Cook kicked off squad for violations of team rules
Published 12:00 am Friday, January 31, 2003
LORMAN &045; Rhau-Chavis Landfair just wanted to get more minutes on the floor.
But not under these circumstances.
Now Landfair will get the bulk of the playing time underneath for the Alcorn State Braves after head coach Davey L. Whitney dismissed post Lee Cook from the team Wednesday for repeated violations of team rules.
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Cook, a 6-9, 225-pound junior out of Omaha, Neb., was the team’s leading scorer and the fifth-best scorer in the Southwestern Athletic Conference at 16.7 points per game. He was also the team’s top rebounder at 6.9 per game.
&uot;It puts us in a bind a little bit, but we’re not dead,&uot; said Whitney, who released Cook after both met with athletic director Robert Raines. &uot;This is a team sport, and that’s what we’ve been trying to get our guys to see all year long. It’s unfortunate things like that happen, but you’ve got to make those decisions. It’s not what you want to do but what you’re forced to do.&uot;
Cook, injured in practice last week, didn’t accompany the Braves on their two-game road trip last week in Alabama after he informed Whitney there was no reason for him to travel since he wasn’t going to play.
Cook had spent time in Whitney’s doghouse this season and received disciplinary action during the Braves’ loss at Louisiana-Lafayette Dec. 16.
The Braves (5-15, 3-5) went on to split the road trip with a win at Alabama A&M and a loss at first-place Alabama State.
&uot;It’s part of life, and things happen,&uot; senior forward Tori Harris said. &uot;We’ve still got a lot of games to play.
We’re still trying to win the SWAC and make the NCAA tournament. It might make us better. He was our main offensive threat, and we’ll be more of a perimeter-oriented team with his departure. Coach always says one guy doesn’t make a team.&uot;
The guy that could make a big difference now is Landfair, a 6-10, 255-pound junior college transfer, has started five games this season and played well in the two games in Alabama, including his 11 boards and nine points against Alabama A&M.;
&uot;It’s just allowing me to play more minutes and get more shot opportunities,&uot; Landfair said. &uot;I’ve got to play better than what I’ve been playing so far this season. I’ve got to pick myself up and play to my potential. I didn’t want that (Cook’s departure) to happen, but we can’t let that affect us. It forces us to play better, and I have to play better.&uot;
Landfair, however, hasn’t given the Braves the scoring contributions as Cook did. Landfair is averaging just three points a game, but defense is more his game &045; he has 16 blocked shots so far and averages 3.5 rebounds a game.
&uot;He’s been playing real well since he’s been inserted into the starting lineup,&uot; Harris said. &uot;He’s got to continue to improve and get better.&uot;
The situation now requires Landfair to play smart on defense and improve his stamina since he’s the only center on the roster. If the Braves get in foul trouble, Whitney will have to go with a three-forward lineup to keep the most height possible on the floor.
&uot;He’s got enough games left to grow into that (position),&uot; Whitney said. &uot;Everybody else will have to step up a little more. He’s a pretty good shooter. He has difficulty getting his shot off, but when he’s open he can hit his shot. The lack of experience has hurt him. He has improved tremendously since he’s been here &045; like night and day.&uot;
Landfair will improve mentally and physically as he gets more reps, Whitney said. He’ll get another shot Saturday when the Braves host Southern, the first of a three-game homestand that comes at a time when they could use some wins.
The Braves can get used to playing with Landfair, too, in this homestand. They had trouble at times on the road trip, including late in the game against Alabama State after playing the Hornets tight in the first half until surrendering a four-point play that turned the game around.
&uot;We never recovered from that,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;Everything went downhill after that. It showed we can play with them. We’ve got to overcome the mental aspect of losing Cook. It has to be a shock to the ball club, but we’ve got to overcome that.&uot;