March 26, 2010
Of all the unexpected finishes this March, Evan Turner walking off the floor without congratulating (allegedly, supposedly, assumedly) the opposing team may be the most surprising.
The player-of-the-year winner acted like a sore loser in the immediate aftermath of second-seeded Ohio State's 76-73 loss to No. 6 Tennessee. More on that in a minute.
As the Ohio State offense scrambled in the final seconds, Turner had two chances to tie the game at 76 and send it to overtime. The first shot, the one from the far baseline, barely met the iron. The second came after Turner grabbed the wild carom and was then denied by the repressing palm of J.P. Prince, who pushed back Turner's shot and sent Ohio State home.
Here's what Turner had to say about the final sequence: "We were running a pin down for Jon, but they overplayed it, except the first shot I had fake out bumped and I shot the ball and we missed and the second one, you know, I still got a clear shot. And then it just didn't go in."
The Buckeyes are the latest high-seeded victim be taken out by a lower seed, joining Syracuse, Kansas, Villanova, Georgetown, New Mexico and Pittsburgh.
"I definitely liked the look I got," Turner said about his first 3-pointer in the waning seconds. "I thought it was going to be like an and-one shot. I thought I was going to get a call or something. I liked the look on the second one, it was just I saw one second on the clock and I turned and I missed.
After the block, you'll see Turner brush off teammate Jon Diebler's offer to help him off the floor, and then he walks across the court, seemingly intent on finding the locker room before he finds a Volunteer's hand to shake.
Should Turner be roasted for this?
LeBron James put himself in a similar situation last year, and that prompted a lot of criticism of James' "immature" attitude. But James is 40 times the public figure Turner is. Do we make too much of this handshake line thing as is? Losing hurts. And the way Turner lost was embarrassing. That was an extremely impressive, emphatic block by Prince, and it's easy to understand how badly Turner wanted to get out of the building after that.
If there are doubters of whether or not Turner walked off without assembling in the handshake line, we asked a source who was on press row about the incident and he told us this:
"Yes ... he did. Diagonally off the court, past the Tennessee bench and assumedly down the tunnel. He half-acknowledged a Vol who tapped him. I can't 100% confirm that someone didn't grab him and bring him back, but I doubt that happened."
What makes this so interesting is the nature of who Turner is. There seemingly hasn't been one word of bad press written about him all season. The praisings came just about every week after he came back from a broken back in December.