May 4, 2009 at 1:17 am

Joanne Gerstner

Isiah gets off on the wrong foot

Oh, Isiah.

Looks like the honeymoon, or whatever it was, might be ending for Isiah Thomas at Florida International University.

Thomas, the school's new basketball coach, has found his mega-watt smile and charm might not smooth things over with some seriously ticked-off Sunshine State high school coaches.

Thomas decided to rescind three scholarship offers made to recruits by previous coach Sergio Ruoco.

Unfortunately, he didn't bother to tell the kids.

He made assistants call the players and break their hearts.

This shouldn't be too shocking, given Thomas' train-wreck coaching and management history. Rules, mores, class and common sense have been omitted from his playbook for a while.

The recruits, such as 6-foot-4 small forward Jamel Marshall of Orlando-area Olympia High, had signed national letters-of-intent with FIU and assumed they were good to go. Sorry.

Mark Greiseck, Marshall's coach, called Thomas' move "gutless" in the Orlando Sentinel.

Another coach, Bruce Rosebrock of Jacksonville Wolfson High, also had Thomas -- through a flunky -- renege on one of his players. The students will be released from their scholarships, letting them go to another school without NCAA penalties for transferring. But at this late point, scholarships are slim pickings.

"I hope in the future we have a player (Thomas) wants, because he won't get them," Rosebrock said. "The door at Wolfson is closed to him. This was handled about as badly as you can do it."

Thomas, through intermediaries, believed he could not have contact with the players because he would violate NCAA rules. Thomas later called the kids to apologize, well after things escalated from hurt to anger.

But this actually reveals how much Thomas has to learn.

It's a time of the year when coaches can speak to athletes without penalty.

Stay classy, Isiah.

Doing the right thing

The Columbus Blue Jackets, unable to do much right against the Red Wings, were swept out the first round of the playoffs.

But the Blue Jackets had been generous and big-hearted to Ohioan Ryan Salmons , 19, a fan who was fighting a cancer of the muscles in his arms, legs and trunk.

He was a high school hockey player before he was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago. His favorite hockey team, the Blue Jackets, came to be a big part of his life.

The Blue Jackets signed him to a one-day contract March 25, and he was in the stands when the Blue Jackets played their first home playoff game, against the Wings on April 22.

He also met Wings coach Mike Babcock .

Salmons died Friday, and his funeral will be Tuesday in the family's hometown of Grove City, just southwest of Columbus.

Salmons asked that everybody attending display Blue Jackets car flags instead of the usual orange funeral flags.

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