Normally I don’t blog about just one day of the summer league. Tuesday, however, was not just any normal day. Aside from being the first opportunity for fans of Hawaii Basketball to witness the past (Zane Johnson) present (Brandon Spearman) and future (Negus Webster-Chan) of the program, we also bore witness to history clashing (literally).
To set the stage, the game was competitive from the tip. Competitive though, in a friendly way. Hard play, the occasional foul and not a lot of trash talking…or so I thought. In a series of games not known for a whole lot of defense, Spearman, Negus and Johnson ALL locked in like their lives depended on it (yes, yes that’s the ultimate cliche). The proof though, was in the pudding (second ultimate cliche…on a roll!) Lots of turnovers, and LOTS of Julian Sensley not appreciating it.
To be fair to Julian, the fouls did seem to be fairly one-sided. And, to his credit, he looked intensely at the refs…but didn’t immediately do much else. It all came to a head with about 3 minutes left in the game (when everything was already pretty much decided.) It had evolved (devolved) into a “shoot a three or try for a dunk” contest. And that was great. Until Julian took it strong, got smacked (audibly) and didn’t get a foul call. Then everything changed.
In retaliation for the non-call, he charged down the court and body slammed Zane into the ground full speed as he went in for a layup (shouting “THATS A M…EFFING FOUL!!”). Which would have been fine (Zane got up unhurt) except that Zane’s teammates took offense. So now, where there wasn’t obvious trash talk before…things went full bore. You could see Negus and Brandon talking to Julian non-stop after that. And, with about a minute left, I guess Julian had had enough. Didn’t see the triggering event, only him lunging and swinging at Spearman afterwards. And Julian is not a little guy. Fortunately, it took place directly in front of Solar’s bench because it took 5 players and Artie Wilson to slow him down and Zane Johnson tackling him to finally put an end to it. Which also ended the game. Suffice it to say, Summer League isn’t the defense-less fest that it’s thought to be. Although I must say, though high-energy is good, fighting is never the answer. Hopefully this doesn’t carry over into future contests.