One foot out the door

Sounds like Army is on the verge of losing yet another player after his sophomore season. Guard Travis Owsley tells his hometown paper, the Marion, Ind. Chronicle Tribune he is thinking about bailing, in part it seems because he does not like the idea of the military commitment that kicks in if he returns for his junior year.

Owsley tells the CT:
"I'm not scared to serve my country. The issue with me is (the Army) becomes a big part of your life through your 20s, and that is a significant time in your life.

Then there is the war in Iraq and (superiors) are telling us to be prepared to leave at any time. My (graduating) class is not going to dodge the war in Iraq."
Owsley is not the first Cadet to face this decision. Players opting out are a fact of life at both Army and Navy, though it seems to be a bigger problem over the years for the Cadets.

Part of that might have to do with the basketball. If the Cadets were winning, certainly the hoops end of the bargain would make staying a more attractive option.

But Army has been horrible in both of Owsley's two seasons at West Point (and for many seasons before that). For kids that choose Army in part because it is a chance to play Division I ball, playing on a team that is consistently near the bottom of its league, and near the bottom of all D-I teams in the nation probably makes D-2 or D-3 hoops seem a little better.

It certainly sounds that way in this case. In the story, Owsley admits:
"In high school, it was all about Division I. But I've come to see basketball as basketball, and it's pretty competitive wherever it's played at."
It is not like Army would be losing an irreplaceable player. Owsley played in 23 games this season, starting 14. But he left the starting lineup in Army's only win over a D-I this season (1-23 vs. Navy) and his minutes fell from there. He was a DNP in four of the last five games for Army. In the season's last two games, a pair of losses to Holy Cross, Owsley never got off the bench, even though 13 Cadets played in the regular season finale and 14 in the tournament opener. That would seem to be a sign of some sort from Jim Crews.

In the story, Owsley refused to speculate why his minutes vanished, saying only:
"It's just a combination of things. It hasn't been the season I hoped it would be."
To be honest, it does not appear that losing Owsley would be a huge blow to the Army program. The "two-time Grant County scoring champion and 2003 Chronicle-Tribune Player of the Year" averages 4 points and 2 assists. But he was one of 11 guards 6-2 or smaller on the Army roster, all but one of which are sophomores or freshmen.

It's more the symbolic loss that makes this a notable story. One of the keys to building (it's been down so long, rebuilding is not the right word anymore) the Army program will be retaining the players they do manage to recruit.

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