Sophomore guard Mark Alstork missed almost the entire preseason for Wright State with a broken foot, which meant he didn’t have enough practices to become comfortable in the offense or build his conditioning.
“I just had to wing it — play hard and go with the flow,” he said.
Alstork somehow managed to score 27 points in the season-opening win over South Dakota, but the lack of preparation caught up with him.
Even with that breakout performance, he averaged a modest 9.6 points through the first 10 games.
“I started the year off decent, but then that (injury) set me back,” he said. “I was nicked up, but now I’m getting healthy. The foot is still hurting. But I’m being aggressive and trying to help the team.”
The 6-foot-5 Alstork has been giving the Raiders much-needed scoring punch since their 3-7 start. He’s reached double figures in 14 consecutive games, 11 of them victories. He’s averaged 14.9 points in that stretch.
He had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in an 84-83 win Thursday over Milwaukee, which kept Wright State (14-10, 8-3) in a tie for second in the Horizon League going into Saturday’s game with Green Bay (14-9, 6-4).
Despite Alstork’s recent surge, coach Billy Donlon is probably harder on him than any other player — because the Thurgood Marshall product has so much untapped potential.
“Mark has an incredible knack to score about every way you can, and it’s just getting him to inject everything he can in all aspects of the game. It’s a maturation process for all players,” Donlon said.
“It’s hard for a second-year college player to be really good in all areas, and at times he’s elite in all areas. It’s just about getting him there all the time.”
Alstork had a couple of nifty crunch-time assists against Milwaukee, and he followed his own miss for a bucket with 1:12 to go for a six-point lead. That basket helped the Raiders withstand a frantic rally by the Panthers.
“Those are the plays that you say to him, ‘Hey, you can do this a lot,’” Donlon said. “Those are the plays you want him to make, and we need him to make those (tonight).”
The visiting Phoenix are in the midst of a taxing stretch. The meeting with Wright State will be their eighth road game in their last 10 outings. From Jan. 12 to Feb. 13, they will have played 10 of 12 league games away from home.
They notched an 85-78 win at Northern Kentucky on Thursday and are 7-7 on the road overall.
“It seems like — as an outsider, because I’m not there — that they’ve embraced it,” Donlon said of the strenuous travel. “That will make them a tough out.”
Wright State and Oakland trail first-place Valparaiso by two games with seven to go, while Milwaukee and Green Bay are tied for fourth another game behind.
But Donlon expects plenty of shuffling among the leaders before the finish.
“Don’t look at standings until that last weekend,” he said. “There’s too many good teams and too many games to be played. We’ve just got to continue do our job to the best of our ability.”
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.