There is no excuse for charging at a game official. It is also little bit telling that Marshall, when presented an opportunity to do so since a beat writer was present and ESPN's Andy Katz followed up with him, never thought to apologize to McGill for his antics. That is American Idiot behaviour -- the classic 'if you don't get your way, overreact by a factor of 10.' It probably won't result in any disciplinary action from the Wichita State athletic department, since it was only an exhibition game in Canada.
(Updates: Marshall will not coach in Wichita State's last game of the tour, big woop. The statement doesn't address dragging McGill into this nonsense, but the state school issued a "verbal apology" to McGill. Typical.
(I also understand this has been shared around on a Wichita State fan board by Marshall apologists. It's not about you guys, and your coach is lucky he didn't end up being booked for assault.)
Here are a couple videos, the one shot by a fan at Love Competition Hall and another from the McGill Sports Network webcast.
It is worth noting that the fan made note of, "Brutal calls all game."
Here is the thing: people who are around Canadian university basketball have long said, sotto voce, that the quality of officiating has not kept up with the ever-increasing level of play. That ties back not to the integrity and the skills of the officials, but the support they receive.
For any Wichita State fans who have come by, this is not an exoneration of Gregg Marshall. He wears it, fully completely. He is very lucky that he was restrained by his staff and players, because there was potential there for assault. His spouse Lynn Marshall's "apologizing to Montreal by stimulating the economy" comment, while no doubt meant to defuse tension, is very condescending.
This is being written solely from the perspective of a Canadian, as it pertains to our game. Using it to excuse Gregg Marshall is pathetic.
With that out of the way, the concern about reffing in CIS was given voice six months ago when Wayne Kondro wrote a detailed piece for the website that outlined how basketball officiating in Canada probably has fallen behind since it is still largely dependent on a culture of volunteerism.
I cannot say definitively whether that came to a head at McGill's Love Competition Hall on Tuesday. I was not there, and there is no neutral account of events. The Wichita Eagle described it as "no-blood, no-foul game," As of last check, the Montreal Gazette hasn't even posted a link. That's all we have.
We do know it was "steaming hot" inside the gym. We also know the identity Dave DeAveiro has cultivated over seven seasons at McGill is built around defending and being physical.
Given that "WSU didn't scout the [Carleton] Ravens," it's fair to wonder what Marshall did to prepare his team for McGill. He probably did very little, and it is a complete and utter coaching fail to send athletes into any competition unprepared. Also, if you have ever attended one of these August games, you should know that to the Canadian teams, it's little brother vs. big brother. Deadspin is foolish for their take that it was "a meaningless game that was supposed to be played at half-speed and produce zero headlines."
On the first and third counts, sure. But the reason the D-1 teams visit is to get a hard push before the official start of practice. All of the teams that have come up through the years -- Baylor, Cincinnati, Illinois-Chicago, Syracuse, Villanova, Wisconsin, to name a few who have done the Ottawa-Montreal loop -- respected that they would be in a for a game.
The Redmen no doubt came ready to test themselves against Division 1 mid-major. Perhaps Wichita State, coming from the NCAA where there's less latitude for physical play than there is under FIBA standards, was taken aback. That's their fault.
It's one thing if the officials give some leeway to play hard, but it roils coaches and players when they believe there's inconsistency from one possession to the next. That's in keeping with what people have long believed prevails in CIS. You would have had to be there on Tuesday to know if that applied.
That might come back to a lack of support to properly pay officials and subsidizing continuing education. As Kondro pointed out, the telecoms that are profiting from the rise in basketball's popularity aren't doing a damn thing to help give the "Nash generation" and the "Wiggins generation" and the "Kia Nurse generation" the officiating they deserve.
In university ball, if CIS vs. NCAA teams is something we all want, there is an onus to make sure the gatekeepers, the officials, have all the training they need to keep a situation from escalating. There's no guarantee that would prevent something like this from happening again. It's reasonable to say, without faulting the officials, without faulting McGill, that Gregg Marshall's grotesque behaviour exposed gaps in Canada's basketball infrastructure.
What Marshall did was abject and inexcusable. Throwing in the hot gym and a hotly contested game, and I can sort of see why Marshall lost his mind. I fully assume this will be laughed off as a one-off incident, the hotheaded NCAA coach acting like a fish out of water. It is that, and if you want to see it as such, go right ahead.
This would not happen in a regular CIS game, where the coaches and officials see each other almost every weekend. Point being, that is a thin thread to hold on to, and CIS and Canada Basketball got an unfriendly reminder of it this week.