Ben Jacobson announced on Tuesday that his Northern Iowa Panthers will be playing their first three games this season without their leading returning scorer.
Anthony James, a senior that averaged 12.5 points as a junior, would be suspended for violating team rules and athletic department policies.
“I’m disappointed for Anthony and our team,” Jacobson said in a statement. “However, the situation has been dealt with and put behind us. We are looking forward to the start of practice.”
The three games that James will miss? At home against Wartburg, Toledo and North Dakota.
UNI’s fourth game of the season? In the Bahamas against Louisville. As in “top-three-team-in-the-country”, “coming-off-of-a-Final-Four” Louisville.
The Panthers have a chance to be the best team in the Missouri Valley not named Creighton this season, and with a strong performance in the loaded Bahamas tournament, they have an outside shot at landing an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament. It sounds ridiculous to consider that at this point, but it is true. Losing James wouldn’t be the death knell to their season, but it certainly would hurt.
Hopefully, this suspension will be enough to convince the senior that it’s time to step up and be leader instead of being on the sidelines during games that actually count.