As we all know by now, Sylven Landesberg was suspended for the remainder of the season for failure to meet his academic obligations imposed by Coach Tony Bennett and the Virginia Basektball staff. To add to Virginia's troubles, Calvin Baker has asked to leave the team for personal family reasons. What does this mean for Virginia's chances in the ACC Tournament later this week? Is there any backstory to either of these two departures?
Sylven is the third player to have incurred the wrath of Coach Bennett, who is trying to rebuild this program from the ground up, the right way. Bennett earlier had suspended Assane Sene for "conduct detrimental to the team." He had also suspended, and later dismised, Jamil Tucker for failure to meet academic standards. The bottom line here is that Bennett is not joking around.
"It was a hard decision because we know the value he brings to this team," Bennett said. "He is a good kid but there are some expectations and standards that he has to adhere to."
The Daily Progress reports that their sources say this was because he apparently never attended art class, though this has not been confirmed by other sources.
On Monday's coaches' teleconference, Bennett addressed the situation:
"There's a lot of communication, random class checks, and guidelines established, like, this is what we expect from you," Bennett said. "Not only attendance, but class participation, and how you go about it. Those are things that are set up."
"Sylven's situation was where he was at a lot of his other classes. This was one, obviously, it didn't happen. It was unfortunate. It was clear that with the team starting, there would be potential suspensions, punishments, what have you."
During the teleconference, he referenced the class checks at least six times.
"When you come to the University of Virginia, there are some expectations and the young men on the team need to know that when we say things we mean them."
As I posted earlier, Calvin Baker has also left the team for the remainder of the season, taking time off to address some family matters.
"Calvin will miss the rest of the season for personal family reasons," Bennett said. "A member of his family is ill and he needs to be with his family. Calvin and his family have our best wishes."
Call me optimistic, but I don't think our ACC Tournament chances change that much (and no, I don't mean from "no chance" to "no chance"). Anyone who watched at least the second half of the game against Maryland on Saturday knows that even without Landesberg, our team has the ability to put up a decent fight.
And while Baker was a starter for that game, he only played for 11 minutes, during which time he put up 0 points (in 3 attempts), 0 rebounds. He did dish out two assists, to his credit.
So with a daunting four games in four days (which isn't terribly different from our February schedule), the Cavaliers will have to play two men down, and while we need to take this one game at a time and focus on Boston College on Thursday, I'm sure our team can't help but to realize that Duke is right around the corner. A Duke squad who will be fighting for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But, encouraged by the fiery passion of their coach, and determined to salvage a season that had started off so strong, I have no doubt that we should be expecting a pretty good game on Thursday. Boston College won in the only matchup between the two schools this year, by 13, in a game that was nowhere near as close. Without any hesitation, I would take that line.