Posted on 26. Feb, 2010 by in All, NCAA Basketball.

Technical Foul Looms Large

The University of Southern California Trojan Men’s Basketball team was trailing by two in conference road game at Oregon.  The Ducks were leading 49-47 with four minutes and 35 seconds to go when Trojans forward Nikola Vucevic attempted a three-point shot to give his team the lead.  The shot missed, and an Oregon Duck player grabbed a clean, uncontested rebound under the basket.  An immediate whistle sounded, and referee Bobby McRoy pointed toward the end of the Trojan bench, and made the universal hand signal for a “technical foul.”

The person McRoy was pointing at was third-year graduate student manager Stan Holt sitting on the bench.  McRoy walked to the scores table to report the unsportsmanlike conduct, for Holt “screaming obscenities” at him during the game.  Oregon immediately got two free throws and the ball, going on a 13-3 run to seal the game.

“When the whistle blew, I was the most stunned guy in the building,” Head Basketball Coach Kevin O’Neill said in a postgame interview.  He added that he had never heard of a manger being called for a technical foul “in the history of basketball.”

After Holt was slapped with the technical foul, the Oregon student section began chanted “You’re fired!” at him, causing Holt to leave the team bench and head into the hallways underneath the arena.

Following the game, a USC player told the media that Holt’s technical “changed the momentum of the game.”  Holt was seen outside the team locker room after the game being protected from media and fans by security as O’Neill addressed the team.

O’Neill and his team boarded a flight in Portland to head home to Los Angeles after the game.  As he excited the plane he made it official that Holt was gone, being fired for his actions during the game.  When asked the next day if it was a difficult decision, O’Neill was quoted as saying, “Not really. Everybody knows they’re not supposed to be talking to the officials.”

Later in the week, O’Neill released a statement that Holt was being reinstated and would return to his job with the team and be on the bench for the next game.  My guess is that he will tape his mouth closed the rest of the season.

This incident made me think about my own experiences, and my times with the University of Cincinnati Basketball Team.  Fellow former student manager Steve Bybee is the one that called this story to my attention, and we joked what would have happened had we received a technical foul while on the bench.

To be honest, I never remember coming close to getting in trouble as an undergrad. I usually bit my lip or yelled when the officials were on the other end of the court and knew they would not hear me.  But when I was hired on full time as the Director of Basketball Operations, thinks did change a bit.

As my responsibilities increased, my seat on the bench got a bit better, and I was moved closer to the front with all the other assistant coaches and video coordinator.  Although hardly ever listened to, my input was greater and I was feeling more comfortable.

The story that I will never forget was during the first round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We entered the game as a seven seed against the tenth seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs.    Almost four minutes into the second half, our head coach, Bob Huggins, was ejected from the game by official Mike Kitts. I have seen Huggs get mad over his career. I have seen him ride officials to the brink of a technical and heard many statements that he has said.  To this day, I am not sure Huggs deserved two quick technical fouls and an ejection like he did, but Kitts felt differently.

Following his ejection from the contest, Associate Head Coach Dan Peters took over and the entire staff was filling his ear with helpful tips, and trying everything we could to get the players on track.  One of the unofficial tasks was even making sure the officials were calling the game as they should.

I am not really sure what got into me, but I was trying to help the officials make correct calls.  Although I can be known to have a potty mouth, I made it a point to never swear during a game out loud, knowing that was an easy way to get nailed.  What almost got me in trouble late in the second half was that I left my feet, jumping up for some reason and slamming my clipboard through the air.  I can’t remember what call I was made at, just that I was mad.   I will never forget Kitts looking right at me and putting his whistle in his mouth, as if he was ready to blow a technical foul in my direction. He was sure “whistle happy” that day, so I am shocked he didn’t do it.

Kitts mumbled something at my direction as he ran by me on his way down the court.  I could not make out what he said, but another staff member on the bench said it was some sort of warning and that I better cool it and stay on my feet.
I was a bit nervous and worried, knowing that this was not the time, nor the place to do something stupid to hurt the team and the program.  We went on to lose that game and my dislike for Mike Kitts still continues to this day.

Thinking about Holt, and his situation, I am not sure how to feel.  He was extremely wrong, but I do not feel that he should of lost his job over the incident.  But like I said above, I am sure this mistake will never be made by Stan Holt again.

One Response to “Technical Foul Looms Large”

  1. Joe Roberts says:

    Great article!

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