Thompson suspended for truancy (Men’s basketball)

Anthony Tao

While his teammates struggled Saturday to pull down a rebound, Northwestern center Mike Thompson was at home serving a suspension for violating a team policy on attending classes.

Coach Bill Carmody informed the team Wednesday that Thompson had been suspended, NU players said Sunday. The 6-foot-10, 250-pound junior has not practiced with the team since.

NU forward Vedran Vukusic said he was not surprised at the suspension “because of what (Thompson) did.”

“We were (disappointed in him), but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Vukusic said. “It’s his responsibility to take care of (classes) and he didn’t.

“(The suspension) makes sense because you’re a student-athlete. First you’re a student, then you’re an athlete.”

Carmody declined Sunday to say how long Thompson would be out.

Vukusic said the team’s attendance policy required players to attend class, but that it’s harder to enforce for larger lectures.

“Small classes you can’t miss,” he said. “They’re all very important.”

Vukusic added that if players are having trouble in classes, an adviser is available to help.

Vukusic said he last saw Thompson on Friday, before the team left for Penn State. When asked if Thompson had apologized to his teammates, Vukusic said wasn’t aware of any being offered.

With Thompson out, Penn State grabbed 42 rebounds and converted 17 second-chance points, compared to just four for the Cats. Forward Aaron Johnson added to his league-leading rebounding total by pulling down 21, four more than the entire NU team.

“We had no one with us who could stop him,” Carmody said.

He emphasized “with us.”

Sophomore Vince Scott, filling in for Thompson, scored 14 points and hit four 3-point shots. But he was only able to pull down one rebound.

“That’s not a good performance there,” Carmody said about Scott’s inside play. “He has to do more. The biggest guy out there has to get more than one rebound.”

NU forward Davor Duvancic and guard Mohamed Hachad led the Cats with four rebounds each.

Thompson and his team-high 5.3 rebounds per game may have lessened the 42-17 rebounding discrepancy, or at the least given the 6-foot-9, 240-pound Johnson a match down low.

NU guard Michael Jenkins said it was different playing without Thompson and the adjustment wasn’t easy.

“We had been practicing with him and he was in the starting rotation, so being without him, everybody had to adjust a bit to the game,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins added that he did not know whether Thompson would have affected the outcome of Saturday’s game.

“You don’t know,” he said. “I can’t speculate on what would have happened.”

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