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UI’s Watson suspended for tweets

By Josh Wright The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho — In his two years as a member of the University of Idaho men’s basketball team, Kashif Watson has been known for his chatty, gregarious demeanor.

That same expressiveness comes through in his Twitter feed – and ultimately led to his indefinite suspension Friday for “conduct detrimental to the program,” according to a UI news release.

Twice after recent losses Watson wrote critical Twitter posts apparently directed toward coach Don Verlin. Last weekend, the senior guard asked how the team was supposed to win with “this guy coachin us.”

A week earlier, Watson expressed similar frustration. “Wow just don’t gett this guys mind set, it’s like some times he don’t wanna win that bad!!”

Watson, a junior-college transfer from Las Vegas and the Vandals’ second leading scorer, banked in a 60-foot shot at the halftime buzzer Thursday night in Idaho’s win over San Jose State, garnering attention from ESPN’s SportsCenter.

After the game, Verlin told The Spokesman-Review that he wasn’t aware of Watson’s Twitter account and would not comment until he sees it.

In the release sent Friday, Verlin did not specify that Watson’s suspension came because of the Twitter posts. But Watson confirmed the reason with afternoon updates to his feed on the social media site.

“Wow can’t play my last game due to some real comments on twitter,” he wrote.

Verlin said in the release that Watson’s status will be revisited before the WAC tournament that opens Thursday in Reno, Nev.

“Kashif’s suspension is a matter that he must work through in order to be reinstated for practice and play,” Verlin said.

Asked about his posts following Thursday night’s game, Watson said there has been “a little bickering” in the locker room and questioning of how things have been handled. But he contended that the discontent hasn’t affected the team.

“It’s a lot of frustration for our seniors,” Watson said. “We know we came out last year with a big season so it’s just frustrating to come out … and have another season like this.”

Later, he added: “Some things … could be handled differently. But it’s all right, though. We’re taking care of it. We’re still playing hard.”

Coming off last year’s surprising third-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference, the Vandals returned a strong core of seniors and added high-profile transfer Steffan Johnson. They were expected to make an even stronger push this season.

But UI lost six straight conference games in January to fall out of contention and will either be the seventh or eighth seed in the eight-team WAC tourney.

Verlin has publicly questioned the seniors’ leadership twice after games this season, and he said in a radio interview after losing at Nevada that certain players on the team were hard to coach.

The Vandals (14-15, 5-10 in the WAC) finish the regular season this evening versus Hawaii. It’s unknown if Watson will be honored along with four other seniors in a pregame ceremony.

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