Tigers' Cooper suspended
Calipari says sophomore center violated team rules
By Dan Wolken
October 31, 2006
University of Memphis sophomore center Kareem Cooper was suspended indefinitely by coach John Calipari on Monday for violating team rules. Calipari declined to discuss specifically why Cooper was suspended and didn't outline when -- or if -- Cooper would come back.
Asked whether the suspension stemmed from a particular incident, Calipari said it was "all-encompassing. I'm not going to be specific ... You draw the line, here it is, this is what we do here." Cooper has not been at practice since Thursday, when Calipari said he was dealing with personal issues.
It's the second time Cooper has been suspended from the team. In January, Cooper was arrested during a traffic stop for marijuana possession. The 6-11 Washington, D.C. native pleaded guilty to the possession charge and was suspended four games.
Calipari said Cooper's situation would be re-evaluated before a determination is made on his future at Memphis.
"We'll probably deal with it in another week or two to figure out what's next," Calipari said. "But at this point, I'm just suspending him, keeping him away from us."
Asked to discuss what Cooper would need to do to return to the program, Calipari said: "That's more in-house."
When Cooper first missed practice, freshman center Hashim Bailey also was absent. Bailey, however, returned Friday and had a breakout weekend in two upbeat scrimmages.
"We're holding guys accountable," Calipari said, describing Bailey's emergence. "You have meetings, and I don't think a whole lot gets done in a meeting. I think a crisis brings about change. But there have been some meetings about what's acceptable and what's not, and I think he's having fun out here because he's doing what he has to do to help the team.
"You can be in the back arguing ... and you're miserable and then you make us miserable and then we don't want you here. We really don't. We don't want you here. Or you come back out here and enjoy this, which is what he's doing, and then all the sudden his teammates love playing with him."
Cooper averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in 11 minutes per game last season. He likely would have seen similar playing time this year behind junior Joey Dorsey and freshman Pierre Niles, who is roughly a week away from practicing again after knee surgery.
The Tigers will play two exhibition games -- beginning Thursday at FedExForum against LeMoyne-Owen -- before opening the regular season Nov. 16 against Jackson State.
-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365