Sunday, January 30, 2011

Zeigler, Rashid hurried to move on

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 30, 2011

Amir Rashid was in a hurry to move on.

He walked slowly to the exit — hoody over head — and both swiftly and succinctly deflected any questions this reporter had.

“Not today,” he said. “I’m in too big of a rush.”

It was Sunday night, just outside of O’Kelly’s Sports Bar and Grill, just a week after Rashid notified his teammates he was leaving the program and just after the senior spent his afternoon sipping slowly on a Bud Light Lime while watching his former team lose by 20 points to Akron.

Rashid doesn’t have to talk to anyone. He doesn’t have to answer questions, doesn’t have to answer Facebook messages and doesn’t have to elaborate on the personal reasons that cut his senior season short.

But as he sat, watching the ESPN U telecast wearing gray Central Michigan basketball swag, the unanswered question begged to be asked: Why did he leave?

This we know: On Thursday, head coach Ernie Zeigler addressed the media and more specifically, Rashid’s departure, for just over two minutes in his post-game press conference following a 68-58 home defeat to Miami University.

During those two minutes, Zeigler used the word “basketball” once.

He referenced the former point guard’s pursuit of a degree twice.

And the fifth-year CMU head coach stuttered three times, when asked if Rashid underperformed during his time in Mount Pleasant.

“Um, I’m,” he said, pausing. “I (pause), I (longer pause), I have no comment on that.”

Well here’s a comment on that.

And let the record state that I was not in attendance during Thursday’s post-game press conference, instead holed up in a classroom learning reporting ethics that strongly imply you should not write about events you weren’t at.

First, this move doesn’t make basketball sense. Not from the player’s standpoint, who started in 16 of the team’s 18 games he dressed for; And not from the coaches standpoint, who desperately needs any kind of leadership from any player not named Jalin Thomas.

“He was probably our best on the ball defender,” Zeigler said. “That’s probably where we will miss him the most.”

Or with experience. Or with leadership. Or with the competitive drive of an athlete that wants to make something of his final season.

Second, the reason doesn’t make life sense. You’re Amir Rashid.

You transferred from a junior college to play basketball at the Division-I level.

You have played at that level, consistently, and halfway through what is in all likelihood the last year you will be playing competitive basketball, you decide that, you know what, I’ve been a student-athlete for a few years and now I think I just want to be a student.

And third, you look at the trio of pauses in Zeigler’s 40-second response to Rashid’s progress at CMU, and it can only equal one thing:

Both Amir Rashid and Ernie Zeigler were in a hurry to move on.

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