Twenty-four hours after Chimezie Metu struck a Washington State player in the groin on Sunday night while contesting a corner 3-pointer, USC coach Andy Enfield announced what punishment his star forward will face.
Turns out a blow to the manhood only merits a slap on the wrist.
Metu won’t miss so much as a full game for a punch that left Washington State’s Carter Skaggs curled up on the floor writhing in pain. USC suspended him for the first half of its game at Cal on Thursday, stripped him of his captaincy and required him to write an apology letter to Skaggs and Washington State coach Ernie Kent.
“A lack of judgment for a split second led to an action that I immediately regretted and had no business committing in the first place,” Metu said in the letter. “I understand there is no place in the game of basketball for such an unsportsmanlike action.”
Metu’s apology was appropriate, but USC’s a half-game suspension seems a little light. How much dirtier would Metu have needed to get to merit sitting a full game? A theatrical WWE-style low blow?
“That’s something I’ve never had happen to me before,” Skaggs told the Spokane Spokesman Review after Sunday’s 89-71 loss to the Trojans. “That kid took a full fist and really tried to take a swing at me. Then, the funny thing is, one of their assistant coaches looked up at me and said, ‘Why are you faking?’”
When other college players have taken cheap shots similar to Metu’s, the penalties have varied in their severity.
In 2005, Wake Forest suspended Chris Paul in the ACC tournament quarterfinals after TV replays revealed that he had punched NC State’s Julius Hodge below the belt in the Demon Deacons’ previous game. In 2006, George Mason suspended senior guard Tony Skinn for the Patriots’ NCAA tournament opener after he punched a Hofstra player in the groin in the closing seconds of a CAA tournament game. At the same time, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks received no further punishment after being ejected for kicking Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson in the groin last season.
Metu is the leading scorer on a USC team that began the season in the AP top 10 but has failed to live up to expectations. The 6-foot-11 junior is averaging 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds, but the Trojans are off to a pedestrian 10-5 start that includes losses to Princeton and Washington.
Don’t expect the Pac-12 to add to Metu’s suspension. Conference commissioner Larry Scott actually lauded USC for “taking swift action in response to this incident.”
“The Pac-12 strongly emphasizes positive sporting behavior and integrity in all its athletic competitions and expects high standards of sportsmanship from all participants,” Scott said. “Mr. Metu’s action toward a fellow student-athlete is unacceptable and the Conference supports USC’s disciplinary measures. The Conference will take no further disciplinary action.”
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