Published Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 | 11:57 p.m.
Updated Monday, March 1, 2010 | 7:20 p.m.
Alford vs. Tavernari
Editor's note: See an update on Alford's outburst from the Mountain West Conference.
Forget the fact that the Mountain West Conference is enjoying a breakout year on the hardwood, but the league's adding a good amount of drama to the fold.
No. 10 New Mexico essentially captured the MWC regular season title Saturday by going up to Provo and doing what few do, knocking off No. 13 BYU, 83-81.
Now, for fans who follow the league closely, none of what transpired late in the game and immediately afterward between UNM coach Steve Alford and BYU senior forward — and Bishop Gorman grad — Jonathan Tavernari should come as a monstrous surprise.
Alford is by far the league's most outspoken coach and is no stranger to getting emotional on the sidelines. Heck, when the Lobos came to Las Vegas earlier this month and axed the Rebels, he let out a huge fist pump (a Jersey Shore fan??) and a couple of expletives to boot in the closing seconds.
Tavernari is one of the league's more notorious instigators. It's typically not in a negative fashion. He's just that guy who you hate to play against in a pick-up game because you know he's going to hound you to no end, treating a random day at the rec center like it's the Final Four.
During the closing moments of New Mexico's victory Saturday, Darington Hobson was calling a timeout near mid-court, and Tavernari continued to ride all over him even after the whistle was blown. This didn't please Hobson much, as he threw a slight elbow to get Tavernari off of his back. Tavernari then needed to be restrained by teammate Jackson Emery and things ultimately cooled off.
(Sidenote: Let's not forget that in that New Mexico win in Las Vegas, Hobson did the same thing during a tie-up with Chace Stanback. Just pointing that out for the record.)
Until the postgame handshake line, that is.
The embedded YouTube clip clearly captures a verbal exchange between Alford and Tavernari, which concludes with Alford calling the opposing player a ... um ... you can listen for yourself.
Tavernari later went to the New Mexico locker room along with BYU AD Tom Holmoe to offer his apologies for letting things escalate the way they did.
So now I want your thoughts on this.
Was Alford out of line? Is this a regular occurrence, but this time it just happened to be caught on camera? Was he justified?
What about Tavernari? Did he get what he deserved? Should Alford have taken the high road and chalked it up to a young man getting overheated during the end of an emotional game?
My 2 cents is that this whole thing is overblown. I don't think anyone can say they wouldn't have been a bit hot-headed late in a tight game carrying that much importance. Should Alford probably not have said it? Of course not. I'm not saying it's right, but I'm sure it's not the first time a coach has had a word or two with an opposing player who's a pest. Plus, we really don't know what all Tavernari said before the portion that was caught on tape. Just sayin' ...
What about you? Lets discuss it below ...