Further complicating things for the struggling Ball State basketball team, the Ball State Daily News is reporting that senior center Tom Howland has been dismissed from the team for his participation in an early morning bar scuffle Tuesday, according to Howland's father. The report notes that Howland wasn't the aggressor, didn't hit anyone, and wasn't charged, and that the sum of his participation seems to be the fact that he was at the wrong end of a tire iron swung by the son of a University official (which might end up being an interesting story in itself). One would surmise that the fact he was out at 4am and drinking his fifth cool, frosty adult beverage on the day before a game may have caused the dismissal, but details are sketchy at this point. The Muncie StarPress is yet to post a report, so details shall remain sketchy for a while (unless the DN offers an update)...
This is not the first player lost by the floundering Cardinals. Earlier this season, junior shooting guard Darren Yates was dismissed for "continued conduct detrimental to the team."
Of course, all of this occurred after junior point guard Peyton Stovall was lost for the season
due to a torn ACL.
So... now there are three veteran players gone from the team... [sigh...]
Update: Guess I should point out, Howland had a pretty good line in his last action as a Cardinal, especially considering the late night and five drinks the day before, and the tire iron upside the head. In just 10 minutes, Big Tom had 6 points on 3-5 shooting, along with a block and 4 boards (2 offensive). That was the best line of the night for any of the Cardinal big men, considering Bass only played 2 minutes before injury, Nelson shot 1-5, and Kent earned his 10th consecutive DNP.
Tom had just gotten to the point where he was a solid, consistent contributer over the last few weeks. Of course, after several knee surgeries he played limited minutes, but he was really making the most of those minutes and bringing some much needed spark. Sad to see this happen, especially right before the tournament...
Update: Tom Howland was just interviewed on WCRD. Basically, Howland says that Buckley called him in to his office after the game, said he obviously had other priorities above the team, and gave him the boot. He said he didn't tell the coaches about the incident because he felt fine, he was essentially an innocent bystander who got into the line of fire, and he thought that bringing it up would cause an unneeded and unnecessary distraction for a team that already had it's share of them.
By all accounts, Howland was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's hard to imagine that this is worth more than a one-game suspension or something. When asked if he would try to appeal to get back on the team, Tom said he doesn't want to play for someone that doesn't want him on the team.
Update (2/24): Tim Buckley had his normal Thursday press conference last night. In it, he stated that the drinking, the hour that the incident occured, and previous incidents led to the quick trigger finger. Howland denies that he has had any previous disciplinary issues, and backing up his claim is the fact that in his four years he has never been suspended from playing in a game. Here's the Buckley quote in the new StarPress article that struck me:
(Note: BSUDN has a new article as well)
"Being out at 3:20 a.m. the morning before a basketball game and being involved in the situation Tom was involved in was not conducive to success off the court or on the court. Therefore, that's why the decision was made."Buckley said there was no curfew in place the night of the fracas, but he said players have been warned that "not many good things happen after 10 o'clock at night." He also said the team has no rule prohibiting drinking by players who are of age, but they are encouraged to keep it at a minimum to promote peak performance.
- There was no curfew, yet the fact that he was out at 4am is a factor in the dismissal. Check
- There is no rule against drinking, yet the fact that he was drinking led to the dismissal.Check
- There is no rule against getting beaned by a crowbar, yet the fact that he got beaned by a crowbar led to the dismissal. Check
- He has never been suspended in his four years, but past incidents led to the dismissal. Check
It makes no sense. And this is totally ignoring the allegation made by Howland's father that someone in the athletic training staff said Buckley knew before the game that he had been whacked in the noggin with a tire iron only the day before, and chose to dismiss him only after having him play in Wednesday's game. Take this as rumour and allegation, as Buckley denies it.
I don't get it...