Notes: Ken Brown suspended indefinitely for ‘serious’ violation of team rules

Head Coach Ken McDonald told the media on Friday that junior guard Ken Brown has been suspended indefinitely for a ‘serious’ violation of team rules. That leaves WKU with two point guards — sophomore Jamal Crook and freshman walk-on Mike Gabbard.

Zach Greenwell

WKU has been trying to find consistency at the point guard position all season, but it’ll now have to press on without junior Ken Brown for the foreseeable future.

Head Coach Ken McDonald announced Friday that Brown has been suspended indefinitely from the program for a violation of team rules.

McDonald said the suspension began Friday and described the violation in question as “serious.”

“It’s not completely moving on, but it’s very serious,” he said. “That’s really all I have right now. I can’t talk about specifics, but it’s serious in nature. We continue to talk about the standards that we have for our student-athletes and living up to them.

“These guys aren’t perfect, but they have to show improvement and try do what we’re asking.”

The suspension leaves the Toppers (4-5) with just two point guards on roster — sophomore Jamal Crook and freshman walk-on Mike Gabbard.

McDonald said each will have to step up, and some other players may have to switch to a more point-oriented role.

“It gives other guys opportunities, to be honest,” he said. “It’s disappointing that you have to deal with it any time in the middle of the season, but it’s going to make us stronger in the long run because other guys have to step up.”

Crook played just seven minutes against Bowling Green State Wednesday and hasn’t started since the Davidson game.

McDonald said Crook’s limited minutes weren’t a result of his previous hamstring injury, but a lack of confidence.

“I want more aggression level out of him on both the defensive and offensive end without the careless turnovers,” McDonald said. “We’re searching for that guy and that consistency at the point. I want some body language out there of somebody with some confidence.

“I’ve never lacked confidence in Jamal, but when you see it on the court, and he’s looking not confident, I can’t keep him in the game in those kinds of situations.”

Senior strides

Coming off a sloppy 59-52 win over BGSU — after which McDonald said WKU “dodged a bullet” — he said he met exclusively with the seniors Thursday to talk about the direction of the season.

“We had a great talk about all the different things that go into a new basketball team with seven new guys, different mentalities and different backgrounds,” he said. “We just had to put a lot of stuff on the table. We had a good healthy discussion about where we’re at, where we want to be, and most importantly, how do we get there?”

McDonald said that discussion transformed into a team-only meeting, which was spearheaded by the four seniors.

He said the seniors are a good representation of the personalities that have to gel on the team.

McDonald said Steffphon Pettigrew is not outspoken, which clashes at times with the outgoing personalities of Juan Pattillo and Sergio Kerusch. He said you then have to add in the dynamic of Cliff Dixon, who’s made a “180 turnaround” from last season in terms of effort.

“Any team, when new guys are coming into the fold, I think they have to like each other and play for each other,” McDonald said. “We do have a lot of different personalities on this team.

“The seniors have to get themselves consistent and right. I think that’ll trickle down into the team.”

McDonald said he also spoke individually Thursday with Kerusch, who did not start against BGSU and played just six minutes in the first half.

McDonald said after the game that Kerusch had been practicing poorly, but he said Friday that both got a lot off their chests during their meeting and resolved several issues.

“I’ve never lost faith in Sergio being a huge part of our success in our program,” he said. “He was down on the fact that he couldn’t be out there more the other day, and we talked specifically about what my expectations were for him and what they continue to be, and he handled it like a true senior would.

“It’s good to get stuff out sometimes that builds up over time. We had a good talk, and he got right back on track with a good practice yesterday.”

Salukis up next

Amidst all the off-the-court developments Friday, it was easy to forget that WKU has a basketball game Saturday.

That’s when Southern Illinois (5-4) rolls into town for a 1 p.m. tip in Diddle Arena.

“I think this is going to be a very physical basketball game,” McDonald said. “I think their strengths right now are probably from the sheer size advantage they have. They have young, developing talent that is getting better over the last couple years.”

The Salukis have three players who average just over 10 points per game, led by senior forward Carlton Ray.

They’ve been led in scoring by seven different players in their nine games this season.

McDonald said Southern Illinois will live up to the tough, scrappy reputation it’s had for quite some time, and that the game will likely come down to a “war in the paint.”

The Salukis start four players 6 foot 4 inches or taller.

“Their physical, their talented, and I think they have a toughness about them that’s kind of been their identity since I’ve known about Southern Illinois,” McDonald said. “This is a good series for us … to see where we’re at on the interior. This should be a good one.”