The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team lost Preseason All-American Micah Till to injury during a 77-48 loss against school rival Indiana University (Pa.) on Wednesday.
Both the men’s basketball team and the university’s office of Athletic Communication have declined to comment on Till’s status, citing a university policy that refuses to release the specifics of injuries sustained by their student-athletes.
Rock head coach Ian Grady said that although Till’s injury definitely affects the team, he is confident in his team moving forward.
“[Micah’s] injury is definitely upsetting to see,” Grady said. “Guys have been stepping up as of late and I am very pleased with it so far.”
Despite being injured, Till currently still ranks as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s (PSAC) second leading scorer with 462 points.
Throughout the season, Grady has acknowledged that his team’s offense has been “ran through” Till. Till has repeatedly said that one of the reasons he chose to play for The Rock was because he was told their offense would be centered around him.
The offense will see a shift in Till’s absence, Grady said.
“Because our offense was primarily ran through Till, there are obviously going to be some adjustments made,” Grady said. “But even when [Micah] was healthy, we still had other players that could be considered ‘go-to’ guys. Although unexpected, I think we are well prepared to have to compete without Micah.”
At the moment, The Rock has only played one full game without Till, beating Seton Hill University 71-67 on Saturday. Grady said he was pleased with the performances of his players, especially that of Julius Palmer. Palmer recorded 10 points against the Griffins, tying his season high, shooting four for six from the field, and collected five rebounds.
“[Julius] hasn’t seen a ton of playing time this season,” Grady said. “With Micah down, he really stepped up for us on Saturday and took advantage of the situation.”
Till’s injury could not come at a worse time. The Rock currently boasts a 16-7 record (13-3 in the PSAC) and sits a game behind IUP (21-2/14-2) in the PSAC-West Division. They clinched a playoff berth during The Rock’s 91-71 win over California University (Pa.) on Feb. 2. With the win over Seton Hill on Saturday, the Green and White is guaranteed at least one home playoff game, according to Athletic Communication.
Senior John Warren II acknowledged his team’s overall attitude shift around the locker room since Till’s injury.
“We all know that we need to pick up where [Micah] left off,” Warren explained. “The playoffs are coming up and we have to make sure we are playing our best basketball in the coming games.”
The biggest hurdle to overcome for The Rock during Till’s absence will be trying to make up for the amount of scoring that he was responsible for, Warren said. Till’s 462 points is currently responsible for about 25 percent of the team’s total scoring (1874 points) this season. Warren, the team’s third leading scorer with 256 points, said he believes that the offense will gradually “open up” by giving more players more opportunities to score.
The Rock proved on Saturday that they can beat a Seton Hill team that ranks ninth in the entire PSAC in total points scored with 1588 and sits in seven place (7-15/5-11) in the PSAC-West Division, just above Edinboro University (7-13/4-11) and Clarion University (5-15/3-13).
Slippery Rock’s first true test against a formidable team with the absence of Till will be Wednesday’s matchup with Mercyhurst University. The Lakers (16-4/11-4) have been on fire of late, winning eight straight and nine of their last 12.
Warren said he believes his team will be able to compete with Mercyhurst.
“We just have to make some adjustments on the court,” he said. “Mercyhurst is a good team with some very talented players but we’ll be ready to play come Wednesday.”
Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m.