FARGO — North Dakota State will have to wait a day before it takes on the University of North Dakota in men’s basketball thanks to a winter storm descending on the Red River Valley. The game was rescheduled for Sunday, Jan. 19, and that’s probably OK with NDSU senior guard Chris Quayle, he’s used to waiting.
He had to wait until he grew before developing as a player. As a freshman in high school, Quayle was 5-foot-5 and 100 pounds.
He grew to 6-3, 150 pounds as a senior in Riverton, Wyo., where he was named the state’s Mr. Basketball and the Class 4A player of the year. Still, with size not his friend and the only offers from a couple of junior colleges and one Division II school, he opted for Central Wyoming College.
“I knew coming out of high school I was going to grow a little more and fill out a little bit,” Quayle said, “so I just felt like going junior college was the right route for me.”
He was correct in his assessment. Quayle is now 6-5, 190 pounds and is playing a big role of late off the Bison bench. He helped NDSU rally from a first-half deficit Wednesday night against the University of South Dakota, a game in which the Bison won down the stretch 72-70 with Quayle part of the lineup.
He played 26 minutes, finishing with seven points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
“A Swiss Army knife so to speak,” NDSU head coach Dave Richman said. “He’s played the 1, 2 and 3 positionally and in the last play the other night we had him in the 5 spot. The best part is you tell Chris you need to know everything and be ready positionally for everything. He spearheaded a terrific run.”
Basketball hasn’t come without medical problems, however. With intense growth spurts in high school and the first year out of it, he endured consistent knee pains and a problem in one heel. Richman said he’s been battling back issues at NDSU.
“Chris is a tough kid,” Richman said. “It’s limited some of his time and growth. He’s sneaky long and a really good athlete and his best asset is he’s a coach’s kid; very cerebral. His impact is greater than a box score.”
NDSU has needed his impact with the absence of starters Jared Samuelson and Sam Griesel. Quayle averaged 8.5 minutes over the first 10 games, including not playing at California State-Northridge and one minute against East Tennessee State. Those were back-to-back games.
“I’m just focused on winning,” Quayle said.
He’s averaged 19.9 minutes, or about one entire half, in the last seven games. NDSU went 5-2 in those games without Samuelson and Griesel. Samuelson appeared ready to go against USD, but Richman wasn’t satisfied he was 100%. Both he and Griesel warmed up but did not play against USD.
It’s not certain if both will return Sunday when the Bison host the Fighting Hawks at 1 p.m. followed by the women’s game between the two schools at 3:30. The NDSU men are 12-6 overall and 3-1 in the Summit League. UND is 8-11 and 2-3.
The Hawks started 2-0 in the Summit, but have dropped three straight. The NDSU game will be their third straight road game.
“It will be more about focusing on us and what we can do,” Quayle said. “If we take care of ourselves as a team, then I’m sure we’ll be all right.”
Richman said there are pros and cons to delaying the game a day for his team. On the plus side, it’s another day to get healthier.
“It is what it is,” Richman said. “As a program, we talk about controlling what you can control and the weather is something we can’t control.”