After winning just two games in Patriot League play last season the Navy Midshipmen had hopes of improving their standing within the league despite being picked to finish last in the preseason poll. That process became a lot tougher on Tuesday, as the Naval Academy made the decision to suspend leading scorer Tilman Dunbar for the remainder of the season according to Bill Wagner of the Annapolis (Md.) Capital-Gazette.
Tilman, along with sophomore guard Phil Guglielmo, was suspended for a violation of Naval Academy rules by the Commandant of Midshipmen, Captain Bill Byrne according to the report. Both players will be allowed to continue practicing and study at the Naval Academy, with the possibility of being reinstated for the 2014-15 season still on the table as well.
While disappointed that Dunbar will not be returning to the court this season, [Navy head coach Ed] DeChellis said he was happy he’ll remain at the academy.
“I’m thrillled in that regard because Tilman is a very good player and a good kid,” DeChellis said. “Hopefully, we can put this behind us and move on. I think Tilman has learned his lesson.”
Dunbar hasn’t played since being suspended indefinitely prior to the Midshipmen’s December 31 game at UMBC, so DeChellis’ team does have experience playing without their leading scorer (11.9 ppg) and assist man (5.0 apg). But to lose the sophomore guard for the remainder of the season makes the process of avoiding last place more difficult for Navy, which has lost six of its last seven games and currently has a 1-3 record in Patriot League play (6-9 overall).
With Dunbar sidelined guards Kendall Knorr and Brandon Venturini have been the team’s best distributors, with Knorr averaging 2.0 assists per game (1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio) and Venturini not far behind with an average of 1.7 assists per contest (1.0 A/T ratio). And as a result of Dunbar’s suspension Venturini, who’s averaging 10.4 points per game, becomes Navy’s leading scorer.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.