Thursday, March 09, 2006

Skinn should walk the plank

CAA: Sidebar One

The Colonial Athletic Association once again put on a good show with its postseason men’s basketball tournament. Just prior to the tournament’s start it was announced that the CAA will continue to stage the event in Richmond through 2012, which reads as good news to me. This year’s champion, UNC Wilmington should represent the league well in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

On Sunday the Seahawks will learn from the NCAA who and where they will play next. As well, the CAA will find out if it really has arrived, to the extent that it can generate an at-large bid for a second, or perhaps even a third member school.

The CAA’s commissioner Tom Yeager saw his vision realized in 2006, when the league brought Georgia State and Northeastern aboard to expand to 12 members. Both new teams won games at the tournament. Even the Old Lefthander, Charles “Lefty” Driesell (pictured above, still objecting to calls by the refs) showed up at the Coliseum to cheer on his Panthers (Driesell coached Ga. State from 1996-2003). So it has been a good year for Yeager.

At this desk, I have just two bits of advice for Commissioner Yeager, regarding the CAA’s just finished tournament:

Unsolicited Advice No. 1: Figure out a way that prevents George Mason’s little hoodlum of a point guard, Tony Skinn, from suiting up in Patriots colors again. Whether it’s handled by the conference or the school doesn’t matter.

Having watched Skinn play for three seasons at Mason I can’t say that I’m surprised that he would do something cheap on the floor. But what he did to Hofstra’s star guard Loren Stokes -- a very deliberate, sneaky punch to the groin -- was beyond the pale. That was surprising, no, shocking.

The video replay of the incident makes what happened all too clear. Put it this way -- if you don’t issue a strong statement on this occasion, what would it take? Would it make a difference if Stokes’ injury prevented him from playing the next day, or ever?

Just because it appears Stokes was not seriously injured doesn’t let anyone off the hook. The act was what it was. Coming on the heels of two other nationally noticed incidents of the worst kind of sportsmanship, perpetrated by collegiate athletes on state football teams -- UVA’s Bill Butler and Va. Tech’s Marcus Vick -- now we see a George Mason player do something that maybe tops them. It was creepier, anyway, if not more dangerous.

If the Patriots win, and Tony Skinn appears in a second-round NCAA game, or in the NIT, you know that awful low-blow video clip will play many more times. So, maybe it would be better for both the conference and George Mason to make it absolutely clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, and it will be punished severely.

Sorry, a one-game suspension is just not enough in this case. Skinn should walk the plank; he’s a senior, so it’s a moot point as to whether his suspended status ought to extend beyond this year.

Unsolicited Advice No. 2: Down in the CAA Zone, 86 the hotdog eating contest (pictured right) for next year.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I love your blog, but why keep picking at the scab that Tony has caused for Mason? Also, Tony was a Juco transfer, so he hasn't been at Mason for 4 years. Were you watching him when he played elsewhere?

Granted, I'm biased because I'm a GMU alum, and yes, Tony's move was totally uncalled for, but to be such a "hoodlum," Tony's only gotten called for something like this once before that I know of (and that was when he was ganged upon by opposing players and coaches at Drexel, not the most reserved of teams). Maybe you've seen some things that haven't been picked up by the refs or CAA, but really, to compare him to a convicted criminal like Marcus Vick is a stretch.

He punched a guy in the groin - that's a stupid playground move, not a hanging offense. And, Coach L. yanked him immediately before even seeing the video. To me, given that Larranaga/O'Connor both knew the immediate and more long-term consequences of the suspension (losing to Hofstra, hurting at-large chances), this situation actually reflects well on GMU. After all, even Coach K. admitted that under the circumstances, he probably wouldn't have acted as such.

F.T. Rea said...

Conaway: Busted!

You are right. Skinn is playing his third season at Mason, not fourth. The copy in the original post has been corrected to reflect that. I should have looked it up. Skinn, and especially Jai Lewis, seem to have been making it tough for VCU for five or six years. So I was thinking he'd been there the whole time. Thanks for the heads-up.

However, I'll stand by my characterization of Skinn as a "hoodlum." The same goes for Marcus Vick. I see no defense for either of them that holds water. Both acts were totally out of the context of any ongoing play or honest competition.

And, I have no idea what sort of “playground” your basketball etiquette goes back to, but in my day, if a guy did what Skinn did, well, let’s say he would have been taught a lesson the hard way.

When you say "scab," that implies that this situation is healing. What I'm saying is that is festering, not healing, and it won't heal properly until Skinn gets his due. I'm not calling for him to be kicked out of school, but he should never wear a Patriots uniform again, under any circumstances. I want the well-paid adults at Mason and the CAA to act like adults and set a proper example.

Some things are still beyond the pale.

-- Terry

Anonymous said...

All I want to see is that Tony be punished according to precedent. If the refs had caught this, it would've been a 1-game suspension. I think that the GMU coaching and administration acted pretty grown up - in the heat of battle - by yanking him and suspending him.