NDSU men’s basketball gets healthy ahead of final stretch
Jared Samuelson, Sam Griesel return to the court for the Bison in January after sitting out with injuries for over a month
FARGO, N.D. –NDSU men’s basketball is off to an 8-2 start in the summit league, the best start to conference play since the 2014-15 season.
What might make that hard to believe is that the team has not been fully healthy while doing so.
Two key players spent over a month off the court to deal with injuries; senior Jared Samuelson with an injured shoulder and sophomore Sam Griesel with an injured knee.
Now back to full strength, the challenge has been finding a way to get both guys back into the rotation on a squad that proved it is full of depth.
“You look at guys like Jaxon Knotek and guys like Maleeck Harden-Hayes; guys that contributed and really helped keep us at the top of the Summit League with some of those other guys gone,” head coach Dave Richman said. “But in the grand scheme of things, I look at the big picture and do what I think is best for the program and the mission. Thankfully, you got guys that understand it.”
“I knew that when I went down, we were going to have our players step up because that is just kind of the culture around here,” says Griesel. “Coming back, I knew that I would just have to find my rhythm and just slowly but surely get my minutes back.”
For those players who have stepped up in other’s absence, and are now seeing less time on the court,, the team’s veterans continue to ensure them that their role is still vital to the team.
“I tell them everyday, you never know when your number is going to get called. You never know what is going to happen,” senior Vinnie Shahid said. “I hope nothing ever happens to anyone who has been playing right now, but you never know what is going to happen.”
“We’re in Omaha, and Rocky Kreuser gets into foul trouble and Tyler Witz is forced to play 15-16 minutes and he comes in and he does a wonderful job and I told him after the game, that is exactly what I was talking about. You have to stay ready and I think, once they saw Tyler do it , it makes it a little easier for them to stay locked in, to stay engaged in practice with everything that we do.”