Saint Joe's suspends player two games for giving the finger

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer
Saint Joseph's forward Halil Kanacevic is seen above giving another unfortunate salute with his fingers: the 3 goggles. (AP)

Saint Joseph's junior forward Halil Kanacevic ramped up the Holy War rivalry between his team and Philadelphia-area rival Villanova on Tuesday night when he gave a one-fingered salute to the Wildcats' student section during the second half.

The move has backfired on Kanacevic in just about every way. First, his team -- rated better than Nova at this point -- wound up losing. Not only that, but Kanacevic made a particularly dumb foul approximately 25 feet from the hoop, and then -- you know what? Let's let Philly.com flatly lay out for you just how karma came back around on Kanacevic.

[James] Bell calmly made a pair. Kanacevic threw a backdoor pass to [Langston] Galloway into a very tight window. Bell stole it. After a Daniel Ochefu follow basket, Kanacevic was fouled with 45.8 seconds left. Shooting into that student section, now completely crazed, he missed a pair.

Bell hit a three from the left corner. After an ugly SJU possession, the Hawks ended up with the ball on the sideline in the deep right corner with 3 seconds left, trailing by two points, without a timeout. Nobody was open. Kanacevic, fearful of a 5-second call, threw it off Mo Sutton. The ball caromed over the sideline, hitting Kanacevic. Turnover. Bell two free throws. Game over.

Seriously: That's voodoo.

And now comes news the school has slapped Kanacevic with a two-game suspension, this in addition to barring him from team practice for a week. All for flipping the bird at some not-even disorderly students.

"There is no place for obscene gestures or personal outbursts directed at anyone," coach Phil Martelli said in a statement. "We have always sought to conduct ourselves in a respectful manner to our university and to our opponents, and this behavior was unacceptable and inexcusable, even in the heat of the moment."

It's a harsh but unsurprising punishment by the school. Remember, this is Saint Joe's, the private institution that made a controversy about 10 times worse/more infamous than it needed to be when it refused to give reason or detail over why Martelli wouldn't sign a waiver for Todd O'Brien to play basketball last season.

"My actions were wrong and embarrassing and I strongly regret them." Kanacevic said via the school's release. "I made a mistake and I accept total responsibility for my behavior. I am sorry for the harm caused to my teammates and coaches and my actions were unbecoming of a member of our community. I sincerely apologize to both universities and to everyone who saw the game."

Listen, it's fine to ask for an apology from the kid, but "harm"? What? Believe me, his teammates, coaches and school were not harmed by this. It's a college game, a heated and lovably intense rivalry. It adds just a little something to Big 5 lore, like it or not. There were no punches thrown. No children were scarred. This was a harmless taunt from a player toward some chesty students. Sit him a game, fine. Two scratches and a week off from practice seems particularly strict.

 
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