Thursday, February 21, 2013
Trouble for Montana?
By Luke Lapinski
Montana has won one NCAA Tournament game since 1975. But this year's club could make things a little interesting when March rolls around -- assuming everyone stays healthy.
Unfortunately for Wayne Tinkle's squad, that's not happening at the moment. Senior forward Mathias Ward is dealing with a foot injury and could potentially be out for awhile. How big of a blow is this to the Grizzlies? That depends on just how long "awhile" turns out to be. They've won 15 of 16, and Ward is a major reason why. He's emerged to lead the team in points (14.8 per game), possesses an excellent jumper and is one of their few frontcourt options. Granted, he's not a prototypical inside presence, but he at least fills out the forward ranks while making things happen.
Without Ward, Montana loses one of the main weapons that has made it such a potentially dangerous mid-major to look out for. Will Cherry is second on the team in scoring (13.4 ppg), and is more than capable of stepping up in that department. And Kareem Jamar gives them another offensive weapon (13.3 ppg) who brings plenty of versatility to the court every night. The team is probably capable of surviving the Big Sky without Ward, but this isn't great timing. Weber State is just one game back and, even if the Grizzlies do make an appearance in March Madness, they'll likely need Ward on the floor if they plan on pulling an upset or two.