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Breaking the Catawba Curse

Joshua Stewart, Sports Editor

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If you’ve been following Catawba Men’s basketball over the years, then you’ve most likely picked up on a horrible reoccurring theme. Players past and present have referred to this omen as “The Catawba Curse.” Since the arrival of Head Coach Rob Perron in 2014, Catawba teams loaded with potential in the preseason start strong off the gate, and then are inevitably doomed by key injures and ill-timed slumps. In 2014-2015, a young Catawba team poised for a title run saw, then sophomore, Rakeen Brown’s season end to a knee injury. The Indians never recovered. The next year, first team All-South Atlantic Conference forward KJ Arrington injured his knee in the off season and would miss every game. Injuries to freshman Malik Constantine, and a brutal sophomore slump from Jerrin Morrison sunk the Indians’ title hopes for a second straight year.

As of right now, the “Catawba Curse” lives on. After posting a tremendous 16-6 start to the season, our beloved Indians find themselves on a 3 game losing streak. The question is: Can the boys break the curse and finally capture that elusive championship? Right now, the future looks pretty miserable, especially with an untimely injury to sophomore guard Jordan Barber. However, it is possible for Catawba to turn this season around and earn the hardware they have desperately coveted. Here’s how they can do it.

One of the most underrated factors to Catawba’s title run is Andrew Patrick Ingram. This senior from Bowie, Maryland posted three straight games with at least 10 points in late January. The Indians also happened to win every one of those games. This resulted in a win streak that would ultimately last 6 games. If you’re into numbers, in the 5 games where Ingram has posted double figures, the Indians have won 4 of them. Ingram has since lost his groove scoring a combined 4 points in the past two contests. Both were Catawba losses. If the 6’3” wing can continue to get involved on the offensive end, the Indians are arguably the most dangerous perimeter team in the SAC.

Another obvious factor to the Indians’ championship dreams relies on the grit of redshirt senior KJ Arrington. Despite posting an impressive season average of 16.5 points per game (second on the team), the 23 year old Virginia native has averaged just 9 points in the past two games. Again, the Indians dropped both. Arrington without question serves as the heart and soul for this basketball team. Coming off of season ending knee surgery, the fiery senior has used his focus and determination as a rallying point for this squad. A meniscus injury that occurred prior to competition has forced the senior to play through this season in immense pain. Perhaps the collateral effects of knee damage could be taking its toll on the war torn Catawba great. If the Catawba Indians are to make any type of post season run, they will need one of the gutsiest performances ever by their leader.

While accomplishing this goal will most definitely be a team effort, I don’t think anyone is more important to the Indians in this title pursuit than Malik Constantine whose inaugural year was tumultuous. An onslaught of foot injuries resulted in a medical redshirt, robbing a talented Indian team of an explosive forward full of highlight plays and rebounding potential. This season has been more of the same. However, there was a stretch where Constantine was able to play in six straight games. During that stretch, he averaged 13 points and 7 boards. More importantly, the Indians won 5 out of those 6 games. If the Charlotte forward can stay healthy enough to dominate the paint, this team’s chances of bringing home the hardware will skyrocket.

In every game the Indians have played this season, the leading scorer has either been Jerrin Morrison, KJ Arrington, or junior guard Jameel Taylor. Simply relying on those 3 to carry the scoring load will no longer be enough this time of year. With another long season winding down, role players will have to show up big: and more importantly, show up now. Things could certainly be better, but the Catawba Indians men’s basketball team can certainly finish this season as tournament champions. Jerrin Morrison still has ice in his veins. Senior leadership can still propel the team in a positive direction. If the pieces to the puzzle can finally fit together, then the Catawba Curse will be no more.

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