When Xavier Johnson was ejected at Rutgers on Jan. 9, the officiating crew reversed their call on the floor after a video review.
Initially that crew had called a foul on Rutgers’ Antwone Woolfolk for pushing Johnson to the floor, but upon review realized Woolfolk was retaliating for something Johnson had done. The result was a flagrant 2 and an ejection of Johnson, and no foul at all on Woolfolk.
All things considered, it seemed like the officials punished the right player that night. Perhaps Woolfolk should have received some form of lesser foul, just to reinforce that his action, while retaliatory, was still not acceptable. But justice was served.
Friday at Wisconsin, an Indiana player found himself on the other end of the equation.
C.J. Gunn retaliated with a forearm shove after Wisconsin’s Max Klesmit made several strange attempts to nuzzle him with his head like a cat. It was next level bizarre non-basketball stuff from Klesmit clearly intended to get a reaction from Gunn.
There was no overlap on the officiating crews for the Rutgers and Wisconsin games, and they reached very different conclusions.
And in both cases IU got the harshest punishment.
Indiana coach Mike Woodson had nothing negative to say about the decision to eject Xavier Johnson at Rutgers, and even furthered Johnson’s punishment by taking him out of the starting lineup.
But Woodson had strong words when it came to how the Gunn/Klesmit incident was handled by the officiating crew.
“I mean, a guy sticks his head in your chest, anything is liable to happen in the heat of the battle of a basketball game,” Woodson told Don Fischer Monday evening on his radio show. “I’m not saying what C.J. did was right — he should’ve been the bigger person to walk away — but when you don’t punish the guy for instigating it, that’s a problem with me.”
Woodson says he has since conveyed his frustrations with league officials.
“I’ve expressed that to the top after that ball game, because if he (Klesmit) never (instigated), I don’t think C.J. would’ve been walking to the locker room, taking an early shower,” Woodson said.
The situation involving Gunn was just the latest in what Woodson described as a series of head-scratching calls against his team this season.
“Sometimes being a coach in the Big Ten and college basketball, I don’t know some of the calls. I walk away shaking my head at some of the calls,” he said.
“And I’m not questioning the officiating because it’s what it is. I mean, you got to coach within the realm of how they officiate, and we’ve had some questionable things happen this year.”
Klesmit will have more chances to nuzzle Gunn when Wisconsin makes the return trip to Bloomington on Feb. 27.
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