Kevin Floyd figured Thursday's practice was going to be "pretty harsh," but he never dreamed he would end up suspended for two games before it was over.
Bill Mulligan, UC Irvine basketball coach, had been stressing defense for a month in practice before Wednesday night's exhibition against club Malbas. Floyd sat in front of locker, shaking his head with dread, after the second-division Swedish club team had just scored 92 points.
"Coach is gonna be madder than . . . mud," he said, pausing to come up with a printable word. "Our defensive intensity was horrible."
The Anteaters took a cue from their coach's post-game tirade and a hockey game broke out during Thursday's practice.
Starting center Wayne Englestad caught an elbow and suffered a cut under his eye that required eight stitches to close. Walk-on Tyrone Howard was sent crashing to the floor and injured his hip. Then Floyd and Mike Doktorcyzk started throwing elbows. Doktorcyzk went down with a gash above his mouth and Mulligan had seen enough.
Believing Floyd had been the aggressor, Mulligan yanked the 6-inch 5-inch junior guard off the floor and suspended him for both games of the Freedom Bowl tournament, which begins Friday at the Bren Center.
"The thing with Kevin started four weeks ago when he was pouting during practice and I threw him out," Mulligan said. "Then this happened and I thought he started it. So I suspended him."
Floyd, who transferred to Irvine after playing his freshman season at Georgetown, is still practicing with the team, though, and seems to be handling the situation fairly well.
"He's the boss and if he tells me to jump off a bridge from now and until next year, that's what I'll do," Floyd said.
"We played lousy defense and practice the next day was really intense. Basketball is a physical sport and when everyone is riled up altercations happen. I don't have any comment beyond that."
Mulligan admits that he may have over-reacted.
"Yeah, maybe I did," he said Monday. "Everybody was going after everybody all day, trying to make me happy. I just think Kevin overstepped his bounds a bit. But once you do something like that (suspend a player), you can't back off. I don't really want to do it, but . . . "
The Freedom Bowl field includes Manhattan College, Air Force and Army. The Anteaters figure to have a chance to win the tournament, a chance that would have been much better with Floyd, who Mulligan says is the best athlete and one of the team's best defenders. Floyd averaged eight points a game last season.
"I probably hurt myself more than Kevin," Mulligan said. "This is a tournament we could win if we played our cards right . . . and if the coach was a little smarter and didn't suspend his best player."
Greg Wilson, a senior from El Toro High School who scored a team-high 45 goals this season for the water polo team, has been named co-player of the year in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. He shares the honor with Pepperdine's Sasa Poljak.
Irvine Coach Ted Newland was named coach of the year for second straight year. In his 22nd season at Irvine, Newland has an overall record of 443-145-5 and led the Anteaters to national championships in 1970 and '82.
Irvine, the fifth-seeded team in this weekend's NCAA championships at Long Beach's Belmont Plaza, also had five other players honored. Senior holeman Mike Doting and goalie Mark Maizel joined Wilson as first-team All-PCAA selections. Juniors Tony Bell, Julian Harvey and Chris Duplanty were second-team picks.