Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 1:43 pm

Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor suspended; who steps in?

Posted by Matt Norlander

Kansas is the latest school to indefinitely suspend a player. About 30 minutes ago,  the school put out a brief press release stating it was shelving junior guard Tyshawn Taylor for an indefinite amount of time.

(These indefinite suspensions have been all the rage this year, often lasting no more than a week, so let's sit tight and see just how badly Taylor's behavior has been.)

We don't know the specific reason why Taylor is being getting put in the corner. More and more, teams are protecting their student-athletes and being as vague as possible in this scenarios. Understandable.

"Although we are disappointed in Tyshawn, he will remain a member of our team and practice with our team until he is reinstated for competition," head coach Bill Self said in a statement.

Taylor's vastly improved from the player he was a freshman. In fact, in my opinion, Taylor's play was as critical as the Morris' in the early part of the season, helping 25-2 Kansas get off to that 18-0 start. Taylor's the man at the point, averaging 4.7 dimes per game, third best in the Big 12. Now ... who takes over for him in the short-term? Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed are two seniors that should be competent enough to not let KU slip up too much.

Morningstar averages 3.1 assists per game; Reed 1.8. A guy by the name of Elijah Johnson could be factored in here, too, though I'm not sure he's who Self will turn to all that much. Same goes for Josh Selby, a freshman who's struggled despite flashes of flashy play, is not the right replacement guy for Taylor for any elongated duration this season. Fortunately, the Jayhawks are pretty equipped in the backcourt. This suspension comes with some attention on Kansas tonight, as the Jayhawks host 16-10 and dying-of-thirst-for-a-good-win Oklahoma State on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET. We'll have an immediate idea of what Self's team looks like without Taylor's services.

Who knows if that will play into Self's decision on when to bring him back. Without Taylor, it's certain Kansas doesn't deserve to be the No. 1-ranked team in the country now, though, right?

Photo: AP
Posted on: January 18, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 12:09 pm

Witherspoon will rejoin Tigers Thursday

Posted by Matt Norlander

His message was delivered quickly, but Josh Pastner seems to be about second chances.

You can't deny he's high on the discipline, though.

Pastner, the head coach at Memphis, announced last night he'll let junior forward Wesley Witherspoon back on the team Thursday morning. That reinstatement comes the day after the Tigers' big road game against 14-3 Southern Mississippi, which happens to be one of the best teams in (a relatively weak) Conference USA.

While Pastner characterized the suspension as a “very, very minor situation,” Witherspoon hasn’t practiced with the team since the SMU trip and was held out of the Tigers’ 77-61 win over Marshall on Saturday.

“The plan is to reinstate him on Thursday and have a fresh, clean slate. I’m taking it day by day,” said Pastner, who met with Witherspoon on Monday. “We had a good meeting. It was good.

“Very positive and very productive.”

Pastner can downplay Witherspoon's actions all he wants, but the drama around this program will not go away until the season ends. Like I noted above, Pastner's a disciplinarian, but also not above letting guys come back, tail between their legs, and give it a second go.

That's what happened with freshman Jelan Kendrick in November — before he inevitably transferred.

What's going to be interesting is to see how Memphis plays without Witherspoon against Southern Miss. If the Tigers win big, then talk radio (which is almost always all about Memphis basketball) will be abuzz over whether Witherspoon returning so soon is a good thing.

If the Tigers win, they're 2-0 without Witherspoon and 12-4 with him. It's sample size, but it won't stop fans from making and taking that leap. If Memphis loses, then of course the conversation's different.

The details of why Witherspoon was suspended were covered in Gary Parrish's blog post a few days ago. While what he did was disrespectful, it's hardly the most heinous of acts. The Tigers are hardly a bubble team right now. Their at-large hopes rest in what happens over the course of the next three games: at Southern Miss, at 12-4 UAB and home against 14-2 Central Florida.

If Witherspoon's paid his dues, Pastner's got little choice but to get him back on the team as soon as possible to keep March hopes alive.

Posted on: January 13, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 8:27 pm

Memphis is a mess Wesley Witherspoon suspended

Posted by Matt Norlander

For the second time this season, second-year coach Josh Pastner has shown he's not afraid to run the Memphis men's basketball program by his exact, no-tolerance rules.

At least that's how it looks from the outside.

Who knows how long it's taking for Pastner to come to these domineering decisions privately — what series of actions behind closed doors are piling up — but at the very least the Memphis coach isn't letting things wiggle from his grip from a public perspective.

First it was Jelan Kendrick who earned a suspension under Pastner's rule in November. He eventually left the program and landed at Mississippi last month. And now, tonight, it's junior Wesley Witherspoon who's being put on ice for an indefinite amount of time. This coming one night after Memphis lost for the second straight season at mediocre Southern Methodist.

The news broke a short while ago, when Pastner informed the media after a Tigers practice.

From the outside, it seems Pastner's basically saying, if this team is going to lose, it's going to do it with the future of this program and the guys who are fully invested. That anyone who's immature, lacks leadership and embodies apathy, those guys, they can take a hike and do some soul searching. That's what Pastner's put in front of Witherspoon now.

Will he be back? After Kendrick's jettison act, who knows for certain? This team is young and talented and we all expected some drama. Who knew we'd get a fireworks show like this, though?

The 20-year-old, 6-9 Witherspoon was thought to be the leader of this team back in October. But the forward's had far too may non-impactful performances throughout Memphis' 12-4 season so far. He's been anything but a model alpha for this group. Many close to the program have seen the proof first-hand: he doesn't work hard, he doesn't guard anybody and he generally doesn't care too much about which way the ship sails.

Basically the feeling is losing doesn't bother him. And with Pastner, that's something he won't tolerate — all the way to the point where he'll temporarily remove a guy from the team.

The second-year coach is trying to change the tone. Pastner's a young guy too (33), so it's all the more impressive he's so insistent with his team like this. He knows this decision immediately creates a swirling melodrama around his already unstable team.

Tells all you need to know about how fed up Pastner is with Witherspoon.

Photo: AP
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com