Sagaba Konate: ‘Honestly, I Didn’t Do Anything’
BOSTON — There’s no doubt that West Virginia sophomore forward Sagaba Konate plays the game with emotion. Some might apply other adjectives to that, ranging from tempestuous to rowdy to overly-physical. After a couple of on-court incidents in the Mountaineers’ Sweet 16 loss to Villanova, however, the big man wanted to clear the air.
“Honestly I didn’t do anything, he said of the events leading up to a dual technical foul that took him out of the game at a critical juncture. “I always play physical. I always play emotional. It was just a game, It was physical, and I was ready to play.”
Konate, who can certainly irk opposing players and fans with his emotional responses after dunks and big blocks, maintains that his reactions are natural ones. Although he does admit to talking trash, which has escalated tensions in the past, he is steadfast in his belief of his style of play.
“People say I have a temper, I don’r have any temper. That’s the way I play. I do talk trash but that’s the way I play,” he reiterated.
That may cover much of the ground, but there are still a couple of lines that he approached, if not crossed. One was when he stood at the perimeter of Villanova’s huddle during a timeout, drawing a push in the chest from a Wildcat assistant coach.
“They guy pushed me. The assistant coach pushed me,” Konate said, while choosing not to explain why we approached the huddle in the first place. “So I just had his hands — it was no big deal. I didn’t say anything. I just watched.”
That may have been the case, but there’s no doubt that is something that shouldn’t be done. Konate may have been drawing off the experience of Jevon Carter, who approached Texas Tech’s huddle during the Big 12 Championship, but somehow the feel was different. That’s a narrow distinction to draw, and perhaps one based on Carter’s status as a elder statesman of the league, but there’s nothing good that can come of such actions. In fact, they can have negative repercussions, as they can fire up the opposing team. The same might be said of some of the on court actions, but again, that’s a tough line to draw.
In any event, what WVU can’t afford is technical fouls, which also count as personals. Konate got one as part of a double technical call with 6:20 to go in the game, and it had a big effect on West Virginia’s attempt to rally. After an offensive rebound and a put back dunk, on which he was hit in the face, across the shoulders and on the arms (none called), Konate ran back upcourt alongside Omari Spellman. The two exchanged some words, and the double T came. That didn’t hurt Villanova, as it was only Spellman’s second personal, but it was Konate’s fourth, which sent him to the bench for two critical minutes. With Daxter Miles also stuck on the bench with four fouls, that effectively ended West Virginia’s hopes.
“The ref didn’t tell me anything about the technical. He just said ‘Get off the court'”, Konate said.
It may be true that Konate didn’t do much, in his view, to spark any problems. And it may be just as true that he’s still learning that sometimes, celebrations and reactions can have negative effects. That’s a nuance that can take some time to appreciate, but there was also at least one sign that he is learning the ins-and-outs of those situations. In the second half, he made it a point to hand the ball back to officials, even when a call went against him.
“I decided to do that,” he confirmed. “The coaches told me not to argue with the ref because they have the power in the game. That’s true. You argue with the ref, they are going to be watching you and you aren’t going to get 50-50 calls.”