MHERST, Mass. - UMass men's basketball coach Travis Ford has announced that center Jeff Salovski (Bristol, Conn.) has left the team and the University for personal reasons.
Salovski completed one season with the Minutemen in 2004-05. He averaged just 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds playing just 9.5 minutes per game in 28 games. He had a career-high 21 against Xavier on Jan. 8, 2005, including 12 in overtime as the Minutemen outlasted the Musketeers, 90-86 in triple overtime.
niversity of Massachusetts big man Jeff "Big Deli" Salovski has decided to stop playing basketball and has withdrawn from school.
Minuteman coach Travis Ford said the 6-foot-11, 350 pound big man has not requested a release from his scholarship, which is necessary to transfer.
Salovski's size alone created considerable interest in him, when UMass recruited him out of Bristol (Conn.) Central High School. He became a Mullins Center favorite as fans embraced his teddy bear appearance and his enthusiasm on the court. They cheered wildly whenever he entered the game or touched the ball. He averaged 4.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 19.0 minutes per game.
The pinnacle of his brief career came in January. With all-conference big man Rashaun Freeman in foul trouble against Xavier, Salovski scored 12 of his 21 points in overtime and carried the Minutemen to victory.
Salovski's future became a question once coach Steve Lappas was not retained after the season. While Lappas had loved the mammoth center, people began wondering how Salovski would fit into Ford's up-tempo system.
It seemed to go well at first. Ford praised Salovski's effort, and hoped that with improved conditioning and mobility that Salovski could evolve into a standout player.
But Ford said Salovski's motivation seemed to wane.
"I had to talk Deli into staying a couple of times. Yesterday he called and said he's not interested in playing basketball anymore and he doesn't have the love for the game anymore," Ford said. "He said he's been struggling in school and was going to get a job and get started in the real world.
"He had a great beginning with us, but then had some struggles trying to keep his motivation up," Ford said. "It's something I've seen coming on for the past couple months. He's a great young man. But if you don't have a love for the game, it's hard to play at this level."
Salovski could not be reached for comment.
Ford said he hoped Salovski would eventually return to college.
"I told him I Hoped he'd change his mind and pursue the game and hopefully get back into school, but he does not want to play basketball," Ford said. "He said he's felt this way for a very long time.
Salovski's depletes the UMass frontcourt, but only for a short time.
Ford's up-tempo system favors a more athletic big man. Senior Jeff Viggiano, who at 6-foot-6, has played inside and on the wing during his career becomes almost exclusively a power forward now.
He'll be joined inside by returning starters Rashaun Freeman and Stephane Lasme, as well as Lawrence Carrier. Newcomer Brandon Thomas is capable of playing inside as well.
At the end of December, Dante Milligan will become eligible adding him to the inside mix.
West Virginia transfer Luke Bonner is a center and Boston University transfer Etienne Brower has played most of his career inside. Both will be eligible for the 2006-07 season.
Salovski's departure leaves UMass with two or three scholarships to offer potential recruits. Brower is currently a walk-on, but could earn a scholarship over the season.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.