Northwestern announced Friday that junior guard JerShon Cobb has been suspended for the entire 2012-13 basketball season for violating team policy.
In a press release posted to NUSports.com late Friday afternoon, Northwestern basketball head coach Bill Carmody said, “There are standards that each student-athlete is expected to uphold. JerShon has our complete support as he works to fufill those expectations and we look forward to having him rejoin the program in a full capacity in the future.”
The release did not specify which policies Cobb violated nor when the violations occurred, but the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein reported on Twitter that the violations were not of criminal nature, according to a Northwestern source with knowledge of the suspension.
Cobb, a Weinberg student, will remain enrolled at Northwestern and will still have two years of athletic eligibility once the suspension is lifted, according to the release.
The loss of Cobb is certainly costly for the Wildcats, but it is not devastating thanks to the team’s depth at guard and experience playing without Cobb without that depth. He missed 12 games last season with a hip injury but proved to be a valuable asset on both sides of the ball as soon as he rejoined the team in mid-February against Minnesota.
Defensively, there were few Wildcats as good as Cobb, who has as many steals as sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski (29) in almost one-third as many minutes (1163 vs. 428). Carmody even charged Cobb with stealing an inbounds pass away from former Ohio State center Jared Sullinger in the final play of Northwestern’s 75-73 loss to #10 Ohio State last February.
Offensively, Cobb took a little while to heat up once he returned, but put up huge numbers in games against Minnesota (24 pts.) and Akron (19 pts.) toward the end of the season and averaged 18.7 ppg from March 3-13.
While the loss of Cobb will certainly hamper the Wildcats this season, the backcourt depth the team still has in senior guards Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotulio, Sobolewski, and redshirt freshman Tre Demps will help offset the full force of the suspension. Cobb was not a sure starter, but his absence will clinch a starting role for Hearn, prevent Demps from resting Sobolewski at point guard and give Marcotulio more starts and minutes off the bench than he would have been given otherwise.
It can be argued that a healthy Cobb would have sent Northwestern to the NCAA tournament last season. While the team is certainly deeper now than last year despite the loss of John Shurna, losing Cobb this season may just leave Wildcat fans asking “What if?” in the NIT if things don’t pan out as they should.