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March 5, 2007

Raising hypocrisy to new heights

Tyler Hansbrough has a broken nose and may need root canal surgery eventually to repair a tooth injury, thanks to two different blows to the face from a pair of Duke players in an 86-72 UNC victory at the Smith Center on Sunday.

Yet Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's concern for Hansbrough's health could not be more obviously lacking and his attitude more hypocritical.

First, Krzyzewski came to the pressroom and tried to blame Roy Williams for having Hansbrough in the game. Yet, Krzyzewski had his starters in the game and was still calling timeouts and working desperately to find a way to win it.

Any concern he expressed for Hansbrough was merely in passing. His objective was clear: Do whatever he could to bail out Gerald Henderson, who had just been ejected from the game and stood to serve a one-game suspension for his heinous blow to a vulnerable Hansbrough.

Maybe the only thing worse was Henderson's attitude: "I've seen blood before, and it's a physical game."

Yeah, it's a physical game, but I've never seen a player attempt to rebound a basketball with his forearm. Henderson threw himself across that lane with the intention of landing some kind of blow on Hansbrough.

On Monday, as miraculous as it may seem, Krzyzewski managed to top himself with his hypocrisy.

"The person who it is most unfortunate for is G," Krzyzewski said. "The main thing is for Gerald's reputation. He's not that kind of player.

"These kids don't have long careers, and you never want an incident to soil or taint someone's reputation."

No, Mike. The person who was most unfortunate was Hansbrough, who suffered a broken nose and a tooth injury from two cheap shots by your players.

Krzyzewski talks about how he would take action if he thought the intent to injure had been there. From the replays, it's pretty obvious the intent was not for Henderson to hug Hansbrough's neck. Take his head off his shoulders maybe, but not hug his neck.

Just listen to Krzyzewski one year ago, when Jim Larranaga, George Mason's coach, suspended Tony Skinn, the team's point guard, for taking a cheap shot. This meant that Skinn, one of GM's most important players, would have to sit out the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Shortly after learning about the suspension, Krzyzewski said this.

"It sends chills through my entire body to hear what Jim did," Krzyzewski said. "Honestly, if he was here right now, I'd give him a big hug. We need more coaches to have the courage to step up in situations like this and say to our kids, 'That's wrong; I'm not making excuses for you.' If I were in the same situation, I hope I'd be gutsy enough and strong enough to do the same thing, but I can't swear to you that I would."

We now know the answer. He would not. He would make excuses instead.

On Sunday, when asked about Hansbrough's performance before the incident, Krzyzewski gave a quick, backhanded answer, basically saying, "Yeah, he's a great player and great players put up those kinds of numbers."

Well, Hansbrough's 26 points and 17 rebounds were not just any numbers. They were of the strong variety, the kind he has delivered for the most part in his four games against Duke.

Maybe, just maybe, the Blue Devils were trying to discourage Hansbrough from whipping their backsides the next time they meet. If so, they failed miserably because if Hansbrough returns to school, he will certainly do everything within his power to see that Carolina does not lose to Duke while he's on the court.

Duke has taken a beating in the national media since Sunday, and deservedly so. There is no place in the game for this kind of behavior. What happened with the earlier blow and the bash across the face by Henderson is out of line and unnecessary. That is not basketball, or at least it should not be.

Unfortunately, if you ask former Wake Forest guard Justin Gray, who had his jaw broken by Duke, or Raymond Felton, who had his face bloodied by Duke, or saw Sean Dockery strike Hansbrough in the face a year earlier, or speak to Eric Montross, who had blood streaming down his head from a blow by Duke, the answer would be this is not an uncommon practice by the Blue Devils.

The real question for Krzyzewski, who thinks Henderson's reputation is more important than Hansbrough's health, is this: What if it had been Josh McRoberts whose face had been bashed, his nose broken by an obviously cheap shot. Would he accept the blame for having McRoberts in the game or be worried about the opposing players' reputation.

I think not.

This is the evidence of what happens when someone never hears the word no. He starts to believe his own B.S., and thinks that no matter what happens, he can bully everyone into getting his own way.

At least Henderson will have to miss a game. It's too bad Krzyzewski will not also have to skip Thursday's first-round game against N.C. State as well. He deserves to sit this one out for shoveling so much crap onto the world around him since Henderson threw that forearm into Hansbrough's face.



 

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