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Stepner: Lamonte Bearden suspension is three games for marijuana

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

"Conduct detrimental to the team" is always a tough phrase to stomach, and even moreso in the middle of the season. Without disclosing too much, my real job is entirely centered around the recognition that young people do stupid stuff and in some ways deserve a different critical lens than adults.

That said, Lamonte Bearden's suspension, announced today, is a gut-check for Bulls fans. Youthful decision-making or not, Lamonte has to know the rules of the team and has to understand that anything like this hurts the team significantly, especially when it comes down midseason. I want to remember that 19, 20 is really not that old, and everyone (literally everyone) makes mistakes at that age, but I also want to convey that it's really a big letdown for a lot of people when you're invested in a team and a team's success.

It certainly wasn't the only tipping point tonight, but in a close, close game, I think it's fair to say that Bearden's presence tips it into Buffalo's favor. College kids do silly things, but most college kids don't share as much high-profile responsibility.

Unfortunately, the foggy pregame details of the suspension are becoming more clear, as Shawn Stepner at WKBW has it:

I have two thoughts, if I may editorialize:

1) Whether it was Oats or someone higher up the ladder, kudos to the decisionmakers for acting on this. Other program in the MAC - including tonight's opponent - have over the last few years not been so punitive for similar and mre serious situations.

2) Unfortunately, Bearden's senior year arrest for possession, which I have actively tried to keep off the site given that it occurred and was resolved before he arrived at UB, is now going to come up. I don't think anyone will be surprised that Division 1 athletes enjoy marijuana, but regardless of how you feel on legality, it's still a violation of multiple sets of rules that govern him, and Lamonte now has two instances where it's hurt his team and been an easy call for his coaches and administrators to suspend him.

Bearden will return to the lineup, UB will continue to play basketball, and still is in good shape for a much stronger than expected MAC season, but tonight's news - wholly avoidable - certainly puts a damper on things for the time being.