When it rains, it pours for the Utah basketball team.
A day after being upset at home by Wyoming, the Utes learned that backup guard Luka Drca would be suspended for Saturday night's game at Colorado State because of an elbow thrown in last Saturday's win over TCU.
According to a release by the Mountain West Conference, Drca was suspended for one game under section 4.4.1 of the MWC Sportsmanship Policy. The MWC said Drca "struck an opposing player with an elbow at the 11:05 mark of the first half, which fell under the definition of physical abuse and violated Rule 4.2.a of the MWC Sportsmanship Policy."
Utah coach Jim Boylen accepted the suspension, saying, "It is the rule, and obviously we'll abide by the rules. One of the life lessons I try to tell my team is you're accountable for your actions. He did elbow the guy. We're going to take the suspension and move on."
Boylen said he was aware of Drca's elbow to the midsection of TCU's Brent Hackett (for which no foul was called) and said he reprimanded Drca in front of the team after the game. While he had no issue with the suspension, he did question the timing.
"I am disappointed in the timing," Boylen said. "I didn't know about it until Tuesday at 3 o'clock. I would have preferred to have known on Saturday night or Sunday, so we could practice accordingly."
Boylen said the Utes appealed the ruling because of the timing, which is why it wasn't announced until Thursday. The complaint for the incident apparently came from a TV station rather than from TCU.
The MWC would not address questions about the suspension, but MWC associate commissioner Javan Hedlund said the sportsmanship policy has been made tougher over the past couple of years.
Ute fans recall two instances when BYU players only received reprimands, despite getting technical fouls for physical abuse in games against Utah in 2004 and 2005.
In February of 2005, BYU center Chris Miles was given a public reprimand by the MWC after intentionally kicking Utah's Andrew Bogut during a skirmish when both players were on the floor.
In March of 2004, BYU center Rafael Araujo threw an elbow that missed Bogut after throwing an elbow earlier in the game that grazed Tim Drisdom. Araujo received a technical foul for the second one, but he was not suspended, despite receiving a reprimand the week before for an incident against UNLV.
Last year, four MWC players were suspended after a brawl in the Wyoming-New Mexico game.
Wyoming's Brandon Ewing and Brad Jones and New Mexico's Jamaal Smith and Darren Prentice were suspended by the league and Wyoming's Joseph Taylor was suspended by his team. Ewing and Smith each had to sit out two games.Boylen said the Utes would compensate for Drca's loss "by committee" and that senior Chris Grant would likely see more action in place of Drca.