Once upon a time in a season far, far away, there was a basketball team at South Florida that was 7-0.
The Bulls were a team that seemed to be on a mission to prove everyone wrong who had doubted them in the past. And there were skeptics everywhere.
B.B. Waldon was lazy and always in foul trouble. Reggie Kohn was too slow to check most point guards. They had no legitimate big man. They never seemed to finish off good teams in big games. Seth’s off-court management of his players left something to be desired.
But after seven games, it seemed this Bulls team had turned the corner. They seemed poised to silence their critics and prepared to field questions regarding whom they would be playing in the NCAA Tournament, rather than why they wouldn’t be dancing – again.
Waldon was hustling his butt off, playing sound defense and avoiding foul trouble. Whatever Kohn was unable to do physically on defense, he was making up for with pinpoint passes and three pointers that seemed to be launched from the USF Soccer Stadium. They didn’t have a legitimate big man – they had two and one more waiting in the wings. They finished off Pitt on the road and streaked past Cal at home. And Greenberg seemed to be keeping his players in line.
Well, maybe not everything had changed.
The Bulls are on pace to break the NCAA record for suspensions in a season. No, I don’t exactly know what the record for that is, but I can’t imagine USF being far off. The latest casualties, Terrence Leather and Brandon Brigman, served one-game suspensions during the Charlotte loss.
There have been countless others.
Greenberg sat Greg Brittian and Kelvin Brown, then it was Waldon – and the season hadn’t even started yet. Brown, Jackson and Waldon all served suspensions, varying in length from entire games to first halves, once the season started. Leather and Brigman followed and then came Brown, who has been suspended indefinitely.
This is the third suspension for Brown, who has been in Greenberg’s doghouse since he first took the court for the Bulls. With the exception of Jackson, who Greenberg sat because the senior guard had a “terrible attitude,” the rest have been reprimanded for “failing to meet team academic standards.”Translation: They weren’t going to class or study hall.
So with all these suspensions, the question must be asked – is there a discipline problem on this team? If not, what is going on?
It’s not as if Greenberg wants to punish his players and risk heading into games short-handed. Waldon was forced to play 40 minutes in the Charlotte loss. You know who his replacements should have been? The three guys who didn’t even dress – Brown, Leather and Brigman.
Sometimes I think there might be some sort of problem in the chain of command – Brown missed court time during the preseason for failing to take the beads out of his hair before entering a game. Didn’t anyone notice the beads in his hair during warm-ups or pregame? And why aren’t the guys who have been around the program for a few years keeping these guys in line? But ultimately, I have to place the blame squarely on the individuals not abiding by the rules laid down by Greenberg. Not every player gets along with his coach and vice versa, but the bottom line is there are rules that need to be followed in order to be granted the privilege – and it is a privilege because there are only 12 available spots at each school – of playing basketball at a Division I university.
When’s the last time you heard of a player at Duke getting suspended for cutting class? Is Mike Krzyzewski just a lucky guy who ends up with players who not only excel at basketball but attend class? No, those players realize just how fortunate they are to be able to play basketball at a D-I university, and they would not tarnish the reputation of their school by doing something as stupid as not going to class. Obviously, it’s more prestigious to play basketball for the Blue Devils than the Bulls, but USF isn’t exactly a third-rate D-III school either, so what gives?
While Greenberg is busy sorting out all the suspensions, he has handed out, there is a clear precedent being set: You don’t do what the rules say, you will pay. You will pay in court time, but more importantly, your team will pay by your absence. Greenberg has not wavered and it does not appear he will. He has sat down his star players as well as his bench warmers. So when will it finally sink in?
Doesn’t 7-0 seem like seven years ago?
- Contact Brandon Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org