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Point blank: Guard Crater dismissed from team

TAMPA -- Point guard Anthony Crater, whose two seasons at USF were marked by off-field problems and injuries, was dismissed from the Bulls on Monday for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Instead of an experienced if inconsistent senior in Crater running the team next season, the Bulls will rely on a player with little or no Big East experience, likely junior college transfer Blake Nash.

"I am disappointed for Anthony," coach Stan Heath said in a statement. He is a good young man who made a number of positive contributions to our program, but he made some mistakes and was unable to meet our team's standard. I am hopeful he will learn from this experience and achieve great things in the future."

Crater led the Bulls in minutes last season as Heath leaned heavily on him at point guard, and he ranked fourth in the Big East with 5.1 assists in conference games. He went the length of the court and hit the game-winning layup with 5.1 seconds left in USF's opening-round upset of Villanova in the Big East tournament, the best win in a disappointing 2010-11 season.

But Crater had problems off the court -- he was arrested with teammate Mike Mercer in 2009 and charged with possession of marijuana, a charge that was later dropped. He was questioned by police but not charged in the theft of $7,760 in property from the apartment of a former teammate that same year.

USF did not elaborate on the nature of his rules violation, but previous problems have been reportedly linked to positive drug tests. His first games as a Bull in January 2010 came after a six-game suspension, a disciplinary measure that matches the suspension for 20 percent of a season that is prompted by a second violation of USF's substance abuse policy. Sports site reported that violation was for a second failed drug test; a third such violation would result in dismissal from his team.

Crater was already a question mark for next season because he injured his right shoulder in USF's final game, requiring surgery in March that was to sideline him for six months. Heath signed two point guards last month -- Nash, a top junior college combo guard, and high school guard Anthony Collins of Houston; those two will compete with rising sophomore LaVonte Dority, who averaged just 5.7 minutes per game as Crater's backup last season.

Posted by Greg Auman at 9:54:02 pm on May 16, 2011