While the University Of Illinois has issued a statement of apology concerning the verbal abuse directed towards Indiana freshman Eric Gordon during the Hoosiers’ 83-79 double OT win Thursday night, ESPN’s Jay Bilas tells the Indy Star’s Terry Hutchens the game officials and Illinois alike handled matters poorly.
llinois guard Chester Frazier knocked Gordon backward with a chest bump during introductions. Illinois coach Bruce Weber, IU coach Kelvin Sampson and Gordon downplayed the incident. Weber said Frazier bumped E’Twaun Moore before the Illini’s game against Purdue.
Bilas, who broadcast IU’s win Thursday in Champaign, described it as “over the top and inappropriate.”
>“You don’t show toughness like that,” Bilas said. “You show toughness by making a play or stepping to the line and hitting a big free throw. That’s how you show toughness in a basketball game.
“It’s not by giving some guy a shot in the pregame warm-ups.”
Big Ten referees Steve Welmer, Ted Hillary and Steve Olson saw the chest bump but decided not to call a technical.
Bilas spoke to Welmer at halftime. Welmer told Bilas that he told Frazier to “dial it down.”
“(Welmer) said, ‘I’ve never called a technical foul before a game started and I didn’t want to do that in that situation,’ ” Bilas said.
Illinois fans booed Gordon throughout the game, but it was the pregame profanity-laced chant that bothered Bilas. That, too, could have drawn a technical foul.
“That’s just wrong,” Bilas said. “That’s where somebody in charge . . . needs to say something. They’re not obligated to do this, but I think it would have been a great gesture if someone had gotten on the microphone and said, ‘This will not happen at the University of Illinois.’
“You can’t tar an entire crowd with the actions of a few. But at the same time, there’s a certain level of decorum that the university needs to insist upon. They could have made a principle stand there, but they chose not to do that.”