Wake Forest's Paul suspended for low blow
By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer
March 7, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Wake Forest star Chris Paul was suspended by the school for one game Monday for hitting North Carolina State's Julius Hodge in the groin during a game.
Paul, a sophomore point guard, will miss Friday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinal, the school said Monday. The Demon Deacons, seeded second, will play the winner of Thursday's Florida State-N.C. State game.
Paul will be allowed to practice Tuesday and could return to the lineup Saturday if Wake Forest advances to the tournament semifinals.
Athletic director Ron Wellman said the school consulted ACC commissioner John Swofford before announcing the suspension.
Paul apologized to Hodge, N.C. State, his teammates and Wake Forest's fans.
``Sunday night was emotional for me for many reasons and I let my emotions get the best of me,'' Paul said. ``However, that is no excuse for my actions and I fully accept and agree with my suspension.''
Paul, the leading vote-getter on The Associated Press preseason all-America team, is averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 assists. He has been one of the stars of the No. 3 Demon Deacons (26-4, 13-3 ACC), who have tied the school's single-season record for overall and conference victories.
Hodge was not expected to comment Monday on Paul's suspension, N.C. State spokeswoman Annabelle Vaughan said
Paul's low blow with 12:48 left in the first half set the tone for the game in Raleigh, which ended when he hit a runner at the buzzer for a 55-53 win.
On the replay, Paul was behind Hodge as the lanky senior was battling for position to rebound a missed 3-pointer by Ilian Evtimov. After Cedric Simmons got the rebound, Paul reached around from Hodge's right side and hit him in the groin. Hodge, the reigning ACC player of the year, crumpled to the court.
With Hodge laying on the ground, his older brother, Steve, walked onto the court to see if Julius was OK -- and to yell toward Wake Forest bench and the referees. After he left the court, Steve Hodge was escorted from the area.
Once Julius Hodge got up, he yelled and gestured toward Paul and the Demon Deacons' sideline on his way to the bench.
After the game, Paul said the two simply became entangled.
``I don't believe I popped him,'' Paul said. ``It was just the heat of the game. I've got too much respect for him to try to pop him on senior night.''
When told that replays showed him hitting Hodge, Paul responded, ``I haven't seen the replay.''