Seton Hall forward Herb Pope was ejected from the opening round of the Pirates’ NIT opener against Texas Tech.
With 14:19 remaining in the first half, Pope was battling for position with Red Raider forward Darko Cohadarevic in the Pirates offensive end when the two players seemed to tangle with each other.
On the ensuing possession, Pope and Cohadarevic battled again, this time Cohadarevic ended up on the floor.
The ESPN broadcast stated that Pope threw a punch.
During the next media timeout, the referees determined that the punch was flagrant and ejected Pope.
Video replays showed that Pope hit Cohadarevic below the waistline.
“I didn’t see it but clearly he must have deserved to go out in how adamant the officials were,” head coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “But the only frustration I had was that it seemed like the first three or four minutes it was back and forth back and forth and he just got frustrated. But again you can’t do what he did.”
Cohadarevic told SNY’s Adam Zagoria after the game that he has never experienced something like this, not even by accident.
“I just couldn’t breathe for a second,” he said. “When I was on the ground the second time, the referee kept saying, “Stop faking it, stop faking it.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not faking it.’ I couldn’t even breathe.”
Pope was not made available to the media, but Gonzalez acknowledged that he did speak with him.
“Before I could even talk to him, he was in tears in the locker room apologizing to his teammates because he knew that he got frustrated and reacted,” Gonzalez said. “He realized later on that he hurt his teammates by him not playing it hurt everybody and he felt bad about that.”
Following the ejection, senior John Garcia filled in, playing 18 minutes in the game.
“He immediately came to me and apologized for getting kicked out of the game,” Garcia said. “He’s really emotional because he felt that he cost us the game. He kept apologizing, like 10 times. I told him, ‘you know, Herb, I’m going to stick by you.’ He just lost his cool.”
The NCAA Basketball rules state “a fight is a confrontation involving one of more players, coaches or other team personnel wherein (but not limited to) a fist, hand, arm, foot, knee or leg is used to combatively strike the other individual.”
Under rule 10, article 2 of the rulebook, “the first time an individual participates in a fight during a season (including exhibition games), the individual shall be suspended from participating in the team’s next regular season game (not an exhibition contest), including tournament competition.”
Athletic Director Joe Quinlan is not worried about a possible suspension of Pope for next year.
“I don’t think so,” Quinlan said. “It’s unfortunate and it’s not something that anyone wants to see.”
This is not the first instance where Pope has been assessed a foul for rough play.
On Feb. 23, Pope was charged with an intentional foul with .5 seconds on the clock when he stopped a Rutgers player from dunking as time expired.
Pope was not ejected and the Pirates won the game 76-70.
Tim LeCras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.