By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
The Tupelo Rock-N-Rollers, a professional basketball team which reached its league finals last year, has been benched on the eve of this season’s tipoff.
A press release from the WBA Exposure League says the organization suspended operations of the Tupelo team on Sunday night and replaced it on the schedule with the Birmingham Steel, a Continental Basketball League franchise.
Tupelo team owner Russell Brooks could not be immediately reached for comment. Brooks was named the 2009 WBA executive of the year for his first-year team’s on-court success.
Brian Alexander, who was planning for his second season as head coach, called the news “very shocking.” He said he learned about the WBA’s move late Sunday.
The Tupelo franchise lost to the Buford, Ga., Majic 93-91 in last season’s championship game. In an 8-4 season, three of the Rock-N-Rollers’ losses came against the Majic.
The Rock-N-Rollers had held a pair of tryouts in Tupelo in recent weeks and were prepared to announce their roster on Monday.
Just a week ago, the league schedule indicated that Tupelo would open its season on Thursday at the Marietta (Ga.) Storm. The Rock-N-Rollers were set for a home game on Saturday against the Florida Flight.
The team had intended to play in area high school gyms this season.
Last season, the Tupelo team played most of its home games in a church gym, with one contest played at Columbus High School.
The Rock-N-Rollers were the latest effort to establish a pro sports toehold in Northeast Mississippi – an effort that has included failed franchises for indoor football, baseball, ice hockey and soccer.