Blodgett dismisses Rush from squad

Posted April 01, 2010, at 12:32 a.m.

Jasmine Rush, a sophomore guard at the University of Maine, has been dismissed from the women’s basketball team by coach Cindy Blodgett.

The decision was announced Wednesday.

Blodgett said Rush, a 5-foot-9 player from Houston, had not met requirements established for players in the program.

“You have expectations and you have those both on and off the court,” Blodgett said. “When they’re not met, you have to re-evaluate the situation and see if the partnership, relationship, is beneficial to both sides. [UMaine’s] not the right fit for Jasmine.”

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Rush played primarily a backup role during her two seasons at UMaine. She appeared in 42 games, making 10 starts, and averaged 15.2 minutes per contest.

“I am grateful for having attended a wonderful university and grateful for having the chance to be coached by Cindy Blodgett,” Rush said in an e-mail to the BDN. “Unfortunately, Maine just was not a good fit for me on a personal level, and I will find somewhere else more suitable and maybe closer to home.”

The lefthanded-shooting Rush averaged 3.1 points per game. She appeared in only 14 games last season and suffered a season-ending knee injury Jan. 16 during pregame warmups. She had surgery and is undergoing rehabilitation.

“I will greatly miss my teammates and some of the bonds that we shared,” Rush said. “All in all, this is a great school and I wish the team nothing but the best in their future endeavors and I am grateful for being a part of the program.”

In an unrelated development, the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal reported UMaine has received a verbal commitment from Ashleigh Roberts, a 5-9 guard/forward from Concord High School in Wilmington, Del.

Blodgett stressed Rush’s on-court performance had nothing to do with the move.

“This is not a basketball decision,” Blodgett said. “You cannot pull a kid’s scholarship just because they don’t put up the numbers you want. There are so many layers.”

Blodgett declined to elaborate, other than to say she will assist Rush transfer to another school.

“I say this sincerely, we’re going to do everything we can to help her at her next stop and she knows that,” Blodgett said.

In what may have been a sign of problems, Rush sat out the Jan. 10 home game against Maryland Baltimore County for undisclosed reasons that were not injury-related.

UMaine, which previously had two post players sign National Letters of Intent to join the program next fall, loses three seniors who have exhausted their eligibility in Kristin Baker, Katia Bratishko and Amanda Tewksbury.

Assuming Roberts signs an NLI later this month, UMaine still would have one of its 15 scholarships available.

Although there has been considerable player turnover since Blodgett’s arrival at UMaine in 2007, Rush is the first player recruited by Blodgett to leave the program.

There were several moves during 2007-08. Transfer Whitney Morrow of South Portland left the team in November 2007, citing personal reasons.

In March 2008, starting guard Emily Rousseau of Biddeford, Sandra Vaitkute and Magdala Johnson, all recruits of former Bears coach Ann McInerney, departed the UMaine team. Brittany Bowen also stepped away from basketball that spring but stayed in school and maintained her scholarship working as a member of the support staff during 2008-09.

Roberts will arrive in Orono having made her mark at Concord High.

She finished her career with a school-record 1,646 points, which ranks eighth on Delaware’s girls career scoring list. Last season, she averaged 22.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 2.2 assists.

Roberts enjoyed her recent visit to Orono.

“The people there were easy to connect with, so that’s why I decided it would be the best fit,” she told the Wilmington News Journal.

Roberts, who also considered Boston University, one of UMaine’s America East rivals, led Concord to a 17-4 record this season and a spot in the second round of the Delaware state tournament.

Her team lost to Caesar Rodney, but Concord scored 39 of her team’s 49 points.

Roberts went on to score 13 points in the BlueGold High School All-Star Game and was an all-state, first-team selection.

“She had a great year and I think she’s meant everything to us,” Concord coach John Armstrong told the Wilmington News Journal. “She’s been the catalyst for everything we’ve done. She’s a hard worker.”

Blodgett is prohibited by NCAA rules from commenting about a recruit until UMaine has received a signed NLI. The signing period begins April 14.

Roberts’ participation at UMaine is contingent upon her acceptance to the university and compliance with NCAA initial-eligibility guidelines.

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