College basketball was one night removed from a near-fight in one game before it saw another on-court tussle.
This one is mostly harmless. With NIT-bound Stanford running bubble team Cal out of its own gym on Senior Night, Stanford's Dwight Powell elbowed Cal's Allen Crabbe in the chest, and then Crabbe flopped.
Tempers flared. It's a rivalry game and Stanford was plain whooping the Golden Bears. So in an effort to defuse the situation as quickly as possible, assistant coaches from both teams hurried onto the floor to separate their squads.
Heads-up move. Necessary move, even, in order to prevent what college basketball never needs: more fights.
But here's the problem. The rulebook states that only the head coach can leave the bench in these kinds of situations. So Cal assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb (the brother of our own Doug Gottlieb), and Stanford assistants Charles Payne and Mark Madsen, got the boot. Straight ejected for playing good cops. Right call, per the rules, but man ... what a dumb rule.
In total, six technical fouls were handed out and five people were ejected shortly before the game ended in an 83-70 Stanford win. The two players and three coaches mentioned above were the ones who got the hook. While situations like this are rare in college basketball, the rules committee should really reconsider ejecting coaches for leaving the bench to break up a fight. I understand the need to keep bench players on the pine -- more young men in the fold can sometimes bring about an increased fracas -- but the coaches are a step above and hold more responsibility.
Let's afford assistants the option to reel in their players whenever in-game incidents occur, because almost every time they'll prevent a bad moment from becoming an ugly one.
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