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Chuck Landon: Burks is right — chippy play is really fun

March 30, 2019

“Chippy is fun.”

Now, there’s an opinion that seldom has been expressed.

Yet, not only did Marshall University star guard C.J. Burks not hesitate to talk about the concept of chippiness in a ballgame being enjoyable, he actually embraced the sentiment.

“It’s really fun when it’s chippy,” said the 6-foot-4 senior guard, referring to the obvious testiness during Marshall’s 83-66 win over Presbyterian on Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the CIT in Cam Henderson Center.

“Games like that are fun. Chippy is fun. It shows both teams are engaged.”

He’s right.

And good for Burks.

More often than not, chippiness has a negative connotation. But Burks stepped up and put chippy play in the proper, more realistic light.

It’s part of the game.

And, yes, it does make games more fun for players and spectators alike. I know the chippy play in the Marshall-Presbyterian game certainly got the crowd in the Cam fired up, and the fans responded vocally.

That is good for the game. It just makes it more exciting. Goodness knows, there was plenty of chippiness to go around.

Besides Burks feeling like he got fouled a couple of times on drives to the rim, point guard Jon Elmore got into a heated battle with Presbyterian guard Davon Bell, who was guarding Elmore man-to-man.

The much shorter Bell - 5-foot-10, 175 pounds - was guarding the 6-4, 185-pound Elmore very physically. And, yes, Elmore got tired of it. It culminated with Elmore getting in Bell’s face when the ball went out of bounds under the west basket.

Then, with 17:08 to play in the game, Marshall’s Jannson Williams was assessed a technical foul for appearing to exchange words with Presbyterian coach Dustin Kerns as Williams ran by the Blue Hose’s bench.

It got chippy indeed.

“Yeah, it did,” said Marshall coach Danny D’Antoni. “I don’t know what happened with Jannson. “I told him, ‘It doesn’t matter what they say. You can’t react. You’re not going to win that battle and we’re going to lose two points.’”

That is coachspeak.

But, then, D’Antoni took a breath and remembered back in the late 1960s when he was a feisty, undersized point guard for Marshall.

“You know, young men are young men,” said D’Antoni with a knowing smile. “I can’t say I didn’t do it in my day. The players got a little chippy. But that’s what makes this fun.

“If you don’t hurt when you lose and you don’t get excited when you win and you don’t get chippy during the competition, then, you know ... that’s what gets your blood flowing. I need every bit of it.”

Exactly right.

There’s nothing wrong with chippiness. It gets a bad rap, which is why it’s important for players such as Burks and coaches such as D’Antoni to put it in the proper perspective.

It’s called wanting to win.

So, maybe Marshall’s game against Hampton at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the CIT semifinals in the Henderson Center also will get a little ... shall we say, heated?

There is DNA involved, after all.

“Oh, by the way,” said D’Antoni, “that is the second win in the postseason. It goes back to 1967″ since any Marshall team had won two postseason games.

“I don’t know who was playing on that squad, but I heard they had a great point guard.”

Yeah, he was a little chippy guy.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.