Injuries force major changes to men’s basketball lineup

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
Alvin Storrs gets checked out after receiving an injury in the 131 showdown

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter Alvin Storrs gets checked out after receiving an injury in the 131 showdown

Brady Fredericksen

Injuries are an element of sports that every team must overcome. From contact to non-contact sports, teams face injuries throughout the regular-season grind.

That injury bug has wiggled its way into the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team, making its presence known in the last month.

After staying healthy for most of the regular season, the setbacks have come in bunches as the Lakers have lost junior center Nick Waddell to a knee injury suffered in practice on Jan. 18.

Waddell, who played a minimal role in his one game after the injury, sat out Saturday’s 131 Showdown against Ferris State University. According to GVSU head coach Ric Wesley, the junior will try to play through the injury for the rest of this season before looking into offseason surgery.

It wasn’t just Waddell’s injury that had an impact on the Lakers 79-72 overtime loss in the 131. Junior guard Alvin Storrs – the team’s top defender and emotional leader – suffered a concussion only four minutes into the game and did not return to action.

Meanwhile, senior guard K’Len Morris played only eight minutes before injuring his knee in a freak fall at mid-court.

Storrs and Waddell are expected to return this season, but the outlook on Morris, who has encountered several knee and shoulder injuries in his time at GVSU, is in a wait-and-see stage.

With five Lakers – Storrs, Waddell, Morris and walk-ons Josh Robertson and David Fox – currently injured, head coach Ric Wesley will have to shuffle his rotation in the middle of the conference season.

“Some of it’ll just be trial, error and feel. We’ve got some veteran guys, and we’ll fight through it,” said Wesley, whose team has also been without seniors Mike Przydzial (knee, mono) and Toreau Brown (academics) all season. “We’ve had a little bit of a setback here, but we’ve got to find a way. We’ll change some things we do, look at different rotations and guys are going to have to step up.”

One of GVSU’s strengths throughout the season has been its depth. Playing anywhere between nine and ten players in most games, the strong bench has not only stepped in for fatigued starters, but also added to the on-court production.

“We play a lot of guys, and usually if two guys at the same position (like Morris and Storrs) get injured, a team wouldn’t have anything left,” said sophomore guard Tony Peters, who’s averaging 14 minutes per game this season. “I’m next in line to fill in, so I’ll do my best to play my part and help the team in any way I can.”

Increased roles will become a common theme as the team weathers through the injuries. Along with Peters, starting center Asauhn Tatum, who plays in a near time-share with Waddell, will look to pick up some of the production.

“My mindset before games is to try to work on being more of an offensive presence,” said Tatum, the team’s leading shot-blocker. “Especially with all these injuries, I just try to do more in practice so when it’s game time I can try to make up for some of the stuff the (injuries) have taken away.”

Going forward, the Lakers have seven games remaining in the regular season and will debut their revamped rotation tonight at Saginaw Valley State University. Despite the injuries, Peters’ says the Lakers expect no sympathy from around the conference.

“I think the whole team’s mindset is that no one’s going to feel sorry for us,” he said. “We still have our goals that we want to reach – and the games are still going to be played – so we’re going to have to come together more than anything.”

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