What is it about UNC and end of game hard fouls by rival teams?
Shades of the Duke game in 2007 no doubt.
For those who did not see it, in the final few seconds NC State's Ben McCauley commited a hard foul from behind as Mike Copeland went up for a dunk. McCauley made a clear play on the ball but made sure the foul was felt. In doing so he ended striking Copeland in the head knocking him to the floor. McCauley was called for an immediate intentional foul on the basis of how hard the foul was which seems to be a pattern in the ways referees are calling fouls. Copeland took exception to foul and jumped ugly with McCauley before the referee stepped in to move Copeland off before ejecting him(possibly at Roy's request.) and Roy sent him to the locker room. Roy said afterward Copeland overreacted, McCauley apologized which Roy said was unnecessary and the UNC coach offered an apology to Sidney Lowe over Copeland's actions.
First of all, Copeland was wrong. His reaction was understandable in respect to how he probably perceived what happened. Copeland never saw McCauley coming and as far as he knows he just got smacked in the head and knocked to the floor. From this point of view Copeland has plenty to be pissed about. At the same time, he needs to maintain control. In reality it was a hard foul but nothing so egregious it was worth Copeland getting himself tossed from the game. Sometimes hard fouls happen and this was a clear overreaction on Copeland's part. As I said his perception in the heat of the moment got the best of him. At any rate I am sure Roy will be affording Copeland plenty of opportunities to think about what he did wrong.
What stands out to me more concerning McCauley is not the foul but the manner in which McCauley conducted himself on the court after the foul. Now, I do understand that McCauley manned up by offering an apology to Roy which was deemed unnecessary by the UNC coach. That still does not absolve McCauley from his talking smack in the immediate aftermath. When asked about it postgame this is what McCauley said:
Q: You did look like you were saying, “Not in my house.” Were you defending your turf?
A: Absolutely. He can do that on his own floor or whatever, but don’t come into our home building with the game over pretty much and try to dunk like that. It’s kind of disrespectful.
Now that's funny. Based on what the scoreboard said and the fact Tyler Hansbrough had just dropped 31 points on the Wolfpack I would say the Heels did a lot of things "in your house" all afternoon. You can talk about defending your turf or house or whatever but committing a hard foul on the a bench warmer is little like hitting a looter in what's left of your living room to stop him from smashing your coffee table after the rest of his gang has already burned most of your house to the ground. If McCauley was so concerned about what UNC was doing in his house, maybe he should have done more than score five points.
That, more than anything else, is why Copeland should have handled it better. If an opposing player is willing to commit a hard foul over some notion that one dunk at the end of the game is somehow disrespectful despite the smackdown your teammates have just administered, then let him. The worst thing you can do is let that overblown sense of bravado provoke you into casting a bad light on your team's win.