2 Poets starters: We're suspended


Dunbar High seniors Michael Cooper and Alexander Mobley, the only remaining members from the Poets' 1991-92 mythical national championship basketball team, remain suspended by interim coach Paul Smith and may not play in next week's Altoona (Pa.) Rotary Tournament, the players said yesterday.

However, the players said that teammates, not Smith, informed them of the continuing suspension.

The suspensions of Cooper, a 6-foot-2 starting guard, and Mobley, a 6-8 starting forward, began with Friday's 72-71 loss to Southern-Baltimore in the Function at the Junction Mixer at Coppin State.

The suspension stemmed from a disagreement both players had with Smith about playing time during a 74-59 victory against Walbrook on Thursday. Smith could not be reached for comment last night.

Last month, Smith replaced Pete Pompey, who has been on administrative leave since August while an investigation of misuse of athletic department funds is being conducted by city state's attorney's office.

Cooper and Mobley say they are upset because they were not told directly by Smith that they would not be playing against Southern. According to Cooper, they were told Friday afternoon by interim athletic director Gail Robinson when they went to pick up their uniforms for the game.

PTC "The problem is that he didn't come to us," said Mobley, who has signed with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. "He's our coach and should have come to us first."

Said Cooper: "We had some words [Thursday], and we apologized. The issue should have been settled, but he feels it isn't enough discipline."

Cooper and Mobley said they were not allowed in the Dunbar locker room for the pre-game meeting Friday, but both players, wearing street clothes, did sit on the end of the bench during the Southern game.

Both came to practice on Monday, and each met with Smith. They said they were told they couldn't practice until yesterday. However, the team did not have a practice yesterday. Smith never mentioned a suspension, the two said.

The players said they learned from teammates that Smith had announced during a team meeting Monday that Mobley and Cooper would not make the trip to Altoona.

"He [Smith] asked me how I felt about the situation, and I admitted I was wrong," Cooper said. "I understood the consequences for doing that and not playing Friday, but not to tell us face to face that we're not playing is unprofessional."

The Poets are ranked No. 2 in the area and No. 14 by USA Today. Monday night at the Altoona tournament, they will face Carlisle, Pa. Dunbar will face either Archbishop Molloy (N.Y.) or Altoona Wednesday.

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