STANZ: Why are we trying to take the emotion out of college basketball?

AMES — Indulge me while I hop on my basketball high horse for a few minutes.

I like to see some emotion on the basketball court. I like it when I’m watching. I like it when I’m playing. I like to see basketball players acting like real humans and not sports playing robots built for our entertainment.

I was once made fun of for my entire freshman year because I celebrated a run our team went on during my first college game. I believe that emotion, celebration (to an extent), trash talk and genuine reaction to great plays, are all part of the game.

That is what has me so frustrated about Cameron Lard picking up technical fouls in consecutive games. When Lard was tapped (shout out to Brent Blum for the officiating lingo) with 14:49 left in Iowa State’s 70-52 win over Texas Tech on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum, I was hot.

Lard clapped his hands while looking in the direction of an opponent after scoring in the post. I could not understand why the Cyclones’ 6-foot-9 freshman was given a technical foul for the second game in a row.

Maybe there was more to it than that…

“Showing a little too much emotion,” Lard said when asked what explanation he was given for the technical.

It was basically the answer I was expecting and it did not really make me feel any better despite Lard scoring 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbing six boards in one of his best games of the season.

I do not want to see an emotional player like Lard lose his edge on the court because he is told to reign it in. Lard feeds off of emotion during games. He feeds off of the crowd, best exhibited by the multiple times he was waving his arms attempting to get them on their feet as he walked to the bench.

He is consistently the most hyped guy on the court whenever something positive happens for Iowa State, regardless of it being him who made the play or one of his teammates. It’s part of what makes him so much fun to watch.

What really confused me even further about all of this, and I honestly wish there had been a camera on my face when I heard this next quote, was what Steve Prohm said when asked about the technical.

“It’s probably my fault because he got the technical at TCU, I texted (Big 12 Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials) Curtis (Shaw), because I never really got an explanation outside of he yelled ‘and-one.’ That was the explanation I got,” Prohm said. “Then we got an email about they just don’t want the celebrations because really with the NBA being a little chippy right now, they want to get away from that. I had down to make sure I reemphasized that with the guys and that’s on me, I didn’t do that. I was more just Tech, Tech, Tech.”

Okay, hold up.

“Then we got an email about they just don’t want the celebrations because really with the NBA being a little chippy right now, they want to get away from that.”

How is what Cameron Lard did Wednesday night in Fort Worth and Saturday afternoon at Hilton Coliseum any different than what you will see from hundreds of college basketball players across the country on any given night? Will all of them be given technicals now, too?

I think I have seen one other game this entire season where a player was given a technical for something similar. I thought it was just as stupid then as I do now.

This was not Shawn Kemp humiliating Alton Lister by pointing at him after essentially attempting to commit murder in 1992. It was not Scottie Pippen stepping over Patrick Ewing in 1994. It definitely was not Shaquille O’Neal wrapping his legs around Chris Dudley like a boa constrictor in 2000.

This was a kid celebrating a play by stomping his foot and yelling, from what I could tell, at nobody in particular. It was him clapping his hands and looking in the general direction of players on the other team.

If we think these are the celebrations that need to be cleaned up and removed from the sport of basketball, then I’m sorry to say the sport of basketball has gotten soft.

Let the guys show emotion. Let them celebrate when they make a great play and finish through a foul. Let them clap their dang hands.

If it is not a blatant, egregious attempt to show somebody up, don’t blow the whistle and save the option to “tap” someone for a moment when it is really needed. It should be a last resort, not a way to take some of the fun out of a game played by college kids.

I’ll get off my high horse now. Now, back to the always-classy Steve Prohm. 

“We can’t keep living (in peaks and valleys) because I think that affects our team,” Prohm said. “Now, this (technical), I don’t know what he did. I don’t know. I asked for the referee. I said, ‘Hey, please come over. Tell the one who called it to please come over and just explain what he did,’ and I never got that. I’ll look at the tape, but it’s hard to tell. He did something because he got a technical.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.