Friday, November 14, 2008

Pulling No Punches

Here's the blow-by-blow of A.J. Price's little brouhaha with Western Carolina's Joey Parker:

Apparently, the two had a bit of a tussle in front of the UConn bench with a little under 8 minutes to play. According to Price: "The guy ran into me and flopped back and they called a foul on me."

The next time down the court, Price appeared to punch Parker in the stomach (and the TV monitor replay confirmed as much).

"I wouldn't call it a punch," Price said. "Maybe a little elbow or a little love tap or something like that."

"It certainly wasn't a very dynamic punch," added Jim Calhoun.

Whatever. With Parker in pain, Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter apparently implored the officiating crew to take a look at the monitor, and they agreed Price had thrown a punch and booted him from the game.

"It was frustration building up through the whole game, little things going on the whole game," Price said. "I let something get the best of me, and I guess he got the worst of me. We got tangled up a little bit, and I guess he got the worst of it."

In fact, it was Parker who got under Price as Price lofted up a 3-pointer with about 71/2 minutes left in the first half. Price landed on Parker's foot and crumpled to the ground in pain. Visions of last year's torn ACL injury immediately danced in everyone's heads, but it turned out to be just a sprained ankle.

Price returned to the game about three minutes later but wound up going scoreless for just the second time in his career (the first being last March's San Diego ACL game).

Price also turned the ball over five times.

"I come away positive about the whole thing," he said. "We won big, like we're supposed to, and we looked good doing it."

Indeed, Price's situation -- which I probably wrote about too much in my game story -- was the only negative for UConn. Jerome Dyson was terrific (he really seems more mature, more active, a more complete player) and Hasheem Thabeet keeps proving that rumors of his improved offensive arsenal were, indeed, the truth.

Jeff Adrien and Craig Austrie were very solid, and Kemba Walker overcame a shaky first half in which he appeared to force things too much and wound up with eight points and five assists, including a nifty no-look to Thabeet for a dunk with 13:22 left that brought the crowd to its feet.

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