The Ohio Men's Basketball team played an exhibition game Saturday vs Division II foe Ashland, winning it 66-44. It marked the beginning of a new chapter for the program as it's the second year under head coach Jim Christian, and the first year without the winningest senior class in Ohio history. The familiar faces of Ivo Baltic, Walter Offutt, Reggie Keely and D.J. Cooper are all gone, playing professionally overseas, or pursuing careers outside of playing.
In their place are several role players from a year ago, and a group of fresh new faces. Among those new faces, several are projected to play prominent roles this season, including 6'9'' forward Maruice Ndour. Ndour, a highly skilled wing player from Senegal, started for the 'Cats Saturday, showing off his unique skill set and helping lead the way for Ohio's win. He won over several fans in the local media. But one person was less than thrilled about Ndour's debut, and it had nothing to do with his play.
When Ndour took the court Saturday, he was wearing a familiar number; No. 5. It's the same number Cooper wore during his historic 4-year run in Athens, Ohio. Cooper caught wind of this, and wasn't too pleased about it.
Disapppointed that they let somebody wear my number! Not feeling that at all Ohio— Dj cooper (@Djcoop5) November 2, 2013
Somebody tell president Mc Davis to email me.— Dj cooper (@Djcoop5) November 2, 2013
Taking to Twitter to air his grievances from Greece, where he currently plays professionally, Cooper appeared frustrated with the situation, demanding someone put him in contact with the University's president.
Cooper, arguably the greatest player in Ohio Basketball history and certainly the greatest to ever wear No. 5, left in the spring, following the completion of his senior season. But, he left without completing his degree, and Ohio University has a policy to not honor the numbers of players who didn't earn their degrees (see Gary Trent). Less than nine months later though, the legend's number had been reassigned, to someone Cooper never played with.
It'l be interesting to see what comes of this.