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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The good and bad of college basketball

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

This past weekend, we had the good and bad of college basketball. We truly covered both ends of the spectrum.

There was the positive in Bloomington, Indiana. The number one team in America at the time, Kentucky, arrived for its first road game of the season. The Indiana-Kentucky game matched two of the sport's richest traditions. John Calipari has done a phenomenal job recruiting the nation's best. On the other side was Tom Crean, trying to revitalize the Hoosier program in his fourth season at the helm.

Crean's kids responded in a positive way, with a scintillating buzzer beater by Christian Watford to beat the Wildcats. The environment was incredible and the place was absolute pandemonium, hoops hysteria big time. My friends, the game was a classic competition between two classy coaches and teams. It was everything that is right about the sport, going down to the wire. There was a great celebration after and it was a learning experience for the young Wildcats.

Then look at what happened in Cincinnati, Ohio. The incident at Xavier was ugly, ugly, ugly. I understand that Cincinnati and Xavier have an intense rivalry; I have called that game in the past. A big brawl broke out with punches thrown, a kicking incident, and then penalties meted out.

There were apologies and actions taken. In my opinion, the penalties were not strong enough When you are talking about a maximum of six games for throwing vicious punches, that is absurd and unacceptable.

To those involved in throwing punches, like Yancy Gates, or a kick from Cheikh Mbodj, they should be banned from playing for one year, plus service within the university to show that they are really caring young people. I understand showing emotion now, crying and being upset. They are showing sincerity. I understand eligibility would expire; so be it.

One has to understand the severity of what happened. Right now, the six-game suspension means those Bearcat players will miss one Big East game (vs. Pittsburgh). Does the truly send a message for the actions which occurred?

Make these guys understand the value of doing things the right way. Let them realize that they are not only representing themselves, but their universities as well.

Then there was the action of Xavier's Tu Holloway, a true superstar. He is a PTP'er who has been one of the top five players in America over the first month of the season. His comments after the game were absolutely ludicrous. To talk about being gangsters who zipped them up, come on now, you are representing a university. It this what students at that university want to be all about? Do you think they are happy to root for a guy talking about thugs and gangsters? The kid tried to be cool and tough, but he is probably sorry for those remarks.

It is time for these players to look in the mirror. Mick Cronin has taken charge and is firm and strong. Now he could be even stronger by making sure that those involved don't step on the floor for a good, long time.

We had a great moment and a horrible moment. It is sad that the bad moment is getting so much notoriety and publicity to take away from such a special happening, the great finish at Indiana.