North Texas head coach Tony Benford on Monday disputed the way Arkansas State head coach John Brady characterized a confrontation between the two and game officials during the Red Wolves’ 75-66 overtime win over the Mean Green on Saturday.
The game was tied at 59-59 early in overtime when ASU guard Cameron Golden drove to the basket and drew a foul from Roger Franklin before Tony Mitchell blocked Golden’s shot.
After a short discussion near ASU’s bench, officials counted the basket on a goal-tending call.
Each coach discussed the call with the officials, who called technical fouls on both.
Brady dedicated a large portion of his postgame news conference following the game at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark., to discussing the play and what transpired afterward. Brady said he believed Benford acted inappropriately and cursed at him, which Benford adamantly denied.
“What he said is false,” Benford said. “I never cursed him. I have been doing this for 22 years and always act professionally.
“A lot of things happen in the heat of battle. He is fighting for his guys, and I am fighting for my guys. I have never disrespected one official since I have been here, and I never will.”
Benford said he saw Brady talking to the officials following the play, but did not leave UNT’s bench area until officials signaled to him to do so.
“I saw [Brady] pointing at the official’s face and yelling at him,” Benford said. “He was talking to two officials and a third came in and counted the basket. I was trying to wave them down to me to talk. He [Brady] turned to me and started running at me.”
Benford said he returned to UNT’s bench when directed to do so by officials.
“I didn’t understand why I received a technical because I was never unsportsmanlike,” Benford said. “I never cursed.”
Brady offered a different version of the events that took place on the opposite side of the court from press row.
“I’m certainly not going to let someone in our building curse at me, which he did, and anybody sitting at the scorer’s table will verify that,” Brady said. “I wasn’t going to get in any kind of confrontation with him, but I certainly was going to let him know that was inappropriate.”
Benford said that he has not heard from the Sun Belt Conference office about the incident and does not expect league officials to issue any punishment over the confrontation.
UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said he is aware of what transpired in the game.
“The situation [Saturday] night will be addressed in the proper manner, but I won’t be addressing Tony Benford,” Villarreal said. “He didn’t do anything wrong. His job is to protect his team and he did that in a proper fashion.”
The play turned out to be the key point in the game.
Golden hit the free throw to convert the three-point play, the opening points in a 10-1 run for ASU, which pulled away and handed UNT its fourth straight loss.
Benford wished Brady and ASU luck the rest of the season but was firm in his belief that he did not merit receiving a technical foul. He also took issue with the way Brady characterized the conflict.
“I have always acted in a professional manner,” Benford said. “I am going to fight for my team. Things happen in the heat of battle. No one has ever questioned my integrity and the way I have operated.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .