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John Blanchette: Zags’ Karnowski only concerned about getting the ‘W’

SAN DIEGO – The Gonzaga Bulldogs got another NCAA Basketball Tournament victory on Friday – and an apology.

CBS/Turner broadcaster Andrew Catalon sought out Przemek Karnowski in the Gonzaga locker room after the 85-77 win over Oklahoma State to express his regrets for calling the Zags’ center a “Polack” during a second-half exchange on the TNT telecast with color man Mike Gminski.

The remark sparked considerable backlash on Twitter and Internet sites, and some consternation on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. But a CBS spokesman said Catalon, who is calling his first NCAA tournament, would continue to work his weekend assignments.

And Karnowski was in a forgiving mood.

“Mr. _@AndrewCatalon has just apologized in my person and I really appreciate it!” Karnowski posted on his Twitter account. “But the most important thing right now is we have this W!”

The sophomore from Toruñ, Poland, had been fouled away from the ball by OSU’s Brian Williams with 2:47 to play as the Cowboys tried to mount a comeback. Karnowski is the team’s poorest free throw shooter, making just 51 percent for the season, and Catalon tried to make a play on the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy NBA teams used to employ against Shaquille O’Neal.

The on-air exchange:

Catalon: “A whistle at the other end …”

Gminski: “Well, they’re just going to …”

Catalon: “Just foul Karnowski.”

Gminski: “Just kind of wrapped him up.”

Catalon: “Hack-a-Polack.”

Gminski: “Easy, now.”

Catalon: “Oh, sorry, Mike.”

Catalon later apologized twice on the air, and also on Twitter. Karnowski was asked in the post-game interview room if he was offended by the remark.

“Not really,” he said. “Some people told me it was offensive. I hadn’t heard of that before I got here.”

Added Gonzaga coach Mark Few, “It was just a mistake and I don’t think we need to crucify him for it. Everybody makes mistakes and (Karnowski) wasn’t offended by it. The guy is a heck of an announcer and he has a bright future ahead of him. We’ve all made mistakes, everybody in this room, and we need to let it go and move on.”


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