The reigning MAAC tournament champion Loyola (MD) Greyhounds were due to return four starters from last year’s team, which made the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.
But that number dropped to three on Sunday, as it was reported by the Baltimore Sun that the school suspended sophomore point guard R.J. Williams for a violation of team rules.
According to the school Williams, who averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 assists last season, won’t be able to return to game action until January 17 against Marist (first game of the spring semester, which begins on January 14).
“He is still on the team, he is still practicing, we are not going to turn our back on R.J.,” head coach Jimmy Patsos told Don Markus of the Sun.
Patsos did note that the suspension had nothing to do with academics, and according to the paper athletic director Jim Paquette cited federal student privacy laws in refusing to disclose a more descriptive reason for the suspension.
But while it does hurt to lose a starter, Loyola doesn’t lack for options when it comes to accounting for the loss of Williams.
Junior guard Dylon Cormier finished second on the team in scoring last season (13.4 ppg) while also averaging 1.8 assists per game, and senior Robert Olson (11.1 ppg, 1.9 apg) is a capable of making things happen as well.
Of the two Cormier is the one likely to slide over into a primary ball-handler role, and newcomers such as Jarred Jones, Eric Laster and Damian Rashford should have an opportunity to earn playing time on the wing.