Grizzlies ready themselves for high-regarded Lopers, Eagles
by David Mejia
ALAMOSA, Colo.— There is no sense in putting off any questions that need to be answered, which is just what the Adams State College men’s basketball team will do when it returns to action on Thursday. That is when the University of Nebraska-Kearney comes to Plachy Hall and resumes Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action.
The Lopers, 7-3 overall and 3-1, in conference and were ranked 15th in the preseason NCAA Division II Basketball Poll and as high as fourth in the Street and Smith’s preseason publication. Nebraska-Kearney was picked by the conference coaches to win the RMAC and have done little to discount the selection.
Adams State is more concerned about its health. The Grizzlies are nearly at full strength, but may be missing shooter David Hull (Belen, N.M.) and Kevin Johnson (Newark, Calif.), who is not quite at full strength either.
“I think we’re pretty good now as far as our health,” Adams State coach Larry Mortensen said. “You know Kevin is playing with a fractured foot for the most part. He has good days and he has bad days. One of the reasons I recruited Kevin was for games like Kearney and to defend people like Dusty Jura,” Mortensen said about the RMAC’s Preseason Player of the Year.
Jura comes into the contest having registered an RMAC-high seven double-double efforts this season. The 6-foot-6 senior, 225-pound senior forward is averaging a double-double this season, scoring 17.4 per game and pulling down 10.1 rebounds as well.
“We played them in the playoffs last year and we needed to get somebody to defend that guy,” Mortensen said.
Chadron State will play at Colorado State-Pueblo on Thursday before coming to Alamosa on Saturday. The Eagles enter the weekend sporting a 1-9 overall record and are 0-4 in RMAC action. Marcus Ligons, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound swingman from Richmond, Calif. is the team’s leading scorer at 17.8 points per game and has two double-double games to his credit this season.
For the Grizzlies, it’s a matter of defending the home court, something that is vital due to the parity in the RMAC this year. Adams State, sitting 3-8 overall and 2-2 in the loop, can get right back into the thick of things in the conference title hunt with a pair of wins this weekend.
“We’re coming into conference play and there are some winnable games,” the coach said. “I’m more concerned about what we’re doing, but if we get what we’re doing where it needs to be then we’re going to get some wins.”
“You have to win those home games and find some wins on the road, but I think we have a team that can win on the road. I think we’ve proven we can win on the road and, in fact, we need to prove that we can win at home.”
Adams State will get that exact opportunity this weekend. Seniors Roman Moniak (Sacramento, Calif.) and Wes Jensen (Molalla, Ore.) have done the bulk of the scoring for the Grizzlies. Moniak is scoring at 16.7 a game, while Jensen is averaging 11.5 points.
The production of point guards Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.) and Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) will be counted on heavily for the Grizzlies to be successful. Mortensen and Charles, Jr. enter the game with identical 3.09 assists per game averages. Mortensen and Charles are also ranked sixth and seventh, respectively in the assist/turnover ration at 1.89 and 1.70, respectively.
Adams State will also be depending on solid play from the likes of Aaron Stallworth (Stockton, Calif.), Russ Murrey (El Cerrito, Calif.), Rajshad Anderson (Lewisville, Texas) and Michael Weitzeil (Orem, Utah).
Both games are slated to begin at 8 p.m. and will follow the Adams State women’s basketball games. Both contests can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5) or via the internet at www.kspk.com.