Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson announced on Tuesday that the team’s leading scorer, Anthony James, will be suspended due to repeated violations of team rules and athletic department policies.
The senior guard averaged 12.5 points per game last season and is expected to once again be an important factor in the Panthers quest to compete with Creighton atop the Missouri Valley Conference.
Jacobson announced a three-game suspension for James, meaning that the 6-foot guard will miss the Panthers’ contests against Wartburg, Toledo, and North Dakota to open up the season.
Northern Iowa shouldn’t have much trouble with any of their first three opponents despite beginning the season without James. However, following their contest against North Dakota, the Panthers travel to the Bahamas as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis, where their first tournament opponent is Louisville. James will be back for the game against the Cardinals, but it will be interesting to see how he will respond after missing the first three games. UNI will have no wiggle room for error against one of the nation’s top teams.
The Battle 4 Atlantis will provide UNI will three opportunities at non-conference, resume-boosting chances, but James will need to be ready to go, both physically and mentally, if the Panthers look to make an early statement. The MVC has continuously emerged as a multi-bid threat in recent years and the 2012-13 season should be no different.
James struggled in the Panthers’ final three games last season, collecting only 12 combined points while shooting just 4-of-21 from the field.
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