Just a rumor, or excellent cover-up work?
According to those associated with the Quinnipiac Men’s Basketball team, Collin Charles never left. There were mumblings around campus that the fan favorite, a senior transfer student from St. John’s University, quit the team after an on-the-court dispute with Head Coach Joe DeSantis.
The “confrontation” occurred during the first half of an 83-75 loss to St. Francis University on January 27 at Burt Kahn Court.
Charles played only one minute in the game before walking off the court and disappearing into the locker room for the remainder of the contest. It was something that many fans in attendance took note of and interpreted differently.
“From where I was standing, it seemed as if DeSantis was yelling something and Collin just ignored him,” junior Jason Roy said. “Then I saw DeSantis point toward the locker room and Collin just got up and left the gymnasium.”
Junior Justin Mandese remembered it being more confrontational.
“Collin threw his cup of water down on the floor and stared at Coach DeSantis,” he said. “The Coach then screamed for Collin to leave the court and head back to the locker room.”
With different renditions of the incident circulating campus, DeSantis was quick to cut the cord on this game of telephone.
“There was no confrontation,” he said. “So you are wrong there.”
Charles was unavailable for comment on the matter.
Despite an adamant denial by DeSantis, fans still believe that there is more to the story. At one point, former Quinnipiac star Nate Pondexter left his seat at the scorer’s table to head to the locker room to presumably talk to Charles. Some were convinced that Charles decided to leave the team on a permanent basis.
“I had never really seen a player just leave the floor unless he was hurt,” Roy said. “It seemed a little obvious that he was quitting the team.”
It was just as obvious that something was missing from the Braves’ arsenal, as the team couldn’t hold onto a 42-37 lead at halftime. Aside from Charles’ conspicuous absence, Quinnipiac was also without junior point guard, Jared Grasso (strained back), who had started all 71 games in his collegiate career. In addition, they lost the explosive senior forward Alphah East who was disqualified when he was charged with his second technical foul for hanging on the rim.
Those that did participate included junior guard Kareem Lee who led the team with 16 points and sophomore forward Vernon Thompson with 14. However, it wasn’t enough to combat an 8-0 run by St. Francis with 10:27 remaining. The Terriers also hit 5-of-6 foul shots to help preserve the victory.
With the loss, the Braves fell to 4-13 overall and 1-9 in the NEC. St. Francis won their eighth straight to improve to 11-7, and 10-1 in the NEC – good for first place in the conference.
Many of the 1,144 Quinnipiac faithful in attendance wondered if the team stood a better chance with #44 on the floor.
“Without Collin Charles, this team loses plenty of speed and quickness,” junior Cliff Bajor said. “They can still play without him, but they lose a key component when he isn’t out there.”
The Braves were without his services once again when they faced Long Island University two days later at Burt Kahn Court. Quinnipiac dropped the game 76-71 in front of some curious spectators. Talk of Charles quitting the team for good buzzed throughout the stands, but DeSantis had another explanation for his absence.
“From what I understand, he decided to take a couple of days off,” he said.
Supporting DeSantis’s word, Collin was back in practice following the LIU game. He scored 11 points and pulled down 5 boards in only 19 minutes of play against Mount St. Mary’s on Feb. 2. DeSantis decided to go with a younger unit on the floor in an attempt to build for the future and find the right match-ups for that particular day.
“I try and go with what team is right for that game,” he said. “We have two talented freshmen in Rashaun Banjo and Kason Mims. As you head down the stretch, you like to see them get better and I think that’s been the case.”
With 7 games to go and Charles back in the line-up, DeSantis believes in his squad and feels that with some good fortune, anything can happen.
“Just a couple of lucky bounces, maybe some made baskets at the end,” he said. “I think we are struggling down the stretch to make the right play. It gets frustrating when you are not playing up to your capability. But the effort of my guys is as good as it was when we were 18-10 last year.”
They earned that mark without Charles in the line-up as he sat out the 1999-2000 season due to the NCAA transfer rule – he did practice with the team though.
There is still speculation as to whether his quitting was just rumored or covered up to perfection, but there is no question that Charles will be with the team the rest of the way.