I wanted to wait a day or two to write this post so I would write this with a clear head. About 99% of the state of Michigan has a very strong allegiance to one side of the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry. Though most of us have ties on both sides, few are bi-partisan. Michigan fans consider MSU to be a lot like their little brother: we cheer for you when you play other teams, because nobody better beat you up but us, dammit. Before you break out the "two football victories in a row, who's Little Brother now?" arguments, consider this: MSU will always be Little Brother to Michigan fans. The Wolverines could lose 10 straight to State and I'd still say that MSU is indeed Lil' Bro. And MSU fans, in true Little Brother fashion, will never understand.
But I digress. This post isn't about who's better (because my opinion should be painfully obvious by now), but rather whether or not Kalin Lucas should have been suspended for elbowing Michigan's Laval Lucas-Perry in the head on Tuesday night. In case you "forgot" what happened, here's the video. [via It's Just Sports]
I've watched the video a good 6-8 times now, and I'm even more of the mind that Lucas should see a suspension than I was on Tuesday. Like either Coach Beilein or Coach Izzo probably said the next day, let's break down the video. At the 0:05 mark, Lucas catches a pass from Chris Allen at the top of the 3-point arc with his left foot in front of his right. He crouches over, ball at his left hip/lower rib cage region with Lucas-Perry in his grill. Notice how Lucas-Perry's head is above Lucas'. Lucas pivots his right foot forward, turning his body to try to create space, but keeping the ball at the same left hip position. LLP gives no ground, but stays upright (i.e. his head is still above Lucas'). If you've stopped the video here, this is the calm before the storm (so to speak)
At the 0:06 mark, Lucas rips through to create space, catching LLP in the face with his right elbow. Rewind the video and watch this split-second part a few times. Notice how high Lucas has to bring his elbow in order to catch LLP in the face. Not only that, the replay shows a bit of a hitch (size of hitch may vary depending on school allegiance) by Lucas just before ripping through. Based on the video evidence, I think Lucas should have at least been ejected from Tuesday's game. I was hoping that the Big Ten would have reviewed this play, but apparently they're content with a runaway conference champion this year.
Much like Lucas, Harris brought his elbow up and caught Kramer in the face. There are a few differences between the two though.
- The video isn't the greatest quality (and sorry about the music, it was the best one available), but I don't see a hitch in Harris' motion quite like Lucas'. Harris rips through pretty much immediately after he got the ball. Lucas paused for a split-second after pivoting on his left foot before ripping through.
- By comparison, Lucas' elbow came up much higher than Harris'. Manny's 'bows barely got to head level, while Lucas' right elbow is easily above his head during the motion. Harris was also much more upright throughout his motion, and is squaring to the basket while ripping through. Lucas is simply pivoting to end up with the ball on his right hip, using his elbow to create as much space as possible so he can drive to the basket. (And yes, I understand that creating space is the point of a rip move, I played 5th grade basketball just like the rest of you.) The height of Lucas' elbow is what anyone who reviews the video should be looking at. He doesn't need to bring his elbow up that high, but he does, warranting further punishment in my eyes.
- While LLP takes the elbow fairly well, Chris Kramer acts like he was taken down by a grizzly bear. Yes, Kramer is bleeding, but even Cristiano Ronaldo watched the video and said "dude, what a flop." Or something like that. I don't speak Portuguese. My point, besides that Chris Kramer was exposed as a diving bitch on semi-national television, is that Harris' elbow received a worse knee-jerk reaction because of Kramer's flop and propensity to bleed. If LLP takes a dive, there's no doubt in my mind that Lucas is done for the game at that point.
Overall, I think my viewpoint is clear: Lucas should have been ejected from Tuesday's game. Since he wasn't, I would like to see the Big Ten take action and suspend Lucas for one game, especially since this is at least the second big elbowing incident in the past two years. Creating space is nice, but there's a certain way to do it without putting other players at risk.
Agree? Disagree? Think I'm an arrogant asshole? Voice your opinion in the comments, or let me know on Twitter.