Print and Go Back ESPN.com: North Carolina Tar Heels [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Williams: Marshall foul hard, not flagrant

By Robbi Pickeral

North Carolina coach Roy Williams wishes the foul that caused point guard Kendall Marshall to hit the floor and fracture his right wrist Sunday wasn’t quite so hard.

But, he said on his Monday night radio show, “I don’t think it was unnecessarily rough.”

Marshall got hurt with 10:56 left at the Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday night when the sophomore point guard -- who naturally shoots left-handed -- was driving the lane for a right-handed layup. He was fouled hard by Creighton's Ethan Wragge and injured the wrist when he crashed to the floor.

Kendall Marshall
Kendall Marshall broke his right wrist during this play on Sunday.
Williams said he’s seen replays and still photos, and believes Wragge was going for the ball.

“You’re talking to a guy that in the last two weeks has screamed so hard, has been so mad, at Kendall Marshall because he has fouled guys going in for a layup the way I would give my grandson a love pat,’’ Williams said. “... And I say, ‘Kendall, I don’t mind if you foul him, but don’t let him make the dadgum layup, too. ... Don’t give him a freakin’ love pat, and get the foul and give him a free throw.'

“How can I be disappointed when a guy makes a foul and doesn’t let a guy get up a layup -- unless it’s a flagrant foul? And I would look at that play, and every official would look at that play, and they would not call that a flagrant foul.”

What was flagrant, Williams believes, was a no-call in the first half when Gregory Echenique’s forearms sent UNC 7-footer Tyler Zeller flying.

Williams said Bluejays coach Greg McDermott called him Monday morning and told him he had already met with Echenique and told his player that the play was “unacceptable.” Creighton had been getting a lot of negative mail and even some death threats after the game, “which I think is way out of whack,’’ Williams said. “And he said, ‘Coach, I want you to know that we wouldn’t play like that, we don’t play like that.’”

One other foul that drew plenty of attention was the early-game technical on UNC’s John Henson, which occurred after Creighton’s Grant Gibbs swiped down on the ball, hitting Henson’s splinted left wrist (the forward had missed three straight games with a sprain).

Henson had some choice words for Gibbs, drawing the technical. Afterwards, Gibbs was seen winking at his bench, drawing the ire of Tar Heels fans.

Williams didn’t like that Henson was T’d up in that situation, but didn’t seem to mind the wink.

“Guys, I’ve seen hundreds of players that felt like if they got somebody’s goat on the other team, then they would wink at the bench or feel like they’ve accomplished something," Williams said. "The kid supposedly made the statement that he did wink at the bench, but it was that he goaded him into a technical. Would Roy Williams do that? No, I wouldn’t do that. But Michael Jordan would. And I love the ground he walks on. Some people perceive it as being ‘I whacked him on the wrist and I hurt him and he got a technical.’ I didn’t perceive it as being that way.”

Williams said he now considers the matter of the fouls (and no-calls) in the game closed. He also called McDermott a "great coach," and appreciates that McDermott called him to discuss the game and express his sadness that Marshall was hurt.

McDermott also defended the way his team played to the Omaha World-Herald, saying: "Anyone that watched us play 35 games would know that we're the farthest thing from being a physical, rough-housing team. If anything, we've lacked physicality, but now we're being made out to be the team that tried to bully North Carolina.

"The thing we feel bad about is the injury, because I would like to see North Carolina make a great run in this tournament."

He also emphasized that they were not trying to hurt the Cousy Award finalist, telling the World-Herald: "We feel awful that Kendall Marshall got hurt. There was not any malicious intent on Ethan's part. It was just a basketball play and, unfortunately, Kendall landed on his wrist wrong."

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.