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Holy Family Assault: Much Ado About Nothing

By Wyatt Earp | February 24, 2011

BlackOrchid mentioned this story today, so I figured I’d add my $0.02. This is John O’Connor and Matt Kravchuck. O’Connor is the head coach of the Holy Family University basketball team and Matt is one of his players.

Kravchuk filed criminal charges against O’Connor for knocking him down and kicking him during a practice. There is video of the incident, which I posted below the fold. The two appeared on Good Morning America today, with their lawyers, to hash things out.

O’Connor, at the urging of co-host George Stephanopoulos, looked directly at the student and said: “Matt, this was an accident. I was just trying to make us a better team and make us more competitive. . . . I’m really sorry that it happened. If I could take it back, I would.”

“To be honest it’s kind of hard to accept your apology,” Kravchuk replied. “I can’t play for you any more. As your player I’m supposed to respect you, and I can’t do that anymore.”

Kravchuk seemed to stand by the criminal complaint he filed with the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, explaining that he felt the school was slow to take any disciplinary action.

See? I’m siding with the coach almost immediately after that. O’Connor apologized to Kravchuk and he refused to accept the apology – probably because he is looking to get paid. I think that exchange tells you a lot about both men.

Here is O’Connor’s explanation of the incident:

O’Connor explained he was conducting a “combat rebounding drill” to help the players learn to be tougher. Before the incident, the practice video – a routine taping somehow leaked to Fox29 on Saturday – shows drill Kravchuk and another player repeatedly banging into each other as the coach bounced balls off the rim.

A ball fell between Kravchuk and O’Connor, and the coach moved in, lifting an arm, grabbing the ball, and bumping the player to the ground. To some, the contact looks like an intentional shoving, with the kicking motion seeming to reinforce the appearance of anger.

“I just nudged him with my foot to kind of get him to keep moving in his drill,” O’Connor said on GMA.

As many of you know, I coached high school lacrosse for 18 years, so I know a thing or two about player-coach interaction. In coaching, one of the first rules you need to learn is that players and coaches are human. They will make mistakes. You don’t jump on a player for a “good faith” mistake, like slashing an opponent while trying to get the ball. You do jump on a player for a “lazy” mistake, such as shooting five feet wide of the net because a player rushed a shot.

If one of my players made a good faith mistake, I would tell them about it when the got to the sidelines. If one of my players made a lazy mistake, they – and everyone else on the field – would know about it immediately, because I would be verbally ripping them a new arse from the sidelines. Lazy players need a thrashing now and then, and I have done pretty much everything from screaming at players, to grabbing their face-masks and pulling them to me, to smothering them with relentless sarcasm.

Maybe I’m old school, but when I grew up you expected a coach’s wrath when you frakked up. If a coach got in your face, you took the abuse, sucked up and moved on. Pushing, shoving, etc. were accepted. Unless the coach punched you in the face, no one made a big deal out of it.

To me, this incident falls into the above category. To me, it looks like O’Connor is trying to motivate his players generally, and Kravchuk specifically. But abuse? Assault? No, I don’t see that here.

Kravchuk said previously that he suffered a bloody nose, a hurt wrist and facial cuts during the incident.

If Kravchuk’s worst “injury” is a bloody nose – an injury he could receive at any time on a basketball court – then O’Connor’s drill was completely appropriate. The players – especially Kravchuk – needed a little toughening up.

To me, this looks like the coach inserted himself in the drill to prove a point about how tough grabbing a rebound can be. The kick? Please. He barely touched him.

But that’s just me. Discuss.

Topics: Duct Tape Advisory, Philly | 32 Comments »

32 Responses to “Holy Family Assault: Much Ado About Nothing”

  1. John D Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Yet another step in the pussification of America.

  2. Randal Graves Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Dude, I used to get tossed around way worse than that by my o-line coach in high school. Suck it up, pansy boy.

    What do you expect from a sissy Catholic college anyway? zing.

  3. Randal Graves Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    This just in: District Attorney Seth Williams said his office of private criminal complaints reviewed the Jan. 25 incident involving player Matt Kravchuk and determined that “this even does not constitute a prosecutable criminal offense.

    Too bad Matty.

  4. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    John D – It’s getting worse every day. When we were growing up, things like this were commonplace.

    Randal – Oh, that’s a shame. Better luck with the civil suit, Kravchuk. Wuss.

  5. Ferrell Gummitt Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Two things:
    What would Mr. Kravchuk do if he were coached by Bobby Knight — cry everytime Bobby raised his voice to him?

    When I was in high school in the late ’70′s I had a Math Teacher my senior year whom yelled at me in Study Hall because I got a “D” on a test. He said that I was better than this and he said that on Monday he would give me a retest — It was Thursday. When I got home I told my mother about it and all she said was “better get studying it’s four days away”. I got an A on the second test.

    There is no way today because of John D’s “Pussification of America” that a teacher could get away with that today without being fired and then sued by the kid’s parents for emotional distress.

    Grow up kid. It gets much harder in the real world.

  6. BlackOrchid Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    It made me absolutely SICK!

    as a woman, I feel it is my duty to dispense shame appropriately on members of society (this is per Phyllis Chesler I think) so I’m going to . .

    Matty you a PUSS!!!! looooooooooooooser!

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Ferrell – It certainly does. And what does his next coach do? Now he has to walk on eggshells for fear of a lawsuit.

    Orchid – I would use the term “Puss-aah,” but yours is pretty appropriate here.

  8. BlackOrchid Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Seriously, my seven-year-old . . . DAUGHTER could have handled that “assault” from her coach!

    Jesus Mary and Joseph! (as they say at Holy Family, I’d presume)

    I am just hoping that sad little wussbag is Googling for blog posts and hits this one. What would he do with a real coach? Soil himself? Ooh wait, maybe he did. Maybe that’s not on video cos of his pullup, but it caused him “emotional distress.”

    Hey Wyatt this is fun! It’s way better than my usual yelling at our stupid local radio hosts in my car thing!

    There *is* no decent local Philly blog by the way, save this one. Just saying!

  9. JT Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Kinda off topic, but continuing on John D’s observation…..

    After watching JLo cry last night, ya know who I think would’ve made a great idol judge ?

    Sam Kinison.

  10. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Orchid – My college lacrosse coach would put us in goal is we frakked up during practice. Then you waited while he threw hard lax balls at you at close to 100 mph. The second one hit you in the leg or thigh – or worse – you got the message. I used to come home with welts, and I never bitched about it.

    Oh, and thank you for the compliment. It was a compliment, right?

    JT – “He really seems to care. About what, I have no idea.”

  11. Robin Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Wow! You guys are ruthless. I might side with the coach if he hadn’t said it was an accident. Then he says he deliberately nudged him with his foot. Which is it? Sounds to me like the coach is an insincere, lying bastard that I wouldn’t want my kid to play for, either. Do you think the coach would have done that to a grown man that wasn’t under his authority? He strikes me as a coward, too.

  12. metoo Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    The kid needs to grow a pair..

  13. BlackOrchid Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Robin are you for real? That kid is way bigger and stronger than him. Guess what? If Mattilda was so upset and he punched this coach, I guarantee you the coach would have been like “Oh well my bad.”

    Wah wah wah wah poor wittle baby . . . you must be a Modern Mommy. cut the damn cord already

    I’m pissed about this story because it’s so BLAZING clear that the parents of this Giant Toddler are just angling for some of that sweet, sweet Holy Family moolah (of which they sure as hell don’t have any).

    Anyway the suit is going nowhere and serves only to make their son look like a giant pansy. I hope he *appreciates* his parents in a special way after this embarrassment.

  14. Gunnutmegger Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    “Matt, this was an accident….”

    That line, probably fed to him by his attorney, is why I cannot take the coach’s side. It wasn’t an accident. Overly enthusiastic or aggressive, maybe. He didn’t “attack” the kid but it was in no way an “accident”.

    The kid might be getting all legalese, but so is the coach.

  15. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Robin – Watch the video. The knock down was an accident. The nudge was probably because he sat there sulking, rather then getting out of the way. The coach actually says, “Move out of the way!” And pay close attention to the nudge. My 2-year old daughter kicks me harder. Matt needs to grow up.

    Metoo – And the coach was trying to help him – and the team – do that with the practice drill. Obviously, Matt learned nothing by it.

    Orchid – Exactly. Holy Family is five minutes from my house. My sister is an alum. Believe me, suing them isn’t like suing Penn State; HFU does not have deep pockets.

    Gunnutmegger – Maybe I’m seeing something different in the video, then. He grabs the ball, turns with it, and the kid goes down. If he was going to purposely knock the kid on his ass, he would have done a better job of it, in my opinion.

  16. Robin Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    BlackOrchid, What is your problem? It would have been great if the kid had done that but he didn’t. If you want to be around liars and cowards, that is your call. He probably didn’t know HOW to react. I wouldn’t have accepted his coach’s apology, either. It is evident the coach is simply trying to cover his ass. I don’t have any respect for him. I don’t want my kids to learn to lie and be insincere. I believe in honor and integrity and this coach has neither.
    BTW, I am a disabled, retired Army Major that spent 10 years as a paratrooper. I’ve seen a lot of bullies who knew that their subordinates wouldn’t strike back. How about thinking before you start mouthing off.

  17. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Robin – You know this man is a liar and a coward after 30 seconds of tape and a few comments? Wow, talk about breaking out the Jump to Conclusions Mat. Glad you’re not the parent of one of my players.

    O’Connor apologized but Kravchuk would have none of it. Doesn’t seem too honorable to me.

  18. Picky Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I never played basketball. Football was my main sport in high school. I don’t know if it’s because football involves a lot of impacts, but when our coach would demonstrate hits, he would throw us to the ground and knock us around, and we knew it was part of the coaching.

    We actually looked forward to the opportunity to hit him back and knock HIM down. He played rugby though, so we didn’t knock him down very often.

    Good times.

    After watching the video, the kid just comes off as whiny. That wasn’t a kick, that was a nudge with the foot. And the shoving was part of the drill. Kid, you may get paid, but you won’t get any respect.

  19. Robin Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I don’t have anything good to say about the player. My problem is with the coach apologizing if he didn’t mean it. That is lying and I have to disagree with it. I have a principle of doing the hard “right” instead of the “easy” wrong when I have the opportunity. That is the type of coach I want for my boys. Apologizing was the “easy” wrong. I can’t agree with that. Its kind of cowardly.

  20. Crusty Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    When O’Connor says this was an accident on National TV and jerks out a half-ass apology thinking the public is going to believe him. He is pissing on our heads and tellingl us it is raining This creep blind sided the player and started to yell get up as he kicked at him. If he didn’t want the guy on the team have the balls to tell to his face not his back

    This is Holy Family College, they play in the Little Sisters of the Poor League. There is no way O’Connor would be trying this in the NCAA. Holy Family would be picking 7mm rounds out of his butt hole , Dental Plan would be paying for a complete make-over and Major Medical would be paying to remove basketballs from his anal canal.

    He is a frustrated 10 th rated COLLEGE coach. The time bomb will really go off when he realizes it

  21. Crusty Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    “All the way” Major Robin you think O’Connor might just freeze in the door

  22. realwest Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Well I have to say – in the minority here – that I think the coach was wrong to kick the college kid. OTOH, I also think the kid acted like a much younger kid – what would have happened if that kid had hit the coach back? Or shoved him on his ass and then kicked him like that? He’d a been cut from the team likethat.Still and all the kid shoulda accepted the apology and moved on – instead I think he or more likely his parents are looking for some dough from HC and the coach and that’s the ONLY reason the kid is suing the coach. I hope the kid loses.

  23. realwest Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Ah crap. PIMF- HF, not HC.

  24. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Picky – Exactly. Things like this go on in every high school and college in America. Every day.

    Robin – He apologized immediately afterward – to Kravchuk and the team. He apologized again – on national TV. You say he didn’t mean it. Fine. I disagree, especially since I have no reason to doubt his sincerity – at least with the first apology.

    Crusty – Wow. Just wow. I got nuthin’ – because nothing I say would change your mind. But to repeat what I told Picky, if you don’t think things like this are going in, day in and day out, on most teams in America, you’re kidding yourself.

    Real – Again, wow. It must just be me, then. I’m just glad I’m now retired from coaching. If my players’ parents were like some of you, y’all would have me up on charges after the first day of practice.

  25. BlackOrchid Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Not to worry Wyatt, my guess is some googling has in fact gone on, you seem to be able to draw in the local friends and family of these little tiffs.

    Their lawsuit has already been tossed out, I believe. Now it’s just whining from his pals and whatnot. It is what it is. I choose rather to believe my “lying” eyes, thank you.

  26. Kim Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Hannah gets shoved worse than that by a goat walking by. (She also shoves back and doesn’t get knocked down very easily.)

    As for the whole “If it were my kid” deal, I don’t see a big deal. If I don’t trust the coach’s judgement, then I wouldn’t have my child playing to begin with. If I trust the coach and his judgement, then being knocked down and nudged with his foot I would assume is part of practice.

    If my child were to come home and say “Coach Earp (pardon me, Wyatt for using you) knocked me down and kicked me during practice” I would listen to what he had to say, go talk with the coach to find out what happened, and maybe sit in on the sidelines for a few practices to get a feel of how it goes. (Chances are, I would have already sat in on practices at the beginning of the season simply because I most likely would not have known the coach before that time.)

    If my kid were being a whiney butt, I would tell him to either suck it up and accept all parts of the game or finish the season and don’t play next season.

    If there were a legitimate concern, I would rip the coach for abusing his authority and he would either learn to restrain himself or deal directly with me.

    Filing a police report? Classless.

  27. Picky Says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Also, let’s remember the equation: College kid = Adult.
    This player isn’t a minor, and maybe colleges should put that in the waiver form,

    “This is a contact sport, and you MIGHT come into contact with people, including coaching staff and other players during the course of practices and games. If you can’t take a little contact, you are free to quit at any time.”

  28. bob (either orr) Says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Coaches have long banged players around. When I played JV basketball in high school, our varsity coach was a guy who came home after playing for four seasons in the NBA. Our JV coach was even bigger — 6-6, 275. I had the distinct “pleasure” of banging with them on many occasions. At 6 foot, 140 pounds, guess who lost most of those battles? What happened to that kid was nothing that didn’t happen hundreds of times a season back in the day.

  29. BlackOrchid Says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 11:10 am


    And the coach has now quit.

    Good job, whiny a-hole! I hope every kid in that school treats him like garbage until he quits school.

    By the way, my wise husband figured out his “game” – he probably wasn’t enjoying the whole “practice and playing and stuff” thing – hard work – but is there on a sports scholarship. Since my DH and his siblings all got sports scholarships, they can tell you – it’s often really hard work, some high pressure too if you get a full ride. This kid probably thinks he can whine his way into keeping his scholarship but not having to play b-ball anymore.

    Why didn’t I think of this? It makes total sense.

    Honestly, I don’t know how we got so lucky to get the people we do to coach. It’s a thankless job for the most part. It’s not getting better either, with a-hole parents getting a-holier by the day.

  30. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Orchid – As do I. I saw nothing there that warranted such media uproar.

    Kim – The immediate apology wasn’t enough for Kravchuk. He quickly went into lawsuit mode. Tells you a lot.

    Picky – I wonder what happens when he get hit in a game. Does he sue the opposing player?

    Bob – I used to get checked and occasionally slashed by my college lacrosse coach during drills all the time. It wasn’t my favorite part of practice, but he wanted us to practice like it was a game scenario. In my opinion, that policy helped me and the team as a whole.

    Orchid – I’m retired now – my school closed last year – but I never made much when I coached high school lacrosse. About $1,000 a year. Our season went from March 1st to the first week of May. At least five days a week, two hours a day.

    I didn’t do it for the money. I did it for the kids and for the sport. Were there a-holes on some of my teams? Sure. Were any of them as bad as this Kravchuk kid? Thankfully, no.

  31. Rick Says:
    February 25th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    The lawsuit is totally out of line.Suck it up and take it like a man.

  32. Wyatt Earp Says:
    February 26th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Rick – Kravchuk is not a man. He’s a very tall infant.