Incident still stings

EUGENE - The Pit Crew started booing and never stopped. Well, they did stop at the end of Oregon's 93-85 win over Washington Saturday night to give Ryan Appleby one last name – ‘Applebitch' – as UW guard Ryan Appleby left the court. One wonders how the Oregon fans would have responded if Appleby had simply shook Aaron Brooks' hand at tipoff.

Chance are, it wouldn't have done much to dampen the fans' enthusiastic response to seeing Appleby – the recipient of a Brooks' elbow to the face during the 2006 Pac-10 Tournament last spring – in his first and only appearance at McArthur Court this year.

"This was a really good basketball game, you had fireworks all over the place," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent said after the game. "There was three-pointers, great defense, and the crowd was on fire. This team is playing with a tremendous amount of energy the last few games and this building has a lot to do with that. There's no place like this in the country."

But is that a good thing? The taunts, coupled with a cheat sheet handed out to Pit Crew members before the game that had Appleby's girfriend's name on it, and new UO Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny's decision to turn his back during the introduction of Washington State's starting lineup this past Thursday, prompts the question as to where is the line drawn for rivalries, especially heated ones that already have enough vitriol on their own to burn down small towns.

"It was an emotional game for both (Appleby and Brooks)," UW sophomore forward Jon Brockman said. "I don't think the crowd had any right saying some of the things they said, and I think Aaron would agree. He's not that type of person."

Brooks wouldn't really address the whole situation, other than to simply answer why he thought Appleby didn't want to shake his hand at half-court. "If he didn't want to shake my hand, it's on him," Brooks said.

"It was just a gut reaction not to shake his hand," Appleby said. "Last year he took a cheap shot on me, I don't feel that he was penalized the right way and I'm not going to acknowledge someone like that."

"It didn't surprise me," added UW frosh center Spencer Hawes. "Good for him, as far as I'm concerned."

The Pit Crew pulled out all the stops ‘A-Rod' style – meaning every time he touched the ball, every time he would come in and out of the game – basically whenever he did anything – they were on him with a cascade of boos that filled the venerable McArthur Court to the rafters.

And Brooks hit a three to start the game and the place exploded.

Brooks 1, Appleby 0. But it would have been wrong to sell the Husky guard short on this occasion. All he did was respond to the tune of 17 first-half points, including five long-range bombs. His play earned him some serious respect on the purple and gold side of the ledger.

"I think it got him going," freshman Phil Nelson said. "I think App got his point across," added Brockman. "He was unconscious. For him to respond like that…"

"I always say that if you're upset with something to let your game do the talking, and I really think that's what Ryan did tonight," UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar added. He also included the thought that he hoped all of the hype surrounding the incident in the Pac-10 tournament could be ‘put to bed'.

It's doubtful the Pit Crew's response will allow Appleby to forget about it any time soon. Now we all get to wonder what it's going to be like if Oregon and Washington meet in the Pac-10 Tournament again, just like last year.

I think it's safe to say that the Huskies won't forget it any time soon.

Especially Appleby. Top Stories