The Show Must Go On….To Shanghai

20 Aug

By Bobby Bancroft
National Hoops Report

Chances are that by now, whether you are a college basketball fan or not, you have seen the footage of Thursday’s exhibition ending brawl between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets of the Chinese Basketball Association.

With nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the scored tied at 64, a hard foul on Georgetown senior guard Jason Clark by Rockets forward Hu Ke quickly escalated into both benches emptying onto the floor while mayhem ensued for a little over two minutes.  Once order was finally restored, the game was abandoned.

Without an actual game broadcast, how the game got to that point will likely become another one of China’s mysteries, however it’s unlikely to make its way to “great” status.

After learning that no one was hurt during the melee, the biggest question surrounding Georgetown’s 10-day goodwill trip to China was whether the Hoya contingent would be leaving Beijing for Shanghai as originally scheduled or if they would be cutting their trip short and heading back to Washington, D.C. after finding themselves in the middle of what unfortunately became an international incident.

In a smart move, Georgetown ended all speculation Friday morning by announcing that their tour of China would continue on as planned.  In an even smarter move, before leaving for the Nike Sports Festival in Shanghai, members of both teams got together in an effort to put the embarrassing on-court incident behind them.

Coach John Thompson III, Clark, and junior forward Hollis Thompson met with Rockets coach Adi Jiang and two Rockets players at the Beijing airport.  A Georgetown press release stated that the meeting was a success with both teams exchanging autographed basketballs and talking about further cultural exchanges such as the Rockets sending youth players to the 2012 Georgetown Summer Basketball Camp.

Long story short, they kissed and made up as much as can be expected.

So how did it get to the point where throwing punches and chairs became the natural ending to a basketball game?

As noted above, it’s hard to say without seeing the entire game but a few facts do stick out.

  • Georgetown was called for 28 fouls in the first half.
  • In their first game a day earlier against the Shanxi Dragons, they were called for 22 fouls during the entire game.
  • Their opponent on Thursday, the Bayi Rockets, is affiliated with the Chinese Army and obviously has a great sense of patriotism.
  • It was also noted that with the scored tied at 64, the Rockets had shot in the neighborhood of 45 free throws.

Making matters even harder to decipher is the fact that an official box score has yet to surface for this contest.   So given all of the above facts, it doesn’t seem too hard to imagine a scenario where the hometown team was getting the lion share of the calls.  It’s also not hard to see that a professional team affiliated with the Army was not too eager to lose a game at home against a team consisting of college kids.  All of those things put together can easily add up to a moment of craziness.  And they did.

So after doing and saying all of the right things after the brawl, what effect, if any, will all of this extracurricular activity have on the Hoyas and their upcoming basketball season?

The correct answer to that question depends on the team, and given that the 2011-2012 version of the Georgetown Hoyas will be largely young and inexperienced, the brawl, now that we know that nobody has been hurt, can be a very positive moment as JT3, as he’s affectionately known by Hoya fans, looks to mold his new squad with five freshmen – Jabril Trawick, Tyler Adams, Otto Porter, Greg Whittington, and Mikael Hopkins.  And it’s not just integrating the freshman into the team; it’s replacing three starters that took up a bulk of the minutes over the last couple of seasons in Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, and Julian Vaughn.

There isn’t a better way to find out about yourself, or your team, than in moments of adversity.  Finding yourself in a brawl, thousands of miles away from home in a strange land, definitely qualifies as a moment of adversity.  The young Hoyas stood their ground and protected each other during a clash with an Army based team of professional players in front of a crowd that was pelting them with water bottles.  After considering that nobody was seriously injured, that crazy scene that everybody has now witnessed on the internet has to be seen as a positive, while unplanned and unorthodox, team bonding experience.  It will be hard to get nervous about entering the Carrier Dome in Syracuse after surviving a clash in China with actual men as opposed to college students.

Georgetown will face the Liaoning Dinosaurs on Sunday in Shanghai.  The Hoyas are fortunate that they get two more opportunities to play exhibitions against professional teams before returning home.  Hopefully the team bonding experiences will be limited to low risk activities such as sightseeing and basketball games for the remainder of the trip.

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