Just minutes after learning that a Seattle city attorney had charged Washington guard Venoy Overton with providing alcohol to a minor, coach Lorenzo Romar met with Overton and told him he would not be allowed to play in the Pacific-10 Conference men’s basketball tournament, which begins today in Los Angeles.
“It’s something that’s against what we teach here in our basketball program,” Romar said Tuesday. “... We have not ever said we have saints on our team that don’t make mistakes. We’ve had players make mistakes before, and we have dealt with those.
“I think what’s really important is to make sure there are consequences, but also to change behavior. We have to grow from these things, and we have to learn from these things.”
Overton will not be allowed to play Thursday when the Huskies play Washington State at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Overton also would have to sit out the semifinal game Friday and the championship Saturday, if the Huskies advance.
The case stemmed from an allegation by a 16-year-old girl after an incident at Overton’s sister’s apartment in Seattle on Jan. 8.
Prosecutors say the Franklin High graduate bought alcohol for the teen and her 16-year-old friend.
Overton practiced Tuesday, but was unavailable for comment.
Beyond team punishment, the legal charge is a gross misdemeanor that carries up to a year in jail, though such a punishment is considered extremely unlikely.
Overton is scheduled to appear in Seattle Municipal Court on April 1.
That happens to be one day before the start of this season’s Final Four in Houston.
Romar said Overton will be allowed to return to action if the Huskies advance to the NCAA tournament or any other postseason tournament.
Overton will travel with the team to Los Angeles and continue to practice,
College basketball analysts are divided about whether Washington can get to the NCAA tournament without adding at least one win to its résumé.
And the prospects of that were clouded not only by the discipline against Overton, but also by the news that starting forward Justin Holiday suffered a concussion in the loss to Southern California on Saturday.
Romar said the senior’s availability for Thursday isn’t yet certain.
“He thinks he can play, so I think as a team we’re positive that he’s going to do everything in his power to play this weekend,” senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning said. “But we’ve gone through this before: a lot of injuries happen throughout the course of this season. We just have to try to go out on the court and play with what’s available.”
If Holiday isn’t cleared, Washington will go into the game with just seven scholarship players.
The Huskies also will have no scholarship point guard other than junior Isaiah Thomas, who started this season playing alongside point guard Abdul Gaddy, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Overton.
Thomas, an all-Pac-10 player from Tacoma, said he is ready to do what is necessary.
“I put a lot on my shoulders and a lot of blame goes to me for how we’ve been playing the whole month of February,” Thomas said. “And I’m just ready. ... I’m ready for whatever Coach needs me to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get a win on Thursday.”
Between the injuries, and the off-court issues, and a 4-6 end to the conference season, Romar said this has been the toughest of his nine seasons at Washington.
“You have a certain vision, and you work hard for your program to be a certain way,” he said. “You also want the best for your guys, and if something goes wrong and a guy makes a mistake it’s always a setback. You always hate to see that happen. You make mistakes, and there are consequences to deal with that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports