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March 9, 2011
The Pres' Palouse Park Bench - A Minor Transgression
It hasn't exactly been what I would describe as a banner week when it comes to dealings with police and other authority figures all around the NCAA, but especially in this little corner of the world we call Washington. Ohio State's self-imposed sanctions against their sweater vest-loving head coach may or may not be enough to sooth the any more possible penalties from the NCAA.
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson has been arrested, suspended, apologized and re-instated for his possession of marijuana and it's not just the Cougars that are in trouble. Nope, they've shared the wealth with their Husky brethren, in the form of Venoy Overton's charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor in relation to the investigation of alleged sexual assault of one of those minors. Overton hadn't ever been named as the suspect in the sexual assault case, although I think it would be fair to say many (including myself) assumed it was him, be that right or wrong.
As two fan bases that happen to be rivals, we need to remember something in any discourse that may follow: please, do not try and compare the two - whether their punishments were warranted or not. These are two completely separate cases involving two completely different players in two completely different places. Because of this, we need to look at the cases separately.
Let us begin with Thompson. He was in possession of less than two grams of marijuana when the police pulled him over for a busted headlight. For his offense, he'll likely spend a day in the Whitman County Jail and do some community service. The crime was relatively minor but the person who committed it was quite a surprise. Thompson was seen as almost the silent leader of this team but after his arrest, I don't know that he can be. He was suspended for the team's season finale and gave a heart-felt apology to the crowd on hand at Beasley. His punishment is consistent with the punishment Wazzu head men's hoop coach Ken Bone dealt sophomore point guard Reggie Moore for a similar offense earlier in the season. Everything about Thompson's violation of the law is pretty cut and dry.
It's Overton's legal trouble that brings us into murky water. I still believe Washington head men's hoop coach Lorenzo Romar and the university did the right thing all along, not suspending him so as to keep the matter private. Yesterday, the Seattle Prosecutor's Office decided they had enough evidence to press the charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor, a gross misdemeanor (same as Thompson's). Last month, the King County Prosecutor's Office declined to file sexual assault charges against Overton for the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year old, citing lack of evidence.
Here's where the whole situation gets messy: the charge from the prosecutor's office came down just about 48 hours prior to the Huskies' scheduled tilt with the Cougars to open the Pac-10 Tournament. Romar announced yesterday he'd be suspending Overton for the entirety of the tournament, but not the postseason should the Huskies be invited to any of the tournaments - and took Overton on the trip to Los Angeles.
Let me start by saying this: Romar can only punish for what he knows is fact. All he knows is fact is that Overton provided alcohol to a minor. It would be completely speculative of him to assume that Overton intended to get these girls intoxicated to have sexual intercourse with them. As an authority figure overseeing Overton and every other player on that team, suspending him for something he hasn't been charged with would be dually unfair.
We will never know what truly happened on the night in question with Overton and the two girls. I know what I believe happened and you know what you believe happened. But we all know Romar can't punish Overton for something he may or may not have done. He can however punish him for what he was charged with and for putting himself in a truly stupid situation and making the university and team look bad.
Romar was also in the awkward position of how to punish Overton. With no regular season games left, he can't set a suspension of "x" number of games. But, by the same token, kicking him off the team would've been too severe. To me, the punishment is just about right. Make him sit when his team needs him the most, especially since a first round loss could kill their tournament hopes.
One thing is for sure: both our schools have been on the wrong side of the law this week. Let us keep our fingers crossed it stops. Although if any Husky coach wants to put money in an NCAA betting pool, I'd be more than happy for that to occur.
As for game analysis for the WSU/UW tilt on Thursday, well, if Justin Holiday doesn't play, the Huskies will likely have a seven-man rotation playing zone and Thompson is going to be licking his chops. So, this has the potential to get really fun!
Not bad to finish the season at.
Pac-10 Tournament Winner: Arizona
Big-12 Tournament Winner: Texas
Big-10 Tournament Winner: Ohio State
Big East Tournament Winner: Notre Dame
SEC Tournament Winner: Kentucky
ACC Tournament Winner: North Carolina
Obscure Pick of the Week: The WAC championship! Because all the truly little conferences already have a champ picked!
WAC Tournament Winner: Utah State
Dunderhead of the Week: My planned trip to Las Vegas. Why? Because it's so far away! I know, it's only 15 days away, but why not now?!?!? C'mon!
And, of course, John Buccigross
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
The 2010-11 athletic season continues to be here and you know what that means It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Men's hoop, women's hoop and baseball, just to name a few, are playing their 2011 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.