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Halil Kanacevic's gesture calls for reprimand

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St. Joe's (PA) junior forward goes from hero to goat in the Holy War's waning minutes.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The game was tied at 47 and the clock just dropped below the midway point in the second half when St. Joe's forward Halil Kanacevic hit a 3-pointer off of a Chris Wilson pass. The shot responded to Darrun Hilliard's game-equalizing three on the previous possession and prompted Jay Wright to call a timeout.

In celebration of his field-goal, Kanacevic raised his arms, flashed three fingers, and then flipped off the Villanova Student Section at The Pavilion.

The gesture set off the crowd and student section which was up to that point, sedate. A turning point ensued on the Main Line.

That three was the only field goal that Kanacevic. From there, Villanova outscored St. Joe's 17-11 en route to the Wildcats' victory in the Holy War and set Kanacevic up to be the goat as a series of poor plays followed.

The 6'8" New York native fouled James Bell far away from the Villanova basket, missed two critical free throws in a one-point game with 46 seconds to play, and turned the ball over after a poorly executed inbound play with three seconds to play.

Besides picking up the pieces from a rivalry loss on the road, Phil Martelli now has to deal with Kanacevic's unsportsmanlike action. The Hawk's coach noted, "On the road, we tell them to play to silence. It certainly wasn't a raucous atmosphere up to that point. I didn't think it made us play out of character, but we made some out-of-character plays."

Is a suspension by the team an appropriate punishment? For how many games? Should the Atlantic 10 step in as a conference?

A precedent in college basketball has been set; two years ago New Mexico State suspended Christian Kabongo for a similar action against UTEP. The action's inapproriateness also crosses international borders as the English Football Association suspended Liverpool forward Luiz Suarez for giving Fulham fans the middle finger last December.

But should a catholic institution instill greater values and expect more from its players?