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What happens next for Delaware?

March 9, 2015 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments
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BALTIMORE – What now?

That’s probably the simplest, but also the most wide-ranging, question. There are lots of questions, actually, and no answers at the moment. There is lots of speculation, some of it even of the well-reasoned variety, but no clarity for now.

What happens to Monte Ross? What will Delaware look like next year and beyond, not only on the bench, but on the court? Why has it come to this? When will we know?

There are facile answers to each, but they are unsatisfying. There is much more to come.

Delaware’s 67-64 loss to Northeastern on Saturday night in the CAA Tournament ended their 2014-15 season. That much we know. We also know they finish with a 10-20 record, but that means they were .500 after they started the season losing ten in a row, the first seven coming without their senior all-conference guard.

Now? We don’t know, other than there will be no postseason play.

We know that Ross’ contract is up sometime before next season. We know that he and athletic director Eric Ziady – the third AD Ross has worked for – have not been able to agree on a new contract since the end of last season. The story has been around and gained a lot of legs over the course of the season, and it’s been in the background that this team has had to play with this season. It’s one more thing they have had to overcome.

At this point, Ross and the staff will approach things the way they have all year – come in and do their job, new contract or not. It’s how they got this young team to grow through the rough start and the back story that they know about, probably a lot more than they would comment on publicly.

“I have to, unless somebody tells me differently,” Ross said. “I owe it to these guys to have a normal off-season in terms of workouts, in terms of making sure academics are straight. I’ll do my job until somebody tells me, ‘Your services are no longer needed.'”

The fact that Ross hasn’t received an extension and just completed a 10-20 season, along with Ziady being on the job for less than three years, all leads one to think Ross’ days there are numbered, especially in a time when athletic directors aren’t being patient with coaches. Some thought a miracle run to another championship this weekend might save his job; that’s anyone’s guess and we’ll never know for sure.

If Ross is let go, what happens to the roster? Kyle Anderson, Kory Holden and Ross all expressed a lot of hope for the future after Saturday’s game. Anyone who’s seen this team this year can see the potential they have, as they lose just Anderson and Tom Allshouse as graduating seniors. Anderson’s loss will be significant, but not one that can’t be overcome. Will they all return for a new coach? It’s easy to think they won’t, and that there might even be a mass exodus, but no one knows that.

Redshirt junior forward Marvin King-Davis has gone on the record to tell the Wilmington News Journal that he will leave and be eligible via the graduate transfer exception next year. You have to think others could leave as well, as often happens when there’s a coaching change. But we just don’t know. Someone could leave even if Ross gets a new deal.

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of support expressed publicly for Ross. There were signs in the crowd on Saturday expressing that support, with Ziady in the building. That support may help, but it may not. Athletic directors get paid a lot of money to make decisions that include who leads a program, and not all of the decisions are popular.

Why it has come to this is something only Ross and Ziady can answer. In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll find out answers to most of these questions. How the team on the floor looks will likely take longer to answer. Right now, it’s a waiting game of sorts, one with lots of questions and no clear answers.

We just don’t know.

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