Let’s update this morning’s post about what Matt Painter should do with guard D.J. Byrd and his public intox arrest, shall me?
A lot’s happened in the past few hours.
Within the last hour it was announced that Byrd has been suspended one game, meaning he will miss this weekend’s very, very important game against Michigan State. What was not known this morning when the story broke was that Byrd was far from the only Boiler involved in last night’s campus festivities.
Kelsey Barlow, who was suspended before last year’s NCAA Tournament, was dismissed from Purdue’s basketball team in the aftermath of Byrd’s arrest.
Here at Matt Painter’s comments, via The Purdue Exponent:
“This is an unfortunate situation, but we will move forward as a program,” Painter said. “We expect our student-athletes to live up to a high standard, and when their actions become detrimental to the program, there are consequences.”
D.J. Byrd's mugshot (via Lafayette JC)
As for what happened last night that led to today’s Mackey Madness, here as an account from the Lafayette Journal-Courier:
Sparger said Barlow had been at Where Else earlier but either left or got kicked out of the business. Barlow then came back, believing he left his wallet there. Where Else, however, refused to let him back in.
Barlow left and returned later accompanied by Byrd, teammate Robbie Hummel and other members of the basketball team. This resulted in some type of confrontation, during which Byrd is suspected of hitting a bouncer, Sparger said.
Byrd’s arrest on suspicion of public intoxication came when an Indiana State Police trooper happened to be driving by, Sparger said. Byrd was the only person involved in the disturbance who was arrested.
So, let’s quickly analyze the carnage.
First off, as I mentioned this morning, losing Byrd for Sunday’s home game against Michigan State hurts a lot. Purdue is still likely to be in the NCAA Tournament, but they are far from a lock. Byrd has been in double digits in Purdue’s last five games, including 20 or more in two of their last three. Against one of Tom Izzo’s best defensive teams of the last several years, Byrd’s confident stroke could certainly have helped.
Assuming Purdue loses to the Spartans, which was probable even with Byrd, they still have opportunities against Michigan and Indiana to get wins over ranked teams beef up the March resume.
But now not only is Purdue losing Byrd for a game, but Barlow as well – and for the rest of the season. And while Barlow may have been knucklehead off the court, he was an important role player for this team on it.
Not only does Barlow have the athletic ability to author dunks like this over All Big Ten players, he was one of the Purdue’s top rebounders and had picked up his scoring – pouring in double digits in three of the last four games. Purdue will now have to face the rest of the their schedule without him; and with a roster devoid of impact players this year, that hurts.
When Matt Painter turned down the Missouri job to stay at Purdue, I am quite sure he did not have this in mind for his first season post-contract extension, but I commend him for handling this the right way.
He gave Barlow another chance, but the kid blew it. I have not seen one Purdue fan arguing against his dismissal. Not only does his dismissal seem justified based on what I’ve read of the situation, but it’s a stand Painter had to take for the integrity of the program moving forward.
As for Byrd, now that the details are out about the night, his one-game suspension seems more than justified as well. If he hit a bouncer and was so intoxicated as to be noticed by a passing state trooper, Painter really doesn’t have much of a choice no matter what circumstance brought Byrd to the bar in the first place. And at a minimum, Painter has to show the rest of the current and future players that such capricious stupidity – being drunk in public at 3:00 am during the season, regardless of circumstance and age – won’t be tolerated.
Hopefully Byrd learns from the situation and is better for it. Again, it’s not a blight on his character, just a blight on his judgment and perhaps maturity.
And Byrd better be ready to catch all kinds of grief in opposing arenas. When your last name is Byrd and you spend any amount of time in jail, well, you really make it too easy for opposing student sections.
It will be interesting to see what this does to Purdue. Situations like these can drive teams apart or they can bring them closer together. But can a team like Purdue, clearly in a transition year this year, compensate for the loss of one of its most all-around talented players? We’ll see. They’ve got to keep it together if they want to give Robbie Hummel one final chance to dance in March.
For more thoughts, Travis over at Hammer and Rails has a few.