Guest Commentary

Here it is, courtesy of ... me.

Guest Commentary: Bearcats can shed punk label with victory
The Vermont Catamounts are a bunch of punks.

Two years ago, nearly to the day, Kyle Cieplicki and company came to Binghamton as the sixth seed and knocked the second-seeded Bearcats out of our own America East tournament.

And three years ago, nearly to the day, Kyle Cieplicki and company came to Binghamton as the top seed and knocked the fourth-seeded Bearcats out of our own America East tournament.

Punks, they are. I can’t stand ‘em.

But I’m not trying to make a character judgment about Mr. Cieplicki, or any other Catamount. I call these guys punks — because they beat us. And they beat us all the time.

These days, the Catamounts aren’t the only group of punks patrolling the America East. One other team is quickly making its case: Binghamton.

But here’s the thing: Binghamton is earning its reputation differently.

It’s not the BU Zoo. Our rowdy student section earned its sour reputation years ago, with vulgar chants and inappropriate gestures.

(But if this is the first time you’ve picked up a Pipe Dream since your last road trip to Vestal, know this: the Zoo has been — surprisingly — much more well-behaved.)

Nope; this year, the bad rep is coming not from us, but from a more unlikely source: our head coach, Kevin Broadus.

Some bloggers have referred to it as “post-game comment-gate:” After Binghamton won at Albany in January, UA head coach Will Brown declared himself an “Al Walker guy,” musing that Binghamton’s ex-head coach “left the cupboard full” — an obvious shot at Broadus and his staff. Brown also took a pot shot at Reggie Fuller, making a convoluted he’s-no-Dikembe-Mutombo comparison.

Wrong? Yes. A couple steps too far? Sure. But as the media firestorm set in, Brown says he extended the olive branch later that week, calling Broadus to offer an apology. Broadus didn’t answer. According to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Broadus was waiting to speak to Brown “face-to-face.” And after Albany came to Binghamton and obliterated Broadus’ squad on Senior Night, the two coaches had that opportunity.

The facts here are still fuzzy, (as was the Time Warner Cable video — YouTube it if you want), but by several accounts, in the post-game handshake line — after giving Brown a half-hearted “handshake” (think: Down low — too slow!), Broadus proceeded to shove UA assistant coach Chad O’Donnell.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m one of the biggest homers I know. (See the wiry kid in the Zoo, with his chest painted green?) I love the Bearcats.

But that, readers, is a punk move, straight up.

KB was subsequently suspended for BU’s final regular-season game, against Stony Brook.

(In retrospect, it’s a good thing we played the one team you don’t even need a head coach — or your injured best player — to beat … but I digress.)

The BU athletics department issued the following “apology” from Broadus last week:

“I regret my participation in any actions which might have brought negative attention to our team and to Binghamton University.”

Ex-head coach Walker did a lot of things wrong, culminating in his termination last March. (Just for the record, in Al’s defense, we would have beaten UVM in 2006 if Sebastian Hermenier could walk, and no Catamounts fan will ever convince me otherwise.)

It was obvious the men’s basketball program needed a new direction this season, and nearly everyone seemed overjoyed by the signing of a Georgetown assistant fresh out of the Final Four.

Say what you will, but, Walker never laid his hands on another coach. Walker never served a department-imposed suspension, especially in the last game before your team — nay, your community — hosts the conference’s biggest event of the year. Between Al’s antics, the Zoo’s frequent misbehavior and Binghamton’s constant assertions that we have all this supposed “talent” every year — despite our always mediocre record — most America East fans already were not enamored with good old SUNY-B.

Landing a new coach gave us a fresh chance to erase that bad reputation.

And in less than a year, Broadus has already managed to not only restore it, but enhance it.

Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Vermont surely embraces being punks.

More recently, Albany is becoming the new punks — with back-to-back America East titles … punks.

The difference is, Vermont and Albany earn their punk reputation by winning. Kevin Broadus earns us a punk reputation by pushing a coach in a handshake line.

This weekend, Broadus and his Bearcats have an opportunity to legitimize that rep. They’ll tip with rival UVM at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and if they somehow survive the Catamounts, they’ll face top-seeded UMBC (barring a Maine miracle) on Sunday.

Back-to-back wins, and the America East will have to embrace us as its punks.

But if we lose — I can only hope our community is not again embarrassed by another thuggish handshake-line shove.

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