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Hawkeye basketball: Gard had a point, let’s hope the Big Ten answers

When 'fightin' fer yer guy' goes too far and actually opens a file you don't want opened

Don’t blame Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard for sticking up for Brad Davison.

He’s the Badgers coach. Davison is his guy. His audience expects Gard to stand up for his guy in instance of perceived unfairness.

Make no mistake, Sunday’s call against Davison was big. The Hawkeyes led 74-71 with 21.5 seconds left. Iowa’s Keegan Murray trailed Davison, who had an open lane to the hoop. The whistle blew and it looked as though a common foul was headed to Murray, who immediately after the play motioned to the nearest official to review a hook-and-hold.

The officials went to the monitor to review the play and called a common foul on Murray and a Flagrant 1 on Davison, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Both players hit two free throws and Iowa was awarded the ball out of bounds.

Did Murray hit Davison with his right arm? Maybe a little. Did Davison hook Murray’s arm? Yeah. It happened fast. Didn’t seem intentional.

But look who we’re talking about.

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SBNation headline: Brad Davison’s latest cheap shot even has Wisconsin fans turning on him

That one is self explanatory, but here are the highlights: This post is from January 2020 about a game you, the Hawkeye fan, will fondly remember as “Junk Gate.”

Iowa took a late lead. While trying to get around a screen, Davison threw his arm into Connor McCaffery’s crotch. Davison got a flagrant with Iowa leading and just 30 seconds left.

C. McCaffery on the play: “He grabbed me right in the — where you don’t want to be grabbed in,” McCaffery said about Davison. “He does that. He’s marked for doing that. He’s the type of player, unfortunately, who feels the need to do that stuff. Tonight he cost them the game.”

This nutshot earned Davison a one-game suspension.

— Nut shotted a Marquette big in 2018.

— In 2017, Michigan’s Jon Teske got the Davison “cup check.”

“The area I really want to address,” Gard said in Sunday’s postgame, “maybe people have questions about, is the mockery that has been made of the hook-and-hold. It appears to have become a Brad Davison rule, where it has become, quite frankly, a joke.”

I get “fightin’ fer yer guy,” totally. It’s just too bad that Gard’s guy is the career Big Ten leader in nut shots. It shatters his argument.

And then Gard went over the top.

“Those things happen on every single possession of the game, specifically in the post. I think it has really turned into a joke. I feel bad for Brad Davison. The kid is a great kid, plays his ass off. But he continues to get screwed by this. …

“It has become sickening.”

Oh, he said “ass,” it must be serious.

And …

“I’m just trying to protect the player that they’ve put a spotlight on. I’ve asked the league to stop it and they’ve allowed it to get out of hand. And the character of the kid now, with what ESPN did and with their Wikipedia thing during one of the games that we had. ESPN can issue all of the apologies they want. The kid’s a great kid, he’s done a phenomenal job for our program, he’s been a great representative of this university and I’m just tired of him getting constantly put in that light. And it’s got to stop. So I’ll be happy to take a call from the league. They know my number, they know where I’m at.”

Gard called out the league. This is where it could get good. This is where the league could punish goonish style of play.

Let’s for a moment believe “the league” is actually governed. Gard blasted replays last Sunday. I get that. He’s not wrong. His idea that Davison is being singled out isn’t wrong, either, but, Greg, the Big Ten leader in career nutshots has a rep. You’re conveniently ignoring that, but “fightin’ fer yer guy” doesn’t include both sides.

Big Ten officiating is crumbling. I think that’s a charitable way of putting it. (I’m pro official, but the replays Sunday killed the game.)

Let’s for a moment believe the league is governed by Billions “Hard Bob.” Billions is a crazy high-finance, high-octane show on Showtime. “Hard Bob” is played wonderfully by Chelcie Ross, who you remember as the veteran pitcher trying to talk Pedro Serrano out of “Jobu” and ridding his bats of evil spirits.

In “Billions,” Hard Bob is the Bureau of Industry and Security secretary. He gets to say “no” to a lot of people. His catch phrase is “I’m Hard Bob and I brook no bullshit.”

Today for entertainment purposes, Hard Bob is the Big Ten commissioner and not Kevin Warren. (Credit where credit is due: Warren has already come down on Davison, saying this after the McCaffery nut shot, “We will not tolerate behavior that compromises the health and safety of our student-athletes or crosses the line of aggressive, competitive play, especially when a pattern of similar behavior has been previously established.”)

So, Greg Gard wants a call from Hard Bob. Gard wants to open the case file.

OK.

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— Here’s Davison trying to end Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy’s night in 2019.

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino on this play: “When things like that happen the league’s got to look at it. They’ve got to make decisions. It’s kind of out of our hands. My thoughts on what it was or what it wasn’t are kind of irrelevant. I’m a really, really big believer in focus on what you can control.”

No foul, no repercussions from the B1G.

— Of course, Davison is a sensational flopper. With this, I’m of the mind, you gotta do what you gotta do to win. If I’m a Big Ten basketball administrator, I want less flopping, but it’s never totally going away.

— At one point in 2019, Davison had three Flagrant 1 fouls called against him and two of those were for … you guessed it … “hook and holds.”

Gard wanted to open the case. Hard Bob has looked it over and he is not brooking this BS.

This merits more than the standard $10k fine. Hard Bob gives Gard a $50k fine and suspends him for the first game of the B1G tournament.

Hey, Gard wanted to open the case. The evidence is overwhelming against his guy.

“Any time there’s a foul in question, the opponents are yelling to the officials about the monitor,” Gard said. “If college basketball is headed in this direction, we’re in big trouble.”

No, the league wouldn’t be in trouble, Wisconsin’s style of basketball would be.

But it’s Tuesday and there’s been nothing from the B1G. That’s too bad. This was an opportunity to clean up some of the muscle-car bullshit that sometimes makes this league unwatchable.

Marc Morehouse

22 years as the Iowa football beat writer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Holy bleep, that's a long damn time. Now, I'm a podcaster/writer/pop cult guru at Hawkeyepodcast.com. Yes, I wrote "guru," but I didn't mean it in a pretentious way. Sincere thanks for reading, listening and hopping on board!

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