Monday, March 18, 2013

A disturbing senior moment

It was a game having zero effect in the conference standings and eventually became a 90-67 Senior Night loss. Yet the two remaining elder statesman on the San Jose State University men's basketball team were dishonored for fulfilling their commitment during trying times as neither was named a starter.

It's a basketball tradition to have your seniors among the opening five, even if for just a minute or two.

Regardless of convention, it's simply the right thing to do.

That is, if it's about the student-athletes.

We're not talking canonization or entrance to Mount Olympus yet LaVanne Pennington and Aalim Moor were denied this basic acknowledgement.

This despite their demonstrated loyalty, two years for Pennington, four from Moor.

Why did this not happen?

Both were certainly highly lauded at the time of their respective signings.

From Spartan athletics: "Lavanne is an active, high energy scoring guard-wing with good size. He plays with an edge and brings great intensity to both ends of the floor. Lavanne has D-I experience and was a major factor in Barstow JC's rise this season."

Also from Spartan athletics: "Aalim is a traditional point guard. He is a ‘table-setter’ and, definitely, a playmaker. His teams have had tremendous success,” the San Jose State coach states about Moor who was the catalyst for his team’s 2008 run to the California Division IV state championship game. Moor, who received recruiting inquiries from Pacific, USF, Santa Clara and San Diego, also has club experience playing for the Bay Area Hoosiers AAU team."

So on a foundation of these accolades, it was enduring losing seasons yet maintaining a positive personal spirit and insisting upon a team camaraderie amidst other players either quitting or misbehaving. From former Spartan Adrian Oliver on Instagram:

In the end, it became role models being snubbed.

The ultimate team-first guys were delivered the message that loyalty was directionally impaired.

It was an opportunity to dramatically underline that the chaos reaped for not performing in the classroom, misbehaving out of it and the sporting of me-me-me attitudes would be publicly shamed, with conscientiousness rewarded.

But the duo maintained regardless, displaying an integrity lacking in their adult mentors.

Moor and Pennington deserved better. In a fair and just world, a much more worthier Spartan experience hoops should and would have been theirs.

However, do not consider this a request for any sort of Senior Night favoritism.

In fact, it's just the opposite.

It's a call for rewarding behaviors and actions that rep San Jose State University in the brightest light possible.

Call it a sadly missed opportunity.

 "Last time ima wear this, last game home as a D1 hooper. Ups and downs, smiles and frowns..."


Even during that final home game, it was a case of WTF.

Zeroing in on Moor, he played well against Texas San Antonio. Momentum was generated when he was in the game. But just as swiftly as impetus was provided, out came the hook, regardless of rhyme or reason, and back to the bench he went.

Reaching further backwards, on January 19 at New Mexico State, the Spartans lost again but he played strong:  ...Moor scored a career-best nine points on 4-of-5 shooting including his first made three-pointer of the year, had a block and a steal in 14 minutes of action...

He elicited this praise from his head coach: "..."Aalim really sparked us with confidence and poise.  I am really proud of the way he is handling his senior year.  He is a positive force on our team, and I am happy with the way he played and defended tonight."

January 24 was the next game versus league-leading Louisiana Tech and Moor's effort in another defeat produced this headline "More Than Moor Needed In 76-54 Loss To LA Tech" as he totaled a career-high 14 points on 6-12 shooting.

This is a young man who committed to San Jose State University and not in the "well, I guess I'll settle for SJSU," like some others who then demonstrated their half-hearted pledge through their behavior.

What he desired in an all-around college experience was met. It became something even deeper. Becoming an outright San Jose State University acolyte and an always positive ambassador was the road he traveled and the role he embraced.

Moor could have gone elsewhere prior to the tales that led him to Washington Square. Even after settling in, other suitors continued to call upon him.

But he became connected, maybe even more so off the basketball court. San Jose is his adopted community and Moor plans to stay here.

He is a proud Spartan student/athlete - soon-to-graduate - who to this day and extending forever will honor his alma mater by telling would-be students 'you will learn what you need to be successful there.'

Every summer (do check out this video link and then this link to the written article), Moor worked like the devil was two steps behind him to better his game and physicality. He returned improved. Whether opportunity would be allowed or not, this was another of his contributions because only the hardest workers can be positive examples and call out their teammate kin when necessary.

That was recognized by his teammates. They understood how hard he worked and how he brought value regardless of setting foot on the court. Moor was the most engaged player regardless of the minutes next to his name in the box score. He earned their respect.

Moor was honored with a Team Leadership award at a team dinner and awards ceremony in Adrian Oliver's senior season

My first recollection of Moor? It was in a gym in Las Vegas five years ago. What made him stand out as a member of the Bay Area Hoosiers club team was his court vision and basketball IQ. In that game, he threw passes to where he wanted his teammates to be -- passes that put them in position for layups and open shots. He didn't put the ball where they were initially but the spot they needed to get to in order to succeed. It was a remarkable display of ball wizardry but, even more so, leadership.

But the latter was evident way back in high school.

His goal is to enter graduate school at San Jose State University upon finishing with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Business in May. Will the next coach utilize him as both a role model and teacher by having him on the staff as a graduate assistant?

Yes, if a smart and opportunistic move is desired. Class requires classy actions.

Meanwhile, let's never forget this image because he will never let down San Jose State University -- he's Spartan bred:

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