MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies have won seven in a row, and sit at the top of the Big Sky Conference. But they still have some questions to answer this week.
Star senior forward Jamar Akoh missed the last game with an injury. And the Griz don’t know if he’ll be ready to play Thursday night at Weber State. Akoh suffered the injury on a hard fall after a layup versus Idaho last Thursday. He was missing at the beginning of practice on Tuesday.
When asked about Akoh’s status, head coach Travis DeCuire simply said he did not know when the big man could return to the lineup. Akoh also missed seven games early this season with a wrist injury. So the Griz do know how to fill in during his absence.
“I had a short conversation with this team (Monday) after practice,” said DeCuire. “One of the things I reminded them of was when we didn’t have Jamar we led the country in offensive field goal percentage. So maybe we find a way to get back to that. But we still need to be good defensively. So we’re going to have to be a little more versatile.”
“Jamar is obviously a huge part of what we do,” admitted senior guard Michael Oguine. “Without him things change a little bit. But at the end of the day, we have guys ready to step up. Donaven (Dorsey) especially. Big shout out to him. He has kind of filled in that roll very nicely. He has found his stride. He is playing very confidently. Sayeed (Pridgett), of course, has really stepped up as well.”
Pridgett earned Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors for a second time this season, after he shot 84 percent from the field and averaged 20 points over two victories. His inside-outside combination becomes even more important with Akoh out.
Montana beat Weber State in the first meeting between the Big Sky Conference powerhouse programs three weeks ago in Missoula, 75-68. The Wildcats were also missing their starting center, Zach Braxton, with a sprained ankle in their last game.
No matter who steps on the court, the intensity will be high in Ogden.
“To get a win against them early on is big for us,” said Oguine. “It kind of puts us in a good place. We know where we are. Like I said, we really like to compare ourselves with them. So beating them the first time is always a huge step for us. And now it’s about getting the second part done.”
“Tough team to beat. Incredible environment,” said DeCuire about the trip to Weber State. “I think this is the part of the schedule that I looked at and said, it’s going to get fun.”
The Grizzlies have lost 12 of their past 14 games versus the Wildcats in the Dee Events Center. They try to extend their lead atop the Big Sky at 7:00 Thursday night.