Two Terps Suspended for Opener
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Maryland senior James Gist and sophomore Landon Milbourne will be suspended for the Terrapins' men's basketball season opener against North Florida on Sunday because they violated an NCAA rule by playing in an organized offseason game in Ocean City, Maryland Coach Gary Williams said yesterday.
"The players are very aware of the rules," Williams said in a telephone interview. "They know they can't play in any outside competition unless it is a sanctioned summer league. This was just a game organized by someone in Ocean City."
The players participated in one day of the Maryland State 5-on-5 Tournament in April, which violated an NCAA rule that prohibits athletes from competing in unsanctioned competitions outside the university. Williams said Maryland immediately reported the incident to the NCAA, which reviewed it and imposed a one-game suspension because the two players had competed in one unsanctioned game.
"They made a mistake," Williams said. "Obviously they were swayed by some people. We have to be tougher. When you are 19 or 20, you make mistakes. It has nothing to do with their character."
The 6-foot-9 Gist is Maryland's leading returning scorer and rebounder. He competed on the U.S. Pan American Games team this summer. He was fourth in the ACC in blocked shots with 2.12 per game and seventh in rebounding with 7.2. He blocked 72 shots and ranks eighth all-time at Maryland with 154 career blocked shots.
This season, he is one of 50 preseason candidates for the Wooden Award, given annually to the college basketball player of the year. Last month at the ACC's media day, Gist told reporters he wanted to take more of a leadership role on this season's team.
"This is my opportunity to give [the team's young players] what I did not have," he said. "I'm tired of sitting back. We didn't have senior leadership" during his first two seasons, which ended with disappointing appearances in the National Invitation Tournament.
Milbourne played sparingly last season, averaging 4.8 minutes per game. He participated this summer with the East Coast All-Stars on a 10-day tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, averaging 13.1 points. He is expected to vie for the starting small forward position this season.
The absence of two likely starters will give Maryland's six freshmen more playing time Sunday, but the suspensions should not impact the game's outcome.
North Florida has five starters back from a team that was 3-26 last season. If Maryland beats the Ospreys in the first round of the CBE Classic, the Terrapins will play the winner of the Tulsa-Hampton game Monday night for the right to advance to the semifinals in Kansas City, Mo., where No. 2 UCLA likely will await.
Maryland plays its only exhibition game tonight against Concordia at Comcast Center at 8 .
Williams said he wanted to announce the suspensions Saturday so North Florida would not gain a competitive advantage. But he said a "source close to the athletic department" informed a member of the media of the suspension beforehand, which prompted Williams to announce the suspension yesterday.