Seton Hall & St. John's Scuffle Reignites Post-Game Handshake Debate

Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden between the Seton Hall Pirates (19-7) and the St. John’s Red Storm (8-20) ended in old school 90s Knicks fashion with both teams being pulled off the court after a clash broke out. The tussle appeared to center around senior Seton Hall guard Derrick Gordon, but no origin has been confirmed.

TSFJ has exclusive video footage of the skirmish.

The game was a hard-fought one, surprising many people including those in attendance. St. John’s struggle has been notoriously and painfully real this year, having won only one game in the Big East while Seton Hall is poised to make its first tournament appearance since 2006.

Seton Hall jumped out ahead early, finishing the first half with a comfortable 36-22 lead over the Red Storm. In the second half, the Johnnies came out swinging, going on an 8-0 run and effectively closing the gap the Pirates had worked so hard to create in the first half. The battle raged on for 16 minutes before St. John’s took its first lead of the game. The last three minutes of the game, both teams traded free throws before a controversial foul was called on St. John’s guard Ron Mvouika with five seconds left on the clock. Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead sank both free throws, sealing Seaton Hall’s victory and likely its NCAA bid.

The referees, who were a point of contention for fans for most of the second half, were booed heavily as they walked of the court.

Booing referees is as commonplace as you get in sports; fighting between college kids at the end of games not so much. While shaking hands after a game is as much part of sports as the national anthem, there is something to be said for not putting emotional players in such close contact just moments after the game ends. Best case scenario, they act like adults. Worst case, they act like the kids they are.

But suggesting to do away with the post-game has been met with much opposition, outrage even.

Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard called this particular fight a non-starter, but did comment on the handshake protocol.

Is Willard right? Should college basketball adopt a more business-like, NBA-styled approach to post-game protocol. There are several arguments to be made for ending the tradition. But there are many more for keeping it.

The handshake is seen as a sign of respect - for the game, for the spirit of competition, recognition of effort from one athlete to another. But every handshake is different and perception is reality, especially in the seconds following a big win or a tough loss. So if removing something that might be a mitigating factor in a college kid’s decision to be offended or not does more good than bad, then what’s the harm? Or at the very least, add in a “rivalry” or “chippiness” clause that allows teams to opt out of the handshake if things were getting rough on the court.

At the end of the day, player’s safety is the most important thing. And if having a post-game handshake exemption clause aides in that, then I think that’s a discussion the NCAA should be having.

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