Kansas Basketball: Silvio De Sousa deserves blame for brawl

Kansas basketball has been in the spotlight, but not for the right reasons. A brawl broke out at Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas State, and Silvio De Sousa deserves the blame for that brawl.

*EDITOR’S NOTE – Cameron Black, the staff member who wrote this, is blind, but has a great feel for the game, even without his vision. This article was written with the help of a screen reader.*

By this point, staffers and writers much better than myself have already detailed what occurred at the Kansas Basketball game on Tuesday night and they have done so more eloquently then I probably would have, so I am not here to rehash the facts.

This is not an informative piece, but more of what I (for lack of the more appropriate and official journalistic term) would call a debate piece. Simply put, I’m hoping after I post this that the comments section will catch fire with everyone  displaying different viewpoints, hopefully posted with respect, thought and decorum as well, so let’s get to it.

Those of you who clicked on this piece while perusing KC Kingdom are already aware of what took place, but just in case, I will provide the reader’s digest version.

With roughly five seconds left on the clock and K-State down by 20+ points, KU power forward Silvio De Sousa was in possession of the ball, dribbling the clock to double zeros, when the ball was stolen by K-State guard DaJuan Gordon.

Gordon took it to the hole, and was about to score an easy layup, when he was aggressively blocked by De Sousa. After the block – which sent Gordon to the floor – De Sousa stared down at him and verbally taunted him. Gordon came at De Sousa, benches cleared, and a brawl ensued that included De Sousa picking up a stool that was quickly taken away by an official and the brawl spilling into the handicap seating of the game.

After players were all taken back to their locker rooms and cooled down, they were forced to resume play with less than a second on the clock, so that Gordon could shoot the free throws awarded to him by the foul that De Sousa put on him.

Everybody got all that? Now, let’s dissect the incident piece by piece. I have heard many different viewpoints to the multiple aspects of this incident, so I would like to present those view points and my thoughts and opinions on them.

Who Started It

This sounds like a cut and dry answer for a cut and dry question. Clearly De Sousa started it when he blocked too aggressively and continued to stare down Gordon and verbally taunt him. However, I have heard the argument from other people and seen on social media, that Gordon could be accused of starting it, for stealing the ball when the Wildcats were already down 24 points, with not enough time left on the clock for it to make a lick of difference.

Gordon has been accused by those who take this side of unsportsmanlike conduct, for not just allowing De Sousa to dribble out the clock and take their medicine. After all, does losing by 22 really make the team or its fans feel better than losing by 24? Shouldn’t Gordon have just allowed De Sousa to perform the basketball equivalent of taking a knee? De Sousa  can’t just stand there and hold the ball until time runs out, he has to dribble.

Perhaps the actions of Gordon were efforts in futility in a game that is long since decided, but the purpose of sports is to play until the whistle, to try to win until time runs out. The fact that Gordon’s two measly points with a 24 point deficit is just a drop in the bucket cannot be argued, but he was only doing what any player should do, and that is to not give up until the clock has hit double zeros.

There was nothing aggressive about what Gordon did; He was simply playing the game, regardless of whether his efforts would matter or not. K-State lost by 22 instead of 24, but when Bruce Weber and K-State players go over the tape the next day, at least it can clearly be seen, that despite the impending loss, Gordon played to the whistle. He did everything in his power to keep his team in the game, or at least try and end the night on a personal high note if nothing else, and I don’t think he can be faulted for that.

Chiefs fans don’t get mad at Frank Clark when he sacks a quarterback at the end of the game if the outcome is decided, so I see no difference here. I apply the exact same argument to De Sousa’s blocking of him. He was just continuing to play the game the way he has been taught to play, never mind the fact that his team had already won.

The block is not being questioned, but rather the aggressiveness of the block and the taunting afterword’s, which as why this is on De Sousa. It was not the steal that started the brawl, or the blocking of the shot, but rather the aggressiveness of the block and De Sousa’s actions after the block.

Free Throws

What seemed like the strangest part of a wild finish to the game, was the fact that officials ordered players to resume their positions, had less than a second put on the clock, so that Gordon could shoot his free throws, requiring the final score to be changed. I won’t lie, upon hearing that portion of the story, my gut reaction was “what’s the point?”

The outcome is decided, a fight has broken out straight from a Street Fighter video game, what more do you want? At first, this seemed like a waste of time, rubbing salt in the open wounds of players and fans alike, who just want to try and forget the whole ugly scene and not drag it out until the last possible millisecond.

I completely understand this view point, but if I am applying my own logic of playing the game until its end, then calling the players back onto the court and allowing Gordon to perform his free throws was the right and necessary thing to do, for the simple reason that the game was not over.

Certainly the block and ensuing brawl had taken center stage at that point with no one giving a popcorn kernel about Gordon’s free throws. The fact is he was fouled, and  the rules of the game state the fouled player is allotted one or more free throws after being fouled.

Had I been sitting in the stands, I most likely would have been disgusted with parading the two teams out for two  final free throws, and by the sound of the fans still left in the stands, most of them were, but the rules of the game are clear and I have no problem with Gordon’s free throws.

Crime and Punishment

It has been announced that De Sousa will be suspended indefinitely for his part in the brawl. I agree with the suspension. This is not to say that I think De Sousa should never play college basketball again, but until the investigation is concluded and the aftermath has blown over, De Sousa should not be on a basketball court and who knows how long that might take.

An argument can certainly be made that while he did pick up the stool, he did not use it, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have? The stool was taken away from him by a coach, and he allowed it to be taken from him, but why pick it up if you are not attending to use it, or at least make others think you are going to use it?

De Sousa’s suspension is not just a result of the picking up of the stool, but also of his clear taunting that started the brawl in the first place. Also, in the interest of saving face with the public and the media, it falls on KU to show that they take this situation very seriously and are going to do the right thing in regards to punishments being dealt.

It is no secret that KU has been under much scrutiny this season, for their multiple NCAA violations and the fiasco that was KU’s night in the fog with Snoop Dogg. In other words, KU needs to do whatever is necessary to avoid a black eye on an athletic program that by my count already has two this season.

It is important that they don’t come out of this situation looking worse than they already do, so it is in their best interest to have punishments be swift and fitting to the crime. De Sousa’s reaction was one of raw emotion, in the heat of the moment, and where else have we seen that in the last sports season? How about Myles Garrett cracking Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet? How about the bench clearing brawls that occur in both baseball and hockey?

Keep in mind that these are adult professionals I am talking about, who get paid millions of dollars to play their sport, not some immature inexperienced college kid. There should be a strong punishment, but it should not be disproportionate to the crime, and making sure a young man never plays college or possibly pro basketball again for a bad mistake in the heat of a moment in his college career is not what the crime calls for.

I hope that this piece has invoked thought in my readers, and not simply rehashed a topic that has been shoved down our throats. Either way, thank you for hearing out my view points, and I look forward to hearing all of yours.