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The Collins Take Down: Now What?

This cannot go unpunished.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Clemson
Feb 10, 2022; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) steals the ball away from Clemson Tigers guard David Collins (13) during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

With at least a bit of remove, what to make of the David Collins/Wendell Moore collision Thursday night?

For anyone who hasn’t heard, take a look at the video in David Thompson’s story on the incident.

Moore took the ball from Collins and headed downcourt. Collins pursued him and caught up as Moore went up to dunk. He ran under Moore and, as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “[h]e was parallel to the ground eight feet up in the air. That was one of the most dangerous plays I’ve ever seen, and I’m not knocking Collins, but I’ve never seen a player look like that before.”

It was terrifying. It brought to mind David Thompson’s famous episode where he tried to clear Pitt’s Billy Knight to block a shot on a break. The difference is that Thompson ran up behind Knight and apparently thought he could just jump right over the 6-6 Knight. Amazingly, he almost did, but he came up short and landed on his head.

So it seems to us there are two questions. The first is: was it an intentionally dirty play? For our part, we don’t think it was, for a few reasons.

First, Collins went on Instagram after the game and said that he was simply going too fast to stop. Second, he was running flat out. Third, he didn’t use his hands and fourth, he tried as best he could to avoid contact.

In this situation, we think it’s reasonable to take him at his word.

Which leads us to the second question: what punishment, if any, is appropriate?

We accept that it wasn’t intentional - as supporting evidence, we submit Coach K’s courtside absolution. We have no indication that Collins is a dirty player. From all accounts we’re aware of he’s a decent guy.

But it was incredibly reckless and could have cost Moore the rest of the season. It could have seriously injured him or paralyzed him. It could even have, in a nightmare scenario, cost him his life.

In short, it’s too serious to let go with an apology and an ejection. It calls for a suspension even if only to underscore that such a dangerous thing will not go unpunished in the Atlantic Coast Conference.