Originally created 12/30/00

Tennessee, GW fight it out in pizza brawl



HONOLULU -- After slugging it out for 40 minutes on the court, Tennessee and George Washington carried their hostilities over to a postgame pizza party.

With the crowd long gone from the Stan Sheriff Center after the No. 6 Volunteers' 91-81 victory on Thursday night in the Rainbow Classic, the teams were supposed to enjoy a friendly pizza fest in a hospitality room near the GW locker room.

What ensued was a near free-for-all with a lot of pushing and shoving and yelling and screaming. No one was injured, but a cameraman had his equipment broken.

"The Tennessee players showed no class. No class," George Washington coach Tom Penders said after a Volunteers' player apparently spit at the Colonials' Patrick Ngongba during the melee.

The Colonials played an afternoon consolation round game Friday and Penders was not immediately available for further comment.

"I'd rather not speak for Tom Penders, but when I saw him (after the scuffle) and asked what was going on," Tennessee coach Jerry Green said Friday. "He pointed to one of our kids and said something like `You got a problem with him.'

"It wasn't to sit down for a meaningful conversation."

Green said the incident, which lasted about 10 minutes, apparently started when two of his players who had gone to pick up the food were jumped by the George Washington players.

"One of our players who has a broken leg (Del Baker) and another who did not play (Andy Ikeakor) went over to the hospitality side to get pizzas. That's what they were supposed to do after the game was over.

"What I understand is the two got surrounded by the other team's players and started challenging them and so on. They were trying to get out of there. It was two against 14 from other team.

"Then, when one our player (Terrence Woods) went back there and saw what was happening, he raced back to locker room and told everybody what was going on. So the rest of coaches and players who were showering went over there to see what was going on."

Green said arena security was present, but didn't know how the players were "jumped."

"(Tennessee host) Gary Dickman was there and said he saw whole thing," Green said. "He told me exactly our players told me.

"I think the other team must have been really upset that they lost. The coaches and players from George Washington have a tale to tell, but when I talked to Gary, he said he saw the whole thing. He's a mutual third party. He was one of the few who saw the whole thing."

Green criticized the lax security at the arena and the University of Hawaii's poor planning to have the hospitality area near the locker room.

"A bunch of security ran over there, but when I got there, our kids were kids pinned," Green said. "I saw only one or two security people and nobody seemed to be in charge of security.

"Luckily, nobody got hurt and we got back safely. We're trying to put this out of our heads and get to the business at hand."

The incident could have been sparked by the physical game.

George Washington was whistled for 37 fouls. The Volunteers capitalized by making 45 of 60 free throws. There were three technicals, two against GW.