Andrew Steele and Trevor Releford will “most likely” return from a one-game suspension tonight when Alabama hosts Florida. But Tony Mitchell — who’s missed two games on suspension — and JaMychal Green — who’s been suspended for one already — will not be on the court for the Tide. And that will leave Bama thin on its frontline.
“When you look at Andrew Steele – he’s been probably the finest student-athlete that I’ve coached – he made a mistake,” Grant said yesterday. “His body of work speaks for itself in terms of who he is as a person and what he’s been all about. I was a former student-athlete. You are faced with a lot of different things and you have to make decisions. Sometimes you make the wrong one. I don’t think that’s any indication of who he is as a person. Same thing with Trevor Releford. He’s a young man that’s in his sophomore year in college and made a bad choice. I think his teammates understand that. Certainly as a coach, I don’t condone it, but I’m not going to condemn him as a human being for making a bad decision. We will move on and get ready to play.”
Yesterday, we praised Grant for taking a difficult stand, one that might not be supported wholeheartedly by Tide fans eager to reach the NCAA Tournament. Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News shares our take. Today he writes that this move “may have been Grant’s finest hour.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan — Grant’s old boss — also supported his former aide’s decision to suspend four important members of his team mid-tourney push: “I really believe that in order to win big, you’ve got to be prepared to lose big. I think Anthony’s attitude is, he’s not going to be the kind of guy that’s just going to plug holes in a leaking ship … because eventually that stuff at some point is going to rear its head and it’s going to bite you at some point.”
The Gators won’t be at full strength at Coleman Coliseum tonight, either. They will be without key bench players Will Yeguette (concussion) and Mike Rosario (hip pointer).