If you didn't think that was possible, think again. It's hard to fathom, I know, because when your entire revenue-producing athletics program is implicated in a massive scandal by a former booster and convicted felon who, in the midst of spelling out countless sordid allegations, says he gave $10,000 to then-recruit DeQuan Jones in an arrangement Frank Haith and his assistant were aware of -- well, that should be as far as a fan base and its new basketball coach can sink.
At first glance, it doesn't seem like a big deal: Gamble started only 13 games and averaged a mere 3.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2011. But his emergence as a fifth-year senior was going to be crucial to Jim Larranaga's first season at Miami because starting junior center Reggie Johnson is expected to miss all of November and December as he recovers from a June 30 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Larranaga expressed his sadness in a statement, saying the school would do everything it could to support Gamble during his injury and that he knew Gamble "will also be there supporting his teammates, because that is just the kind of person he is."
For his part, Gamble seems to be handling the injury extremely well. On Tuesday, in a series of tweets, he wrote:
We are never given more than we can handle, so i never ask "Why me?" just "Why not?" because i will come out on top! Thank you everyone for your wishes, love, and support... i promise i will come back better and always keep my head up in hard times. But for now all i can do is pray and give myself whole-heartedly to my team and doing anything possible to make us successful!
Miami needs that kind of attitude right now. Gamble's injury will leave the Hurricanes' frontcourt drastically thin until Johnson is able to return, and there's no telling how long Johnson will take to get to 100 percent game speed even after he's arrived back on the court. Fortunately, Larranaga does have an option in former Florida transfer Kenny Kadji, but the redshirt sophomore has yet to prove he's a legitimate college contributor, let alone the kind of frontcourt player who can keep the Hurricanes afloat without Johnson and departed 2011 starter Adrian Thomas.
You feel for Gamble, but you also feel for Larranaga. The former George Mason coach turned down many an offer after his miraculous 2006 Final Four appearance with GMU, but this spring, he decided to take a late-career trip to Miami in what was sure to be his final job as a college coach. Now, not only is the team he inherited debilitated by injury, but one of its players (Jones) has been accused of taking (and later returning) $10,000 cash in exchange for his commitment in 2008. That puts Jones' short-term services at risk. In the long term, if NCAA investigators can find any truth to that allegation, Miami's program will be punished and will suffer for years to come.
What a sad few months for Larranaga and his new program. It's just one thing after another.