation.”
Like Self, K-State coach Bruce Weber had a lot to say after the game. Weber said he was not insistent enough in pulling back from defensive pressure, even though he instructed his players not to foul.
“But the kids, our young guys, they want to play hard,” Weber said. “They were disappointed and frustrated. You don’t want to take that fire out of their belly, but at the same time, you’ve got to handle it right and (we) created a bad thing.
“You wish it would have ended a little different and it didn’t. That’s sad.”
Self said he sternly addressed his team, telling it he was disappointed in its selfishness in fueling the fight.
You may recall De Sousa has already been in the middle of a mess at Kansas. He missed his sophomore season because of his involvement in a play-for-play scheme. He wasn’t supposed to play this year, either. But Kansas won its appeal to return the junior to the floor.
If he’s lost for the season, it shouldn’t hurt the Jayhawks, currently ranked No. 3 in the nation. A Jayhawks fan would admit he’s probably not good enough to be among their top eight.
At this point, it really shouldn’t matter. De Sousa and the all the other combatants were seriously out of control. And both schools should expect the worst as a result.