This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

When it rains, it pours: Al Nolen out, Royce White charged

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under Gophers players Updated: January 22, 2010 - 6:05 PM

Just received word that Royce White has been charged with three counts of misdemeanor trespassing in connection with the theft of a laptop in a university dormitory in November. White's lawyer, F. Clayton Tyler, said he intends to move up White's court date, which is currently scheduled for early February.

White, who returned to practice for the first time in months earlier this week, was suspended indefinitely following a series of legal troubles, including a December guilty plea to theft and disorderly conduct after an October incident at the Mall of America.

But a person familiar with the situation said White "earned" the opportunity to come back to the team earlier this week, after getting one of the highest GPA's on the team.

I don't know much more about White's situation other than the fact that he's been charged with a couple of misdemeanors in the laptop case. Check StarTribune.com for more details throughout the day.

-Here's the university's official statement on the latest development with White: 

"University of Minnesota athletics department officials received word Friday afternoon that freshman forward Royce White, who has yet to play for the Gopher men’s basketball team, has been charged with three counts of misdemeanor trespassing.

"According to Director of Athletics Joel Maturi the new information does not alter White’s status with the program.

"Maturi said that White remains suspended from competition and travel but is allow to practice with the team at the discretion of head coach Tubby Smith. Maturi added that any change to his standing with the program would be made at a later date."
 

-During Friday morning's media availability session, Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith confirmed what Gophers supporters feared. Starting point guard Al Nolen's out and there's no timetable for a return.

"We'll be without Al Nolen because of his academic deficiencies and his ineligibility, but I think for the most part we've had a pretty good week of practice," Smith said.

In Friday's Star Tribune, I wrote that Nolen's appealed his ineligibility through an NCAA process termed a "progress-toward-degree waiver."

Judging by Smith's responses to questions about Nolen, who was ruled academically ineligible on the first day of spring semester Tuesday, and others I talked to at Williams Arena, there's not a lot of optimism about Nolen's potential return.

Smith said Devoe Joseph will start at point guard and the Gophers will maintain their three-guard lineup.

When asked about Nolen's academic progress, Smith placed the blame on the junior, who's averaged 6.7 points, 4.6 assists and 2.39 steals (Big Ten leader) per game this season.

"When I knew, it doesn't matter," Smith said. "He's the one going to school. He's the one getting an education. It's like I heard a coach say a long time ago, you want everybody to get a degree. I can't get it for him. They've got to do it themselves. Unfortunately, when you get to be a junior, you would think you'd understand that."

Players weren't surprised by the news. Senior co-captain Damian Johnson said the team has been preparing to play without Nolen "for awhile."

It's a tough time for any team to lose a starter. We'll see how the Gophers adjust in the biggest game of the year against Michigan State Saturday morning at Williams Arena.

Nolen was not made available to the media.

-White practiced with the team again Friday, a sign that he's here to stay. Smith said he's won't play Saturday but didn't elaborate on the freshman forward's playing status or indefinite suspension. Johnson said White hasn't "lost a step," even though he hadn't practiced with the team for two months before returning earlier this week.

-Johnson said he has torn ligaments in his right thumb but will continue to play through the injury. Smith called him a "gamer."

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