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Roberts practices as he waits
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Rmun Offline
Bench Warmer

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<a href='http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041026/SPORTS030102/410260333/1025/SPORTS' target='_blank'>http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll...333/1025/SPORTS</a>

Roberts practices as he waits

By Ian R. Rapoport

STARKVILLE — At this point, there is only one thing Lawrence Roberts can do.

Whether the senior begins the season on the floor with his Mississippi State teammates is no longer up to him. That decision rests in the hands of the NCAA.

So the All-America power forward just tries not to think about it.

"Whatever happens now, you can't control it," said Roberts at Monday's Mississippi State basketball preseason media day. "The only thing you can control is going out there and practicing, so that's what I'm going to do."

Roberts awaits a ruling from the NCAA on whether he violated its amateur rules during the summer when he originally entered the NBA Draft. He allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to pay for a plane flight and hotel room for a May 20 private workout. He then returned to college.

According to his mother, Roberts has repaid the money and provided receipts as proof, but the NCAA still has to rule. As outlined in the NCAA's guidelines for reinstatement, Roberts could be suspended for as few as three games or as many as nine.

"It's not an NCAA investigation, it's a situation that has to do with amateurism rules," coach Rick Stansbury said. "Let's hope it's resolved soon. (Possible penalties) would pertain to the first part of the season, if there are any penalties. Who knows?"

One thing Stansbury knows for sure is that the opener on Nov. 11 for the first round of the Coaches vs. Cancer in Birmingham will be played regardless of the status of his team's preseason All-SEC selection.

"I don't know what we'll do for sure (to replace Roberts), but they're not going to cancel those games," Stansbury said. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We're going to have to show up and play."

Roberts was undecided much of the summer about whether or not he would return to MSU. His teammates prepared regardless. They are faced with the same situation now.

"We still have team chemistry, and we still can do well without him," center Marcus Campbell said. "It's just going to be harder."

As for Roberts, he strives to focus despite the distractions that have arisen over the past few weeks.

"The main thing is keeping my head on straight," he said, "and not worrying about what will happen off the court."
10-26-2004 12:52 PM
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