Friday, April 22, 2011

IU Suspends Willis; Zeller Stands Out

Violence against women can’t be tolerated. Arguments happen and passions flare, but that is no excuse. You walk away. No matter what.

That, in the end, is the lesson with Darius Willis, the talented Indiana tailback who has been suspended for a game next season. The specific game wasn’t listed and the public reason, as released by the university, was as simple as it was vague:

Suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

And one final thing -– There will be no further comment on this matter.

Here’s what we know. In Decemeber a 21-year-old female IU student said Willis choked her, pushed her onto his bed and threw her across the room. The two had a relationship. The student did not press charges, but did apply for a protective order. The judged granted it for six months. It will expire at the end of August.

Exactly what happened, or at least Willis’ side of the story, is unknown. He hasn’t been available to the media and hasn’t released any statement. He hasn’t been charged with a crime. Maybe he’s innocent. Maybe not. Still, the judge heard enough to decide a protective order was necessary. And that basically mandated that coach Kevin Wilson do something. Again, violence against women –- or any person –- cannot be tolerated.

Wilson has talked about doing things the right way, and he seems a man of his word. Figure if Wilson’s actions had been clear cut – as in charged and found guilty of violence, his IU career would have been over. The one-game suspension reflects the uncertainty about what actually happened.

It would make sense to suspend Willis for the Sept. 3 season opener against Ball State, but we’ll have to see. Willis missed spring practice while recovering from last fall’s knee surgery. The junior is expected to be ready for the upcoming season.

Willis played in just four games last season and rushed for 278 yards while averaging 4.3 yards a carry. He led IU with 607 rushing yards as a freshman.

Willis has the potential to be a big-time player for the Hoosiers, but he has to stay healthy, play to his potential handle himself appropriately on and off the field.

Can he do all that?

It’s up to him.


Cody Zeller continues to show why he’s one of the best players in the country. Case in point: his 16 points and team-high nine rebounds as his Gold team beat the White team 126-122 in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic. He was named Gold team MVP.

Teammate Austin Etherington, like Zeller a member of IU’s Class of 2011 set to arrive on campus this summer, only had two points on 1-for-7 shooting. However, he did finish second in the three-point competition.

The game was full of superstar recruits, including Branden Dawson (heading to Michigan State), Aaron Cosby (Seton Hall), LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State), Deuce Bello (Baylor), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State) and Angel Nunez (Oklahoma State). Nash is considered the nation’s No. 4 player in the Class of 2011 by Dawson, who is from Gary, Ind., is rated No. 13.

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