MADISON, Wis. — A testy postgame handshake escalated into a fight at the end of Sunday’s men’s basketball game between Michigan and Wisconsin.
Michigan coach Juwan Howard slapped at Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft’s face, setting off a brawl involving coaches and players from both teams, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
After Wisconsin secured a 77-63 against the Wolverines at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard confronted Howard, who appeared hesitant to join the handshake line, CBS Sports reported.
Gard physically stopped Howard from moving past him and the two coaches exchanged words. Howard put his finger in Gard’s face and grabbed the Wisconsin coach’s sweater before Krabbenhoft entered the fray, ESPN reported.
Howard then reached out and struck Krabbenhoft in his face, the sports network reported.
According to the CBS announcers calling the game, Howard appeared to be unhappy with Gard’s decision to call a late timeout with the Badgers ahead by 15 points and with 15 seconds remaining in the game.
Howard confirmed that in the postgame news conference.
“I didn’t like the timeout they called, and I’m being totally honest with you,” Howard told reporters. “I thought it was not necessary at that moment, especially with it being a large lead. ... I thought that wasn’t fair to our guys. And so that’s what happened.
“I addressed with the head coach that I will remember that, because of that timeout,” Howard added. “I think that was very uncalled for him to touch me as we were communicating with one another. That is what escalated it.”
“Apparently, he didn’t like that I called a timeout to reset the 10-second call,” Gard told CBS Sports. “We only had 4 seconds to get the ball past half court. I didn’t want to put my bench guys in that position of scrambling, so I took the timeout. He did not like that when he came through the handshake line.”
Howard, 49, who played at Michigan from 1991 through 1994, starred for 19 seasons in the NBA as a power forward.
Sunday’s incident was reminiscent of Howard’s shouting match with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon at last year’s Big Ten tournament, ESPN reported. Howard was ejected and began walking toward Turgeon before he was restrained by his assistant coaches.
“There is no room, no space for conduct like that at any competition, much less Big Ten competition,” Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh told the Journal-Sentinel. “The Big Ten takes pride in sportsmanship. The Big Ten takes pride in acting with class and that didn’t happen today. And it’s unfortunate.
“I expect the league is going to act swiftly and aggressively.”
In a statement, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel called the postgame behavior “totally unacceptable.”
“There is no excuse for any of our staff or student-athletes to get into a physical altercation with others regardless of instigating factors,” Warde said. “We will review the situation more thoroughly and work with the Big Ten Conference as they determine their disciplinary actions and will determine if any further disciplinary actions are required.”
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