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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 06 2011

Injuries pile up for Oral Roberts men's basketball team

This is not a misprint. The Oral Roberts men’s basketball team comes to the Bison Sports Arena tonight with a 5-11 record, thanks mostly to being banged-up.

Junior forwards Dominique Morrison and Michael Craion, two preseason all-Summit League players, are sidelined with injuries. Morrison, the team’s leading scorer at 18.4 points per game, had surgery for a meniscus tear in his knee this week and is out for two to three weeks. Craion is out for the season with a foot injury.

Also, veteran guard Kyron Stokes has missed nine games with concussion symptoms.

Last year there were three ACL tears for the Eagles.

“I told the guys, ‘We recruited you for a reason, and that is you have the talent to win championships,’” said ORU head coach Scott Sutton. “Now you need to grow up a little bit. You have to do more than you normally do.”

North Dakota State hasn’t exactly been burning the Summit standings, either. ORU is 0-2 in the conference and NDSU 1-2, and both are in danger of losing sight of first-place Oakland University and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, both of which are 4-0.

“Both teams need a win, that’s obvious,” Sutton said. “If you want to stay in the race, you can’t afford to drop too many more.”

The Eagles have dropped seven of eight, although the schedule included Oklahoma, Missouri and Miami (Fla.). Historically a defensive-oriented team, that hasn’t been the case this year.

The Eagles are eighth in the league in scoring defense, giving up 73 points per game.

“Sometimes in the short term, when you lose a couple of guys, people step up and do things,” said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips. “It makes preparation honestly difficult without Morrison. Yeah, we have to re-adjust how we look at this Oral Roberts team. They’re still going to play defense and they’re still well-coached.”

The Eagles’ scoring, then, has come from freshman forward Steven Roundtree (12.8 points), sophomore center Damen Bell-Holter (12.6 including 27 Monday night at Akron) and sophomore guard Warren Niles (12.3).

“For us, we need something good to happen,” Sutton said. “When you lose guys, you never know how it will affect a team. Last year, we were able to overcome it. This year, we haven’t.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia