Wisconsin coach Greg Gard had seen and heard enough. So, after his 25th-ranked Badgers lost to No. 5 Iowa 77-73 on Sunday, Gard teed off on the officiating, opposing teams and the Big Ten office.
Gard’s initial displeasure stemmed from a sequence in the final 30 seconds of the game. With the Hawkeyes leading by three, Brad Davison drew a foul. But after the play, the Iowa bench asked for a review, the second time it had done so in a situation involving Davison. That review resulted in Davison being called for a hook-and-hold flagrant foul.
The normally reserved Gard could be heard on the telecast taking official Bo Borowski to task, saying, “Every time, Bo. Every f**king time. It’s embarrassing.” That was seconds after Borowski made a controversial call on D’Mitrik Trice with the game tied that sent him to the bench with five fouls and gave Iowa three free throws.
D'Mitrik Trice fouls out with 34.3 seconds left, Jordan Bohannon hits all three FTs to give Iowa the lead. I don't see a foul here, whether on the floor or on the shot. pic.twitter.com/ySsdcwrR17
Gard’s temperament was more reserved during his post-game press conference, but his message was not. He made clear that he believes officials have allowed teams to weaponize the ability to call for reviews, especially when it comes to Davison.
“The area I really want to address is the mockery that has now been made of the hook-and-hold,” said Gard, whose team fell to 0-7 this year in Big Ten games Borowski officiated. “It appears to have become a Brad Davison rule. Where it’s become quite frankly a joke. Anytime there is a foul or a question, opponents are yelling to the official to go to the monitor. I saw the play. If college basketball is headed in this direction, we’re in big trouble.”
The hook-and-hold rule was put in place for the 2018-19 season largely to limit dangerous plays in the post. Despite being a guard, Davison has been called for more than his share in the last three seasons, including in the first game against Iowa. But this play happened as Davison was cutting to the basket and neither player appeared to be in danger.
“Really it sickens me that we have games decided like this and this is where it’s at,” Gard said. “That rule was not put in place for that. That was for safety of players. That was for post play. Those types of things happen on every single possession of the game, specifically in the post. I think it’s turned into a joke.”
Gard took it a step further and suggested officials, opponents and the Big Ten office are not treating Davison fairly.
“I feel bad for Brad Davison. He is a great kid. He plays his ass off,” Gard said. “But he continues to get screwed by this and how the officials and the league and opponents have continued just to call that out and put a spotlight on that and deaden the ball. It has become sickening really. It’s making a mockery of college basketball, specifically in the positions we’ve been in.”
The normally quiet Jonathan Davis was also not impressed with the call.
“The officiating crew screwed us on that call with Brad,” Davis said. “Every game I feel like it’s something going on with Brad.”
Davison has earned a reputation as a hard-charging player that gives everything he’s got in every game. Along with that he has drawn the label of being a dirty player from opposing fanbases and some UW fans, with many feeling validated when he was suspended by the Big Ten for one game last year following an incident against Iowa.
But it is not just fans that have given life to that narrative. Certain media outlets have as well, including ESPN during a game earlier this season when they showed a fake Wikipedia page that said Davison “averaged 2.3 dirty plays per game” and his position was “school threat.”
“I’m just trying to protect a player,” Gard said of his reasoning for speaking out so forcefully. “They’ve put a spotlight on him, and I’ve asked the league to stop it and they’ve allowed it to get out of hand. The character of the kid now with what ESPN did with their Wikipedia thing. ESPN can issue all the apologies they want. The kid is a great kid. He has done a phenomenal job for our program. He has been a great representative of this university, and I’m just tired of him constantly getting put in that light. It’s got to stop.”
When Gard was asked about the possibility of the Big Ten taking action against him for his comments, he said the league office knows his number and how to get ahold of him.
“(The media) continues to take shots at the kid. That is where enough if enough,” Gard said. “I’m tired of it. I’m going to call it out when it happens and I’m calling it out today.”