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Eric Peterson, Published January 30 2013

NDSU's Wright questionable for men's basketball game

FARGO – The Bison men’s basketball team could be without another talented wing player.

North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips said junior TrayVonn Wright is questionable for Thursday’s game against Missouri-Kansas City at the Bison Sports Arena.

“It’s up in the air right now,” Wright said. “I feel pretty good. We are going to see how it feels (Thursday).”

Wright puts his chances of playing at 50-50. The 6-foot-7 junior has a strained foot muscle, an injury that happened in the closing minutes of last Saturday’s loss at South Dakota State.

“It’s a little bit on an unusual injury,” Phillips said. “I have never dealt with it before.”

Phillips said if Wright has regained enough strength in his foot, he will play. If not, the Bison will be down two starters against the Kangaroos.

“It’s tough, but the next person will step up, and everyone is playing decent right now,” Wright said.

Junior forward Taylor Braun, the team’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, has missed the past three games with a foot injury and isn’t expected back until the end of the regular season. Wright is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game.

“We’re getting pulled in a lot of different directions right now due to some things out of our control, but you handle them, and we’ve still got some good pieces out there,” Phillips said.

Either Chris Kading or Brett VandenBergh, both freshman forwards, will likely get the starting nod if Wright doesn’t play tonight. Junior forward Jordan Aaberg, from Rothsay, Minn., will also see more court time in that scenario. Phillips said it’s on him to coach around the injuries.

“Our guys don’t have to worry about it,” Phillips said. “If their numbers are called, they are going to go out there and play.”

With or without Wright, the Bison want to run their offense through post Marshall Bjorklund. The 6-foot-8 junior is averaging 12.3 points per game and shooting 71 percent from the field.

“We’ve been kind of a halfcourt, pound-it-in-the-post team anyway, and the reason that is is because Marshall has been so good down there,” Phillips said. “So that really doesn’t change.”

The Bison are tied for second place in the Summit League with South Dakota State, half a game behind Western Illinois. NDSU has seven conference games remaining on its schedule.

“Every win at this point becomes huge, every loss becomes huge. It starts to become crunch time,” Phillips said. “At the end of the year, the standings board doesn’t take excuses to add another win or take away a loss. Your numbers are your numbers.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com