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Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Owners decide not to play in postseason

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Rhythm are skipping the American Basketball Association playoffs, another odd turn for a team whose co-owner fired the coach during a game this season.

The team, which is up for sale, would have hosted a first-round game after finishing the regular season 21-10.

"We've lost several players and felt we were not ready for the playoffs," the owners said in a statement. "We decided to open a spot in the playoffs for a more competitive team."

ABA chairman Joe Newman said co-owner Tony Bucher informed him of the decision to bypass the playoff game Thursday night.

Top players Odell Bradley, Dontae' Jones and Josh Cooperwood all have left or are leaving to play for teams overseas.

"We're angry," guard Garrett Richardson told The Tennessean. "We worked hard because we had to earn the record that we have. We know we could compete in the playoffs if we had a shot."

Added Rhythm general manager Daniel Bucher: "I don't own the team and have no say in these matters."

In May, the owners hired a female coach, Ashley McElhiney, 23, who had no previous experience after being a fan favorite during her playing days at Vanderbilt.

Then co-owner Sally Anthony walked onto the court during a game, yelled at McElhiney over playing time, fired the coach and had to be restrained by security guards. McElhiney returned to the team when Anthony was removed as the Rhythm's chief executive.

"From a human standpoint, ending the season is probably the nicest thing that could have happened for them," Newman told the newspaper.

Guard Kyle Gribble said the players' salaries were paid in full for the season, but missing the playoffs will deny them a chance at bonus money.