'They didn't take care of business'
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois coach Bruce Weber has benched two players for the first two games of the season and a third for four games for violating unspecified team rules.
Junior Luther Head and redshirt freshman Aaron Spears already had sat out Illinois' two exhibition games, so their suspensions will total four games, Weber said Wednesday. Freshman Richard McBride's suspension will begin with Saturday's season opener against Western Illinois.
Weber refused to discuss the rules violations in specific terms.
``They didn't take care of business like we would want them to represent the University of Illinois and they are going to have to pay the price,'' he said.
The three players have been told not to talk to reporters during their suspensions. All three can practice and will dress for games, Weber said.
``They're still part of our team,'' he said.
Weber said he wants to make sure the players understand that they are closely watched and are held to a high standard of accountability.
Head, a guard, averaged 8.0 points last season as a reserve. He missed seven games because of a groin injury.
Spears, a forward, played in the first six games last season before tearing knee ligaments in practice. He was granted a medical redshirt last season to preserve his four years of eligibility.
McBride, a guard, scored eight points in the Illini's first exhibition game. He missed the second because of a sore foot.
``They understand [the benching],'' Weber said. ``They're hurting more than anybody. I know Luther is taking it very hard.''
Head and Spears will miss home games against Western Illinois on Saturday and Mercer next Wednesday. McBride, assuming his injury heals by Saturday, would also miss upcoming games at Temple and North Carolina.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press