Dec 4, 2012 11:54 PM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports
MISSOULA - There's some great news for Grizzly basketball fans - Will Cherry is back on the court. The star senior point guard returned to practice this week, after sitting out the whole season so far with a broken foot.
Cherry is trying to take it slow in his recovery, but he couldn't help himself early in Tuesday's practice, throwing down a huge dunk in the opening minutes. He is using a brace, which makes him wear a shoe one size bigger on his right foot. But he says it's so much better than his old walking boot.
"Oh man, it's feeling terrific man," said Cherry. "I can do a lot of things I couldn't do while I was in a boot. I've been out for almost 12 weeks now, so I've been able to cope with it in many different ways. As far as soreness in my foot, there's nothing. You know, but I know different movement can probably tweak it. You know, so I probably won't know until I'm cleared to go 100% in practice."
"It's just exciting to see our senior leader, a guy that means so much to us," said head coach Wayne Tinkle. "You know, somebody asked me, what's he worth? You know, how many points is he worth? And it's hard to put a real figure on it, but it's got to be at least 10-12 points on either end, offensively and defensively."
Tinkle said they could use Cherry as soon as this Saturday's against Carroll College, but that will be a game time decision. He wants to get his star back in the rotation before conference play begins on December 19th.
When he first suffered the injury in a pickup game before the season, Cherry looked for advice from another Oakland native, and former rival Damian Lilliard, who suffered a similar injury at Weber State.
"I actually talked to Damian Lillard the first day," said Cherry. "That Saturday it happened, hours after I broke my foot, you know I was on the couch and I called him. And I was just asking him what it was like. How did he go about it, you know. His best advice to me was to do what's best for Will Cherry. It was going to be hard for me to get out there and rush it, you know. But every little thing let the trainers and the doctors know. You know, cause it can be something huge."
You could feel a little extra energy in practice on Tuesday. Sophomore guard Jordan Gregory, who has seen his playing time increase with Cherry out, said he's Cherry's "biggest fan." And he couldn't wait for #5 to take the court in a game.