Tyler Hammond was still listed on the Marietta College men's basketball Gameday roster Saturday - without a number.
Hammond's old number "15" is now being worn by 6-foot-1 freshman Nate Walker.
"Tyler, as far as I'm concerned, will always be a part of our program," said MC head coach Jon VanderWal after the No. 19-ranked Pioneers defeated Baldwin-Wallace, 97-86, in an Ohio Athletic Conference game Saturday. "So, I guess that's all I'm going to say right now."
"Tyler holds a special place in my heart," the Pioneer boss continued. "He's done a lot for this program and this community. We love him to death. You know, he's made some tough choices, but we love him. He'll always be a part of Marietta College basketball."
The 21-year-old Hammond, as you may or may not know by now, was arrested, according to police reports, on Jan. 4 on Glendale Road (not far from The Marietta Times) for OVI, an acronym for operating a vehicle impaired, and driving left of center. Earlier this season, the 5-11 senior guard from Cleveland was suspended for four games for violating unspecified school polices.
Needless to say, MC men's basketball got off to a shaky start last week. Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Pioneers traveled to Ada to play Ohio Northern University in an OAC game and were defeated 78-73.
"We played without our three leading scorers (Andy Dollman, RaNeal Ewing, and Hammond) up at Northern," VanderWal said. "We just didn't play very good and got beat."
Dollman was sidelined with an illness, and Ewing an "undisclosed injury."
"RaNeal's out for a couple of games," VanderWal said. "We hope to have him back soon."
Dollman returned to action Saturday, and scored a team-high 24 points to help cap a difficult MC men's basketball program week on a high note.
"Our program really needed this (win) today (vs. Baldwin-Wallace)," VanderWal said. "We've had a lot of adversity the last week and been through some tough times. I couldn't be prouder of my group of guys and my coaching staff right now with how we responded in the last three days.
"We had a 3-1/2 hour bus ride home Wednesday night and had to pick ourselves up off the ground by Thursday. We had two great practices on Thursday and Friday and a great showing (Saturday) and beat one of the premier teams (B-W) in Division III. Their record (7-6 overall) may not show it but they're as talented as anybody we're going to play all year."
"We're in the nuts and bolts, the heart of our schedule right now," he continued. "It's a game we had to have, and our kids responded. I'm really proud of them."
Marietta College is scheduled to play at OAC first-place Mount Union Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. With a victory in Alliance, the Pioneers can share the league's top spot.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org