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Published: Monday, 2/8/2010

Rockets' Lo watches, plays waiting game

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

He sat in the last row of the student section on the north side of Savage Arena on Saturday night, watching his teammates take on Buffalo.

It was an uncomfortable position for Mouhamed Lo to be in, but one he's growing more familiar with after each passing day.

University of Toledo coach Gene Cross suspended the 6-foot-8 junior forward for unspecified disciplinary reasons Jan. 26, and since then Lo has been persona non grata with the men's basketball program.

But that hasn't stopped Lo from attending the Rockets' home games, albeit as a spectator, and envisioning the day when he can be back on the floor with them.

The 11 days away from basketball have humbled Lo and caused him to develop a new appreciation for the game he loves.

"I'm just serving my punishment for what I did," said Lo, one of only two juniors on UT's senior-less roster. "I take responsibility for everything that happened. The reason why I'm suspended is all my fault, so all the blame is on me."

Lo added that he and Cross still talk often.

"He calls me every day to check on me and stuff," Lo said. "He's just making sure I'm doing the right things to get back on the team. That's about it.

"Whatever they tell me to do, that's what I'll do."

Cross has not disclosed why he suspended Lo, nor has he publicly laid out the terms of his reinstatement.

Lo also declined to discuss the specifics of his suspension.

"I really don't want to get into details of what happened," Lo said. "It's an inside-the-team thing, so I just want to leave it at that."

Nevertheless, a person with knowledge of Lo's transgressions confirmed to The Blade that an altercation between Lo and freshman captain Jake Barnett occurred during the Rockets' shootaround before the Jan. 26 game against Kent State.

In addition, several other factors allegedly were involved with Cross' decision to levy a suspension, including Lo's absence at mandatory study sessions and insubordination to the coaching staff.

Before his suspension, Lo was averaging 6.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and a team-best 0.68 blocks per game.

As for when he might be back is anybody's guess.

"There's no timeline for his return," Cross said after the Rockets' 65-59 loss to Buffalo on Saturday night, which extended their school-record losing streak to 14 games.

"We're working through it with Mouhamed. I talked to him this morning, and we're working through the suspension.

"There is a chance [he may return this season], but there could be a chance that he might not be back this season. It depends."

From Lo's perspective, it's only a matter of time until he dons a midnight blue and gold jersey again.

"I think it's a very good possibility I'll be back this season," Lo said.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com.



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