News broke tonight that Indiana Hoosiers would be without the services of three underclassmen for the next four games. Sophomores Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson are reportedly being punished for failing multiple drug tests. Robinson has seen controversy before, being arrested last season for underage drinking and possession of a fake ID along with Yogi Ferrell. Freshman Emmett Holt is being suspended for his arrest this weekend following an incident that left teammate Devin Davis in critical condition. More about that situation can be found here.
It has been clarified that the teams' two exhibition games will be included as part of the four games for each player. This means all players will be back for IU's first major conference opponent SMU on November 20th. Missing these early match-ups will no doubt leave these players behind in their preparation for the regular season, exhibitions and early opponents give guys valuable experience you can't get in practice and want to have by the time you get to the meat of your season. Robinson and Williams saw significant time last season and were projected to start going into this year. This leaves the Hoosiers with only one (Ferrell) of their seven best scorers available, and without Holt and Davis there are fewer players available to fill their spots.
However, IU will likely be able to weather the storm and not lose any of the four games during the suspension. The real question will be whether or not these suspensions will have a negative effect on the morale and focus of the team. Sometimes controversy can bring a team together and help guys mature more quickly on and off the court, but it can just as easily lead to dissent inside the locker room.
Indiana will have to hope that the former happens and the team grows from these challenges. The Hoosier fanbase was certainly not happy with last season and fans are looking for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament this season. Can they get back to the promised land or will these off the court issues be signs of things to come? We will have to wait and see.