Weber State junior forward Frank “Mook” Otis was so disheartened by his knee injury Dec. 7 at BYU he wondered if he’d ever play again, but he could see action as soon as tonight’s Weber State game against Montana State.
“It’s kind of been hard, just sitting out, watching,” Otis said. “I’ve been through a couple of knee surgeries so going through it again, my mind was kind of made up like I was done playing, but just sitting out and watching, I kind of got my passion back, you know what I mean? My dad, he told me, basketball is like crack. He said you can stay away from it for a minute but eventually you’re going to want it again.”
Dealing with yet another injury was depressing.
“It wasn’t even that I wouldn’t (physically) be able to play again, it was just, tired of going through injuries. It just kind of wears on your mind, you know? All that therapy and stuff is hard going through because you can’t do what you once did; can’t jump how you could, can’t run how you could. It was just kind of frustrating.”
Mook said he’s ready to go tonight; the Wildcats hope to get senior forward Kyle Bullinger back soon as well.
“If I get a chance on Thursday, I think I’ll be able to get out there and help my team defensively and a little bit offensively,” Otis said. “Right now I just want to get out there and help my teammates — just give them breathers, because we’re short on players right now. I just want to do whatever I can, whatever coach Rahe asks of me, that’s what I’m going to do.”
More from Weber State coach Randy Rahe about tonight’s game:
On being down to eight players before Otis’ and Bullinger’s returns:
“We have to be smart about how we practice now. We have eight true bodies right now. You can’t come out here two hours a day, three days. If we have to sacrifice a little bit of execution to have more energy we’re willing to do that, because it doesn’t matter how well you execute if you don’t have the energy to go out there and do it; it’s not going to work anyway.”
“What you’re hoping for is that will pay off with high energy on Thursday night.”
On whether anything Lillard does now ever surprises him:
“I hate to say it doesn’t surprise me.
“I am never going to take him for granted. He works so hard at everything he does to have performances like that. There’s certain things out there that surprise me: He played 40 minutes the second night of a road trip and he didn’t look like his energy slipped that much. It was the same thing with Scotty (Bamforth). They played with a pretty high level of energy and that tells you what kind of condition those guys are in. (Lillard) works hard for everything and so whatever he does out there, he’s earned it. No matter what kind of performance, he’s earned it.”
On Bamforth and Lillard getting in sync in Big Sky Conference play:
“They play off each other really well. They both get a lot of attention and they do things for each other out there. The whole team does. It’s not just those two guys, it’s not a two-man deal, but they do play well off each other and everybody else pitches in. Everybody else is sharing the ball, moving the ball and doing what they can do. Everybody is playing their roles really well and that’s what you’ve got to have.”
On dealing with injuries, including losing James Hajek (dislocated knee) for four to six weeks just as Otis and Bullinger are ready to return:
“The way we handle injuries is we can’t worry about them. We move forward. We don’t sit around thinking if we can just get by until this certain time, that’s our team. It’s been our team for the last nine games and we’re just moving forward and trying to get better. I’ll tell you this — it’s easier to add than it is to subtract and we’re hoping by next week we can have these guys full speed ahead and that will be easier for us to add than subtract. Obviously we want them back as soon as we can. Bull and Mook are capable of really helping out our team and maybe they’ll give us that extra boost we need down the road.”
On younger players stepping in and getting experience:
“We’ve been able to get Gelaun (Wheelwright) some time. Mike Brown’s gotten a little bit of time, some time they wouldn’t have gotten obviously if we’d stayed the same. They’ve had opportunities to get better and they have. James Hajek had a great opportunity and he took full advantage in terms of getting better. Now we get (Bullinger and Otis) back and we’re still going to use those guys. Now they’re more able to play well. It can help your team, kind of reboost your team and you’ve got to have as many guys healthy as you can to do well. Hopefully that’s the way it works out.”