Well, if you haven't heard by now: Demetrius Treadwell has been suspended indefinitely from the Akron basketball team, per many sources.
Nobody outside of the program knows what happened, so let's put all of the speculation to bed right now. We can only go off of what's been reported, and all we know so far is that the suspension is indefinite. We also know this:
"he incident has been referred to the Department of Student Conduct and Community Standards." @ZipsMBB— George Thomas (@GeorgeThomasABJ) November 16, 2014
So, that sounds bad. And it is, if you look at the common violations that department sees: theft, weapons, drug distribution, sexual misconduct, violent crimes or repeat behavior. It also could be academic. Point is, we have no idea and it doesn't make sense to speculate until the school releases more information.
Let's contemplate the most immediate issue (not the most important) that arises from today's suspension. The Zips play in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday in the first round of the Charleston Classic against USC. They'll get two more games in that tournament and then play at Penn State on the 25th. It's probably very safe to say that Treadwell will miss all of those games. It's also very possible that he will be gone the rest of the calendar year.
Who steps up? Frontcourt depth is an issue for this team, and losing the best player in the frontcourt (and on the team) is a crippling blow. Not to mention that sophomore center Isaiah Johnson is still healing after injuring his wrist a few weeks ago and won't be ready for awhile.
That leaves junior West Virginia transfer Pat Forsythe to try to pick up the slack. Forsythe started the Zips' last game against UMBC and played fourteen minutes, scoring six points and fouling out. Treadwell's backup, Kwan Cheatham, scored nine points and collected five rebounds while playing 26 minutes. It was a promising game from Cheatham and is one he'll need to duplicate the rest of the way until Treadwell comes back from suspension. Aaron Jackson will also likely see an increased workload as Cheatham's backup.
As far as a team leadership position goes, that falls to Jake Kretzer, Reggie McAdams and Nyles Evans, the most senior of the young Zips. They'll need to rally the troops and try to keep everyone's mind on who is on the team for the near future and who isn't. It's easy to make excuses when the best player isn't available, but Akron can't afford that with such a tough schedule coming up.
The one silver lining is timing. Depending on what the issue was, he'll probably be back before conference play. I hate to say that the non-conference schedule doesn't mean anything, but when the MAC has been a one-bid league for years it sort of is. Conference play is by far the most important time of the year, and if the Zips can get Treadwell back by January they should be okay.
As frustrating as this situation is for Zips fans, it's something they've been through before. Actually, many times before. It's tough to say, but suspensions are becoming an issue in the men's basketball program.
Within the last three years, four players have been suspended either multiple times or for a long amount of time. Obviously everyone knows about Alex Abreu and what he did. Nick Harney was suspended more than once. Quincy Diggs lost a year to suspension for a reason nobody really knows. And finally Treadwell now, who has already been suspended once for beating up a DJ at a bar at two in the morning.
That's an alarming amount of players missing extended time.
Now, you could argue that Akron holds their players to a higher standard than most schools do. That's great, because no one player is more important than the team and legal dust-ups aren't swept under the rug.
But, when you look at what Akron players have been suspended for, it's a little bit of a different story. Obviously the Abreu situation is on another level, and we still aren't sure what happened with Diggs. Because this is now the second time that Treadwell has been in trouble, the first suspension didn't teach the lesson. It's something that needs to change, or the program will start to become known for these issues with the law.
The Abreu news went nationwide and was huge locally. Because of Treadwell's talent and Akron's standing within the college basketball world, this news will likely spread around the country too, especially when a reason comes out. You never want to become the school where all of the players get suspended (all is a relative term here). More suspensions create a stigma, and you don't want that on the recruiting trail.
So where does Akron go from here? On the court, the bench guys and the other starters need to step up to replace fifteen points and nine rebounds per game. That's a lot to ask for, especially from a younger team at the very beginning of the season.
Off the court, however, it's tough to say. I would think the rest of the team would take this news as an opportunity to straighten up any academics or would make them think twice when confronted with a drug/theft/violence situation. I'm not saying that's what Treadwell did, but when you violate the student code of conduct those are the sort of things that come about.
This isn't just "violation of team rules" or "one game for missing class." To be suspended indefinitely, whatever it was had to be pretty bad. As an Akron alum and supporter of the team it's sad to see and I hope that Treadwell gets the help he needs for whatever he is going through. On the other hand, I worry about the Akron program and just how the buildup of suspensions and players leaving the team over the years makes the program look from the outside.
If this keeps happening, it's an issue that needs to seriously be dealt with.