Legal action could follow after Rizvic takes elbow
Texas Tech center Esmir Rizvic had surgery to repair broken bones in his face, spelling a likely end to his season. The prospect of him playing again for the Red Raiders is uncertain.
ESPN's Holly Rowe reported Monday night that surgery was performed late Monday. ESPN was told the surgery was successful and he was resting comfortable in a Lubbock hospital.
There has been talk of legal issues stemming from Longar Longar's elbow connecting to Rizvic's face during Texas Tech's win over Oklahoma on Saturday in Lubbock.
But Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel was quick to point out to ESPN.com on Sunday night that Longar had no malicious intent, nor does he have any history of flagrant fouls and that the school regrets Rizvic's injuries.
"We are distressed and feel badly that Esmir Rizvic was injured during Saturday's game in Lubbock," Capel said in statement Monday. "We wish him a swift recovery and hope he will return to playing basketball soon."
Texas Tech associate head coach Pat Knight told ESPN.com from Manhattan, Kan., where the Red Raiders played Kansas State on Monday night, that Rizvic, a 7-foot junior, suffered three broken bones around his eye. The coach said doctors explained to him that Rizvic would need a screw and a plate inserted on the right side of his face.
"He might not play again," Knight said. "We sent the tapes in [to the Big 12] and there are lawyers involved and everything. It was brutal."
Knight said Rizvic was knocked cold but then was able to stand under his own power and leave the court. He said his father, Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight, visited Rizvic in the hospital Sunday and that "his face was swollen and his eye looked swollen shut."
Knight said following Saturday's game, "I'm not sure that [Longar] should be able to play anymore. Swinging your arms like that with elbows out at the height of some kid's head. That's not good."
Capel, who is in his first year as Sooners coach, said Longar's elbow was inadvertent.
"Longar has no history of fouls of this nature and there is nothing in his background or character to suggest he has anything but respect for the game and his opponents," Capel said. "We will work with Big 12 Conference staff members to review this matter."
Capel said Longar popped out to the corner closest to the bench, caught the ball off an inbounds play and his job was to reverse the ball to the top of the circle. But in getting the ball, Longar swung with one motion and made contact with Rizvic's face.
"It was a hard hit, there's no denying that," Capel said. "I not only saw it, but I heard it. But it wasn't anything like where Longar went out of his way to hit the guy. It was nothing like that. It was an unfortunate incident that happens in the game of basketball."
Capel said he watched the game on tape Sunday and looked specifically at the play and "I don't think it was anything malicious. We're sorry it happened and that he ended up with a serious injury that required surgery I feel bad for him and wish him a successful recovery."
The 6-11 junior, who is the Sooners' leading scorer at 11.4 points and rebounder at 7.4 boards a game, was cited for an intentional foul.
"He's never done that, and what I know about him as a basketball player and as a young man, any label of him being a dirty player isn't warranted," Capel said.
A call to the Big 12's basketball representative John Underwood wasn't returned Sunday night so there is no way of knowing if the league office plans on any disciplinary action. Oklahoma has no plans to sit Longar for Wednesday's game against Colorado. But Capel will adhere to anything that comes from the league office.
"With our athletics director, Joe Castiglione, I have reviewed this matter in detail. We have watched video tape and discussed the play with Longar. Based on our review, we do not discern anything that indicates any intent by Longar," Capel said. "It was an unfortunate accident involving inadvertent contact as Longar was attempting to reverse the basketball. We support Longar and we don't believe that any disciplinary action against him is warranted.
"I'm sure the tape was sent in and they'll review it and we'll listen to any comments the Big 12 office has on this," Capel said. "But there was no malicious intent. It was inadvertent and it was very unfortunate. We feel bad for the kid and hope he's well."
The Red Raiders may look to go smaller without Rizvic, who was a role player for the Red Raiders but did play in all 16 games so far this season.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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