It’s certainly not unusual for crazy things to go down in Amsterdam — the city certainly has a reputation for partying — but it’s safe to say no one could have predicted what happened to Missouri’s basketball team there Saturday.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
The Tigers, who are on a five-game European tour, forfeited their exhibition against the Dutch National Team's under-24 squad because coach Frank Haith said he feared for his players’ safety.
Haith’s decision to pull his players off the floor came in the third quarter after his team had built a 25-point lead. Haith had just been ejected for arguing a no-call after Tigers freshman forward Stefan Jankovic apparently took an elbow to the head. Haith decided to act, though it sounds like he regrets pulling them off the floor.
“In my mind I was just fearful for the safety of our players, but in retrospect I wish I had let our team play it out and learn from the adversity,” Haith said in a statement released after the game. “I take complete responsibility. This is a learning experience for us all.”
Junior forward Earnest Ross said in a statement that he understood Haith’s decision.
“We are competitors, we want to play, but when we saw the look in Coach Haith’s eyes we knew he had our backs,” Ross said. “We are a family and it feels great knowing your head coach will step out there for you like this.”
Dutch national team manager Matthijs Groot — who organized the event — called Haith’s ejection “strange” and seemed to agree with Haith’s decision.
“It (the ejection) came so suddenly came out of the blue,” Groot said in a statement. “There were inconsistent calls on both sides including a technical foul on the Dutch, so our staff could understand that the game was stopped. It was just a pity it got to that point.”
Missouri, which returns home Aug. 18, plays game three of its trip Monday in Belgium against Waragem.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.