New SMU head coach Larry Brown began the rebuilding process by completing his coaching staff.
The next step: figuring out a roster that went 13-19 overall and 4-12 in Conference USA last season, with an eye towards the Mustangs’ joining the Big East in 2013.
According to the SMU Daily Campus, Brown informed three players that they would not be a part of the team next season and one of those three was sophomore point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas.
The Bartow, Florida native started all 31 games last season, averaging 6.9 points and 4.2 assists per game after helping lead SMU to their first postseason appearance in more than a decade as a freshman.
The other two players who won’t return are freshman Eric Norman and redshirt freshman Ricmonds Vilde, and they combined to play in 24 games last season.
But the Samarrippas news is the bit that’s received most of the attention due to his role on the team, and the decision is one that surprised him as well.
“It’s tough for me and it’s tough for my family,” Samarrippas told the SMU Daily Campus. “I was excited to play with Larry Brown because he’s a Hall of Famer.”
Thanks to SMU Director of Public Relations Herman Hudson, NBCSports.com has obtained a short statement from SMU AD Steve Orsini on the matter:
“Upon his hiring, Coach Brown conducted an evaluation of the current men’s basketball roster and then held timely individual meetings with members of the team. During each meeting, there was honest, straight-forward discussion about the future of the program. No player was told his scholarship would not be renewed. Per NCAA men’s basketball rules, each student-athlete has the opportunity to remain at SMU as a student and retain his scholarship. If a student-athlete wishes to continue his playing career elsewhere, Coach Brown and his staff will help him find another institution. These are decisions that will be made by the individual student-athletes, though, and not the Athletic Department. We wish these young men the best in their future endeavors.” – Steve Orsini, SMU Director of Athletics
Situations like this are never pretty but they happen, whether or not the head coach is new to the job.
Photo credit: Dallas Morning News/AP