As a former SEC student-athlete, I was appalled at the strategy and execution of that strategy employed by Coach Trent Johnson on Saturday.
I implore you and your staff to carefully review the tape of that game from beginning to end.
Many feel that so-called "physical play" has gone too far in college basketball but so long as the games are played by the rules and the referees are in control and competent, all teams must accept that and play accordingly.
However, the tactics of Coach Johnson's team went FAR beyond "physical play". I know you will agree if you watch the game.
The strategy was to elbow, punch, tackle (!), scratch and gouge the opponents with a special emphasis on Anthony Davis.
Do you think there is ANY place for a blatant horse-collar takedown of a player in our league? It is not allowed in football, for goodness sake, let alone in a sport where the player is virtually unprotected. I understand that the opposing player was properly called for a Flagrant 2 and ejected but I ask you to explore an extended suspension for him and a severe warning to Coach Johnson, his staff and all the coaches in our fantastic league to immediately cease these unsportsmanlike and very dangerous tactics or face significant penalties.
We all know where this can lead. The Xavier-UC brawl was an embarrassment to those players, their staffs, their universities and their league.
We do not want anything like that to occur in the SEC.
We do not want ANY players to be deliberately targeted for excessive and intentional physical abuse.
There is simply no place for that in our classy league or anywhere else in the magnificent game of college basketball.
This is not the first time teams have employed the Hack-a-Cat strategy. See: Alabama and others.
For their part, the UK players should be commended for retaliating only on the scoreboard and within the rules of the sport.
Let's not let this go one step further, PLEASE.
You have the authority and the power to restore a proper balance between the aggressive play we all love to see and the improper emphasis on blatantly ignoring the rules and etiquette of the game.
One solution was offered by Coach Calipari after this game. "Call the fouls". If they are determined to play that way, call the fouls and soon enough their starters will be on the bench and they will have to play with substitutes until they either play within the rules or foulout as well.
There were many fouls called on LSU on Saturday. I'm certain your review will reveal that there could and should have been many more. Some could be construed as "incidental" of course. But, you have the technology to slow down the action and see the elbows, jabs and punches (to the face in one instance) that occurred.
We don't want the remainder of the season and the SEC Tournament this year to emulate the LSU game plan in any way in regard to what we saw on that court.
I do hope you agree and will make this a point of emphasis before something tragic happens that can't be reversed. Prevention is always preferable to the regret of hindsight.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
SEC Champion, Track and Field