Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Two Binghamton basketball players were arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, extending the line of bad news to come out of the Bearcat program. Is it too late to put things in order in upstate New York?
Binghamton senior Javon Ralling and incoming freshman Jordan Reed were arrested for disorderly conduct Monday night. Ralling was also hit with a resisting arrest charge.
So continues the line of bad news to come out of the Binghamton basketball program.
Has it been worth it?
Binghamton was a middling program in the SUNYAC conference. It wasn't a dominant name in lower level basketball. It wasn't a school clamoring for Division 1 attention like some of the schools that once dominated on the top level.
It was just in the right part of the country when the top schools in the America East conference bolted for the Colonial Athletic Association. And now it seems to be paying a big price.
The money might have been better in Division 1, but how much money is enough? How much trouble and turmoil is needed before someone admits that the whole experiment has been a bad idea?
Perhaps at the time, the move made sense. Lots of schools made the jump in the early 2000s. The money was too good to not do it.
Former coach Al Walker helped to keep Binghamton competitive after the move, but that wasn't enough. He was basically forced out by people who wanted the university to move too quickly up the ranks. It was a money grab again, especially after a new stadium had been built.
Kevin Broadus was then hired, a coach that according to every source out there had a reputation for making good things out of others castoffs. But he didn't just bring one or two troubled players into Binghamton; he stocked an entire roster with them:
"What's happened there really should come as no surprise to anyone that was in the league or following that league," former Boston University coach Dennis Wolff said. "They were making a recipe for disaster by the way they were going about their business."
"The concept of giving kids transferring in a [scholarship], I don't think anyone's against that," Wolff said. "But the idea that almost every guy that came in had been asked to leave where they had been before, that puts it in a different light in my mind."
The moves have led to disaster after disaster. Point guard Emanuel Maybin, a key piece of the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Bearcats, was arrested for selling cocaine. Multiple players were dismissed from the team for various offenses, including the fabrication of grades.
And eventually Broadus was forced out too.
Things were supposed to changed under Mark Macon, and on the academic side things did improve. But the level of basketball on the court declined quickly. Last year, a team with no seniors managed to win just two games, and were a laughing stock until they somehow tripped up a Vermont team that ended up in the NCAA Tournament.
A highlight, or just a cruel joke?
The newest arrests come at the start of a new regime. It shouldn't be continuing now, more than three years since the first trouble began. So is it too late to save Binghamton?
The roster is depleted again; a wave of transfers made sure of that, including the best player on the team, then-freshman Ben Dickinson (now at Loyola Marymount). Only Robert Mansell and Jimmy Gray offer any semblance of "talent" on the roster. Yes you have to be good to play basketball in Division 1, but every other player still on the roster from last year could actually have been replaced by a random average basketball player, and the team would have played better.
This isn't a team building for the future. This is a team in a perpetual spiral of doom.
I am not sure losing Ralling is such a bad thing in the long run, but to lose a promising freshman in Reed is a poor way to begin the year and a run as head coach.
At some point, someone has to look back and wonder if everything that has happened on the good side -- an NCAA Tournament appearance, and a new arena -- has been worth all the negative press that has come as a result. This is not saying that teams haven't come back from worse situations (Baylor anyone?). It just seems that Binghamton can't find a way to put the brakes on it.
When trouble continues to find a team no matter who the coach in charge seems to be, it becomes hard to forget the past. I wouldn't want to be new coach Tommy Dempsey, who has to be seeing his career flash in front of his eyes.
Binghamton appears to be too far gone to salvage as a Division 1 basketball program at this point. Maybe it is time to put the whole thing into reverse and go back to obscurity at a lower level, one where all the sins of the past can be buried and forgotten for good.