Junior guard Desjuan Newton has not left the Robert Morris basketball team and said that his absence has been due to what he described as personal matters that he's "figuring out," he told the Post-Gazette Sunday.
Newton said that his time away from the Colonials has nothing to do with the team. A junior-college transfer in his first season with the team, Newton has not appeared in a game since a Dec. 22 loss to Oakland and was not on the team's bench for the past four games.
He did not rule out a possible return, but he noted that decision will not come until he ultimately figures things out.
“It’s still a possibility for sure, but we’ll see," Newton said. "Right now, I can’t really call it like ‘I’m going to play with the team right now’ or ‘No, I’m not going to play with the team.’ Right now, I’m just trying to get things figured out.
"If I play with them, I’ll play. If I don’t, then I’m going to cheer. By me not playing with them does not mean I’m not on the team. If [head coach Andy] Toole tells me I’m not on the team, then we’ll go from there, but he hasn’t said anything to me.”
In 12 games this season, the Seattle native averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Newton reiterated that his absence has not had anything to do with any sort of lack of cooperation between him and the team's coaches. Simply, Toole has granted him permission to sit out while he figures out the personal matters.
Due to the indefinite suspension of four team members, the Colonials have played the past two games with just eight players. Even in those circumstances, Newton said he has felt no pressure from coaches to come to a decision and play.
“They haven’t really approached me about it and I haven’t really approached them about it because at the end of the day – no matter if they’ve got eight guys or five guys – we’re most definitely in condition to run," Newton said. "We’ve got the right guys out there and they’re ready to go to war.”
During his absence, Newton said he's been in touch with assistant coach Tim Lawrence and while he said there is no timetable on a possible decision, he's more than likely going to talk with Toole "soon" to get the final say on what's going on.
“We’ve still got jobs to do," Newton said. "I’ve got to focus on school and making sure I make the right decisions for me. He still has to focus on the eight guys he does have and make sure we continue to get wins.”
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