ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — When push came to shove in the closing moments of a heated Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game between Rider and Siena, Saints coach Jimmy Patsos improvised as the opposing side ditched the handshake line at game's end.
The lighthearted response by Patsos, who pantomimed handshakes to imaginary players, was priceless.
— Marisa Jacques (@MJacquesTWCNews) January 18, 2017
"With five seconds left, I'm starting to walk toward the (scorer's) table, I look up and nobody's there. I didn't know what to do," Patsos said Wednesday during a radio interview on WTMM. "OK, I'll just shake hands with nobody."
The bad taste of a 10-point loss Tuesday night and the way it ended apparently was enough for Rider coach Kevin Baggett and his team.
A scuffle that erupted with just over two minutes left precipitated the handshake fiasco. Rider's Norville Carey was called for a foul on an alley-oop pass and Siena star Marquis Wright shoved Stevie Jordan to the court near the Siena bench. Rider's Anthony Durham then appeared to throw a punch at Wright, and Baggett ran the length of the court and screamed at Wright.
That prompted Patsos to join the fray in an effort to calm everybody.
"It just kind of happened quick. I thought it was defused quick," Patsos said. "I was trying to calm him (Bennett) down. It's not worth it. Let it go. I thought it was over."
Durham and Wright were given flagrant-2 fouls and ejected, and technical fouls were called on Siena's Khalil Richard, Jordan and both coaches.
In the final two minutes of the game, there was no pushing or shoving. Baggett called a timeout in the waning seconds, and after the final horn, Rider immediately left the floor at Times Union Center.
"There was no bad blood the last two minutes of that game," Patsos said. "Shake hands like you're supposed to, it's a sport, and you go on to the next game."
Bennett said he pulled the team to avoid another altercation, but on the way out of the arena, the Broncs also had words with some hometown fans. Patsos said he was unaware of that.
"It was a physical game from the start and they had lost two in a row. We've all been there," Patsos said. "They came out fired-up and they played well. It was an intense MAAC game. I think everybody should move on from it. It certainly can't happen again."
Siena wins 78-68. Rider walks off, no handhakes. Jimmy Patsos does the handshakes on his own, anyway. pic.twitter.com/iV4Ko2zmWo
— Michael Kelly (@ByMichaelKelly) January 18, 2017
MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor announced Wednesday that Durham and Wright have been suspended one game per NCAA rules and both players will be required to sign the league's sportsmanship statement. Baggett and Patsos will be reprimanded for unsportsmanlike behavior and also must sign the statement.
Patsos says when altercations like that occur he always thinks of former NBA player Kermit Washington, who is best remembered for punching Rudy Tomjanovich during an on-court fight in 1977. The blow shattered Tomjanovich's jaw and resulted in severe medical problems that sidelined him for months.
"We don't need this," Patsos said. "Nothing really happened, but it could have got ugly and I don't want ugly."
Follow John Kekis on Twitter @Greek1947