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How to deal with spiteful Twitter critics, including those who went after Alex Oriakhi

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It has become an ugly reality for college and professional athletes in the new, wired world of sports.

With every move, whether it be a commitment, a transfer, or an in-game blunder, there is inevitably a contingent of critics on the Twitterverse who will chime in with language that is certainly not fit for print.

The latest situation came as former Connecticut forward Alex Oriakhi, granted a release to transfer from UConn to play right away at the school of his choice, announced that he would be headed to Missouri.

As Michael Rogner shows on Run The Floor (beware of the unfortunate language some Twitter users employed, if you follow the link), it got ugly.

In some of the more tame language, users gave their opinions that Oriakhi had “zero skills,” calling him a “scum bag,” and “traitor.”

I’m not here to lament the degeneration of the 21st century fan. I’m not going to create some sort of outrage. Is it unfortunate? Of course. Is it worth manufacturing a controversy? No.

This is no different than the loudest heckler at a game, the one who won’t sit down, despite repeated warnings from arena security.

That fan has now adapted with technology.

I’ll be the first to defend the right of one to speak an opinion, whether that opinion is a popular one or not. That is the purpose of the “public square.”

Because these Twitter critics come out with every athlete’s decision and are such a small minority of Twitter users, the rest can push them to the fringe, roll their eyes, and say, “here they come again.”

So next time a major college athlete announces his transfer and is showered with tweets of displeasure, to put it nicely, start taking some screenshots, cement that speech in history, and combat it the old-fashioned way:

Pull back the veil of anonymity and allow those critics to make their case in the public square.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEO: Monmouth hits a game-winner, Bench Mob member tries to disrobe

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AP
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Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.

The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.