Herl could return for RMAC Shootout
Jase Herl was pretty dejected Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning he was feeling better, and by practice Wednesday afternoon he was smiling and laughing with teammates.
By Wednesday night, he was breathing a sigh of relief.
Herl, the Mavericks’ senior leader, found out his ankle injury is a Grade 3 sprain and he could return in time to play in the RMAC Shootout.
“They said there is a stress fracture, and they think that’s what was bothering me in October,” Herl said Wednesday night after getting the results of an X-ray and MRI. “It’s a Grade 3 ankle sprain. They think 3-6 weeks, but I think it’ll be faster than that. It feels a lot better already.”
Herl landed on another player’s foot early in the second half of Tuesday’s game in Gunnison and spent the rest of the game on the bench, his foot wrapped in ice. By the end of practice Wednesday, he was standing on two feet, and even took a few steps.
“The swelling has gone down a lot, so I’m pretty optimistic,” Herl said. “I was glad to hear that news. The same thing has happened to me before and I bounced right back.”
Herl said he hasn’t watched the game film — and doesn’t really want to — to find out how the injury happened. He hasn’t been taping his ankle because the tape made the top of his foot, where the stress fracture is, feel worse.
Coach Jim Heaps hadn’t decided Wednesday on a new starting lineup ... or had he?
“We’ll just play with four,” he quipped before practice, as Herl sat on the sideline, his right foot in a trash can filled with ice water. “There’s a lot of options. We have a lot of good basketball players. What we want to do is try to keep as many people’s roles the same as possible.”
Heaps could move Brian Kenshalo or Russell Gregory into the starting guard spot that Herl has owned the past two seasons. Kenshalo, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, averages 6.6 points a game, Gregory, a 6-3 junior, 2.5 points.
Where the Mavericks will really miss Herl, who averages 12.6 points a game, is on the boards (7.5 rebounds) and defensively — he often draws the toughest perimeter assignment.
“What we’ll miss with Jase is his personality, his leadership, the intensity and the intangibles he brings to the table,” Heaps said.
The Mavericks (20-1, 14-0 RMAC), ranked ninth in the nation and No. 1 in the Central Region, play at Western New Mexico on Saturday night.
“Everybody feels really bad for Jase because he’s the one missing the games,” Heaps said. “Nobody doubts that we can be just as successful without him, not to minimize his contribution, but we’ve got a lot of guys that can play the game and have confidence in themselves.”
Heaps is hoping Herl will be back by the RMAC Shootout, which begins March 2.
“He’s got a good pain threshold,” Heaps said. “As long as there’s not too much structural damage, he’ll get back out there and play. It’s up to the rest of us to hold down the fort.”
For his part, Herl will be spending plenty of time in the training room.
“I’ll be in there doing everything I can to get ready,” he said. “This was the most I could ask for.”