Louisville head coach Rick Pitino had some interesting words for Miami and head coach Jim Larranaga for their handling of Hurricane center Tonye Jekiri’s alleged head injury.
During the first half of Louisville’s two-point ACC home win over the Hurricanes on Saturday, Cardinals junior forward Montrezl Harrell threw the ball off of Jekiri’s face while the Miami big man was out of bounds to regain possession. The ball hit the Miami big man in the face at a good velocity and Jekiri didn’t start the second half as the broadcast crew calling the game on television mentioned how he wasn’t on the bench for the Hurricanes.
So what was the situation with Jekiri and his health status?
According to Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal, Pitino questioned to reporters after the game how Jekiri could be healthy and back in the second half so quickly after allegedly hearing Larranaga say to officials that the center had concussion concerns. Here’s Pitino’s take on the exchange regarding the injury incident:
“Here’s the ironic thing: Coach Larranaga walked over to the officials, all the way over to the other side. I’ve never seen that. I wanted to know what (Larranaga said). The official says, ‘Well, he wanted to let me know that the big guy has a concussion on that play.’ I said, ‘What motive do you need to know that? He’s back in the game.’
“So I called (Louisville football coach) Bobby Petrino — this is no joke — I said, ‘Get a hold of that Miami doctor because, in 15 minutes, a kid went from a concussion to playing and totally healthy.’ We’re sending a plane down to hire that doctor for football. We will never have a concussion ever again. He was back 3-4 minutes later. He walked all the way over there to tell him he had a concussion, then he was back in the game.”
The play did change the course of the game for Harrell, who had a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Most of that damage came after the controversial play involving Jekiri. The Louisville junior was given a technical foul upon review of the play — Pitino said he was okay with the tech call, per Greer’s story — and Harrell called it a “basketball play” after the game.
It’s really hard to say if Miami and Larranaga went through the proper concussion protocols regarding Jekiri because we haven’t heard the coach’s potential response to Pitino or know the details of how the trainers handled Jekiri. Hopefully Jekiri wasn’t concussed and can continue playing the rest of the season with no further incident. The Pitino comments do make you think about the handling of concussion symptoms, however.
By coming back in the second half and winning, Louisville (21-6, 9-5) staying tied for fourth place in the ACC with North Carolina while Miami dropped to 7-7 in league play and 17-10 overall.