Manhattan’s Andujar suspended vs. Canisius

By Nick Veronica

andujar

Andujar

Manhattan’s leading scorer Emmy Andujar (13.2 points per game) will serve a one-game suspension Sunday against Canisius, Manhattan’s athletic department confirmed to IAGS.

Andujar picked up a flagrant-2 foul Friday at Niagara, which carries a suspension. He will be back in the lineup Wednesday when Manhattan takes on Saint Peter’s.

Andujar, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, was a Preseason Second Team All-MAAC selection.

Manhattan started Shane Richards, Ashton Pankey, RaShawn Stores, Rich Williams and Donovan Kates.

Canisius’ Groves suspended indefinitely by coach

Reggie Groves is averaging 6.0 points and 2.6 assists in nearly 30 minutes per game.

Reggie Groves has been suspended indefinitely from the Canisius men’s basketball team for academic reasons, the school’s athletic department told reporters before Friday night’s game after Groves did not participate in warm-ups.

Head coach Tom Parrotta said after the game that Groves is not academically ineligible by NCAA standards but that he chose to suspend the sophomore himself until he gets some “favorable response” from the academic side of campus.

Parrotta spoke about Groves for the first 5 ½ minutes of his 11-minute press conference after Canisius’ 78-66 loss to Manhattan. The entire discussion is transcribed below, with notable points bolded.

Every time Groves comes up in a post-game conference, Parrotta finds a way to mention that Groves has had three knee operations and that his knee (and subsequently, agility and effectiveness) is not what it was when Groves was brought in as a recruit. Keep in mind that Division I scholarships are one-year, renewable contracts, which any coach of any sport may choose not to offer any returning player; a fact that Parrotta knows and could possibly be considering as he discusses his 23-year-old sophomore.

  • Parrotta was informed of the situation when a professor contacted him.
  • Groves was suspended by Parrotta, not the NCAA.
  • The issue is limited to one class, not several.
  • Parrotta would not say when Groves would be back, only that he would need to “get some favorable response back from some academic folks to be able to have that conversation to move forward.”
  • It was especially important to Parrotta that the standards remain strict during a losing season (recall that the program receives national recognition for having all of its players graduate with Master’s degrees under Parrotta).
  • Parrotta used Groves as an example for his new recruits who have to sit out this season (Freddy Asprilla, Issac Sosa, Jordan Heath) to show them “this is how we do things.”
  • Groves watched the game in street clothes from the stands near corner of the gym. When asked why he wasn’t suiting up, he said “I’m on punishment.”

The Buffalo News’ Rodney McKissic opened the press conference asking about the status of Reggie Groves.

Tom Parrotta: He is going to take some time away to focus on academics. I’m glad you brought it up because we have a pretty high standard here. We’ve had unbelievable success in the classroom and you have to have certain things in place that guys have to follow through with. It’s simply one of those things that if you get those priorities out of whack a little bit … it’s always going to be academics here, then it’s going to be basketball, then it’s going to be social, and if any of those things get intertwined, I have to step in and make sure they get realigned in the right way. Nothing serious, just is a matter of not taking care of business in the classroom. It was one class and we nipped it and I said this is not a road we’re going to go down, especially in the midst of a season where you are struggling, and it’s one of those bridge-years where we have a program in place, there’s always going to be a program in place, and those same conditions are always going to apply to everyone, win, lose or draw. That’s why we have a strong program, to be able to get through a year like this, because we have a lot to look forward to, we really do. When we’re at full strength, meaning in a year from now with a lot of different folks, we’re going to be okay. But I’m not going to let anybody get those priorities out of whack – that will never be the case here.

McKissic followed up, asking how long Groves will be out for.

TP: What I said to Reggie is, ‘this is not the time for you to be around. Get your stuff together academically.’ He’s going to get together with some academic folks and kind of square away some things, and we’re not talking about three, four, five classes, we’re talking about a class. But I want to get some favorable response back from some academic folks to be able to have that conversation to move forward. That’s kind of how I left it. I didn’t give it much thought because I act on those things pretty quickly when it comes to academics … Let’s face it guys, Reggie is someone who’s had three knee operations – and I mean this in all due respect because he’s a really good kid – his knee is not nearly where it was when he first got here. So he’s very, very limited.

I asked if Groves violated an NCAA rule or if it was one of Parrotta’s team rules.

TP: Oh, no, no, no. [Not NCAA.] If I was to say if it was a major thing or minor thing, it’s minor. Things are nipped here when they’re minor so they don’t turn into major. This is the time to step up and make sure the conditions for your program are very much adhered to. And that’s what it was. Nothing serious. He’s not cooperating in one class. When you’re a student-athlete here, you get noticed. So if the professor reaches out and says he’s not carrying his weight in this class, I intervene. And I intervened.

I asked Parrotta to clarify if a professor had come to him about the incident.

TP: Well, yeah. That’s the relationship I have with folks here. And that’s a good thing. That’s how I want it, too. Because I have a very good reputation here as far as academics are concerned. So I want to know everything. We check every class. Every class that these guys go to we check. … If they’re not where they’re supposed to be or doing what they’re supposed to do, I find out about it. And that’s our program. That’s why we’re national news. Not for wins and losses this year, but for doing things the right way. Our guys have more degrees that you can shake a stick at. That’s how it’s done. I’m sending a message to the [transfers] that are sitting out, because they’re new here: This is how we do things. Because they’re all going to get their degrees.

Horton got a shoulder, Rome got the shaft

Paul Kariya wasn't expecting to get hit by Scott Stevens in 2003, and we all know what happened to him. You'd think Nathan Horton would have remembered to keep his head up coming over the middle in the Stanley Cup Finals. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Here’s the dirty little secret about Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton that no one wants to acknowledge: it wasn’t that bad.

It was a little bit late. That’s all. People need to chill out. Rome didn’t go head hunting and he didn’t hit Horton from his blindside like people keep saying — it was from directly in front of him. Horton makes a pass, takes two steps, and gets rocked. Rome didn’t charge him; he was turned and stood up at the blue line. The hit came 1-2 seconds after he made the pass, which isn’t that late. Pause the video on the pass and the hit and see for yourself. 

I’m thinking people are more concerned with the result of the hit than the hit itself, but that is a horrible way to judge things. You can’t base punishment and accusations of dirty play based on whether or not the guy gets injured. If something is bad, it’s bad no matter what the result.

If Horton maybe looks around him instead of watching his pass, he probably wouldn’t be concussed right now. If he only got knocked off his balance or fell down and got right up, this hit isn’t that big of a deal. It’s maybe two minutes for interference, but who knows in the playoffs.

The form of the check was fine. There was no additional malice, not more than you would use for any other check. You aim for the chest and explode through the man. That’s what Rome did. His elbow was tucked at the time impact and he led with the shoulder. It’s just a little late. That’s all.

There’s a referee in front of the play who doesn’t put his arm up. Even if he turned to watch the pass, he would have looked back for a hit that big. There’s no saying he didn’t see it; it was straight in front of him, and he didn’t have a call.

The referee following the play from behind puts his arm up, three seconds after the check and long after Horton had hit the ice.  There’s some internal debate that runs through your mind as a referee when you see something you think might be a penalty, and the back ref made up his mind in an appropriate amount of time. He did fine, but if you watch him, you can see he went over it in his head before making the call. It wasn’t something he saw and immediately shot his arm up for.

There’s something to be said about Horton expecting a hit, too. Defensemen salivate daydreaming about forwards coming over the line with their head down like that. Some people say a forward deserves anything that happens to him if he has his head down. I’ll give Horton a pass because it was a little late, but he clearly was not expecting to be hit, at all.

That part is inexcusable. This is the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s physical. It’s intense. Your guys are getting in the other team’s face in a not-so-polite manner. They’re going to want a piece of you any chance they get. You better look both ways before you come out of the dressing room, let alone attempt to cross the blue line.

I’m not trying to take all the blame off Rome. His timing was not great, but that doesn’t make it some barbaric act like people are making it out to be, and Horton needs to be held accountable for some of it, too. Rome doesn’t have a history of playing dirty and he shouldn’t get one for this hit. If it came half a second sooner or if Horton braced for it, no one even remembers the play.

Vancouver contends it was a clean hit. I don’t know about that, but I do know it wasn’t as bad as everyone’s making it out to be. I feel bad that someone had to be taken out on a stretcher, even if he does play for Boston. That doesn’t change the facts. You can’t dish out punishment because you feel bad. That’s like saying Nathan Horton is more valuable to the league than Tim Connolly. Even if you believe that, you can’t say that and you certainly can’t rule like that.

You also can’t dole out discipline based on how long the other person is out for. That’s not how the league works. There’s too many other factors that go in to injuries. Identical hits on Connolly and Drew Stafford likely would produce different outcomes. You penalize the action, not the results (game misconducts are slightly different). When we hear that the league took heavily into account the fact that Horton will not come back, that’s a red flag.

I’m going to contend the hit was not that bad. It’s unfortunate Horton was hurt. Rome got a penalty for interference, not roughing or elbowing or a head shot or anything else. You can’t blame someone for hitting hard. You can for hitting late. That’s two minutes. If you want to give him five and a game, that’s within the rules. That’s fine.

A four-game suspension is harsh. You can guarantee Rome is paying for Burrows’ biting incident that the league dropped the ball on. That’s retribution for Bruins fans, but that doesn’t make it fair to Rome. He and his agent are considering appealing the suspension, which makes sense when you consider it is longer than every other suspension in Cup Finals history added together.

There have been three other suspensions, and they were all one game. For a four-gamer that removes him from the rest of the finals, you would have thought Rome murdered someone. Nope, he just stepped up a fraction of a second too late.

Barry Melrose said that Rome “is an easier player to suspend” basically because he’s not a star. It’s true that it’d be harder for the NHL to say Kevin Bieksa is out for the rest of the series, but that’s so wrong to say. The punishment needs to fit the crime, regardless of who it is. If something is worthy of a suspension, it’s equally as worthy, regardless of who the offender is (as long as he has a clean record, like Rome). Go up to Rome and tell him, “too bad you weren’t a Sedin, because then it would only be one game,” and see what he says.

There’s no good way to handle this, besides don’t mess up in the first place. Burrows should have been suspended one game, but the precedent the league is setting is that minor players are going to have to pay for the actions of stars.

No one on either side is ever going to think it’s fair. They need people in the middle to nudge them and say it’s really not that bad. Aaron Rome is getting robbed of what will likely be the greatest memory of his life, and all you can do is hope his replacement plays well.

BREAKING: Canisius basketball players suspended

Two members of the Canisius College men’s basketball team have been suspended from the team in connection with an on-campus theft.

“A couple of guys made a poor error in judgment,” men’s basketball coach Tom Parrotta said. “It’s being sorted out with the other side of campus [Public Safety], and it’s certainly going to be sorted out by me very quickly.”

The athletic department released a statement Thursday confirming the suspensions.

“The student-athletes are cooperating with the campus inquiry, and the College is reviewing the incident in accordance with our Community Standards,” athletic director Bill Maher said in the statement. “We are disappointed in their decision and at this time, they have been suspended from the program. Their status will be reevaluated at the conclusion of the campus process.”

Maher confirmed in a phone interview that the players are indefinitely suspended from the team. There is speculation as to which players may be involved, but none of those names have been confirmed.

Director of Public Safety Gary Everett would not confirm the names of any students involved or any programs they may be affiliated with, but a report was filed on Feb. 21 citing that two iPods and cash were taken from a freshman dorm room in Frisch Hall.

Parrotta confirmed that he visited that dorm room Wednesday night to discuss the matter with the students whose items were stolen, which are valued around $500.

“I apologized on behalf of the program,” Parrotta said. “It was a very good meeting. It was important for them to know that me, as head of this program, for what it’s worth, we apologize.”

Parrotta said he brought a basketball player with him to the meeting but did not say if that player was one of the two suspended.

No criminal charges were filed and none are expected according to Public Safety. Director of Residence Life Matthew Mulville said on Wednesday that he was aware of the incident in Frisch but could not comment on the identities of any parties involved.

The victims of the theft, who asked not to be named for fear of their own safety, said the incident occurred over Presidents’ Day weekend (Feb. 19-21) while they were out of the room. The victims’ suitemate said that after a party, he returned to his room with several members of the basketball team to get his wallet before going to McDonald’s.

The suitemate estimated he was in his room for two minutes at most. When he left his room, he remembers the players being in the common room and hallway.

When the two roommates returned to their room, they noticed their devices were missing, and one found his wallet lying empty on his desk. Although they usually lock the inside door to their room as well as the outside door to the hallway, the roommates said their inside door was left unlocked that night.

According to the roommates, the items that were taken included a 32 GB iPod touch, valued at $300; the case the iPod was in, a Speck X Burton Fitted Case valued at $40; an iPod nano, valued at $200; and approximately $35 in cash. The Public Safety report included the iPods and the cash, but valued the iPod nano at $100 and did not mention a case.

After the missing iPods were reported, Public Safety began an investigation. Missing items are usually hard to locate, but the Internet feature on the iPod touch gave Public Safety a lead. Everett said that two days after the theft, the student reregistered the iPod to Canisius Internet, which made it traceable.

Then, by using the tracking feature, looking at surveillance video and following swipe card usage, Public Safety was able to find the thief. According to Public Safety, when confronted with the information, the student admitted to taking the iPod touch, but not the nano or the cash. A second student later admitted to taking the iPod nano.

Public Safety did not say when they would be making a move to recover the items, but the roommates received written formal notice there was “a significant development in the investigation of [their] missing iPod[s]” early Tuesday afternoon.

The roommates said they are glad their items were returned by the student-athletes, and they very much appreciated that Parrotta paid them a personal visit.

Parrotta said he has briefly met with student-athletes involved in the situation, but could not comment on the identities of the players.

“When [Bill Maher] gets all the facts and I get all the facts and I talk to the guys, we’ll sit down and decide what the best thing is for, ultimately, the program.”

The men’s basketball team’s season officially ended last Saturday night after the Griffs lost to Rider in the quarterfinals of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, 79-64.

By all accounts, Public Safety usually handles this type of situation relatively quickly. Once its investigation is finished, the Athletic Department, and more specifically, the men’s basketball team, will have its chance to take action asking the student-athletes involved.

Read my full story here on The Griffin Newspaper website here.