Give Monte Ross credit. Also, a sympathy card wouldn’t be a bad idea, because everything the University of Delaware basketball coach has built the last couple of years is about to come falling down around him.
Earlier this week, Ross kicked his best player off the team. Guard Jarvis Threatt, the most valuable player in last season’s Colonial Athletic Association tournament – the only CAA tourney the Blue Hens have ever won – was dismissed for unspecified team violations. Whether those violations were so severe that Threatt had to be dismissed or whether it’s because this is simply Threatt’s third strike – and we all know what that means – also isn’t known.
What is known is that Ross’ attempts to put together a consistent contender just took a shot to the gut. It was going to be hard enough to repeat as CAA champs because the Hens had already lost their other top three scorers to graduation – Davon Usher, Devon Saddler and Carl Baptiste. And now this.
But as we said earlier, give Ross and athletic director Eric Ziady credit for putting school ahead of sports and for being willing to get rid of their best player on principle, something that too is sadly lacking in big-time college athletics. Granted, Delaware isn’t Duke when it comes to basketball, but it’s still a Division I team and Ross is still judged by wins and losses, just like any coach.
It’s also sad that Threatt has lost his chance to play his senior season and finish his college career in style, although, of course, it’s hard to feel sorry for him. It’s even sadder that Threatt has thrown away something much more valuable, a free college education. He’s a good player, but he’s not going to play in the NBA. Now, well, who knows?
And Threatt didn’t just hurt himself by his immature actions. He’s also let down his teammates, who were expecting him to be their leader next season. That leaves the Hens with just two upper-class scholarship players on their roster, Marvin King-Davis and Kyle Anderson.
Fortunately, Ross recruited a point guard, although he didn’t expect to have to throw Korey Holden into the fire right away. Holden obviously has talent, but he played at J.M. Bennett High in Salisbury, Md., and nothing against the school or the conference it plays in, but we’re not talking about a kid who played against top-flight competition throughout his high school career. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a great player, but it could take time for Holden to adjust to the high-paced play of the CAA.
No matter where he played or against whom he played, it’s hard for a freshman to step in and be leader on and off the court, and that’s why Threatt’s loss is such a big one. He wasn’t just an upper classman with lots of experience, he was also the point guard, the quarterback, the guy who has the ball in his hands most of the time and runs the offense.
Threatt’s dismissal also means the Blue Hens will probably take a big step back this season. It was going to be tough enough to repeat as CAA champs, but now it’s practically impossible. So, Delaware fans who were hoping that their team had finally turned a corner to become a consistent contender for the NCAA Tournament have to deal with reality and accept the fact the Hens’ time at the top will be a short one.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.