Bloomington, Ind. – Matt Roth is back on track after giving everyone around the Washington (Ill.) Community H.S. program a scare.
Roth knocked down eight 3-pointers on his way to 34 points Tuesday night, leading his prep team to an 80-42 win over Normal Community H.S. With the win, Washington improved to 8-0, and Roth brought an end to a two-game shooting slump that saw him go just 11-of-36 from the floor.
But there was more behind Roth's struggles than simply errant aim. During a Dec. 10 practice, the IU-bound shooting guard was chasing down a loose ball and dove on the floor and injured the wrist on his shooting hand. Initially, Washington Coach Kevin Brown feared the worst.
"When it happened, we were worried that he might have broke it," Brown said.
The injury wound up being just a serious sprain, and Roth returned to the practice floor 15 minutes later. But Brown said the wrist was clearly bothering Roth last week, to the point that the staff considered using him in the post instead of on the perimeter until the pain subsided. But Roth wound up staying in the backcourt, where he scored 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting in a 27-point win over Normal U. High last week and then followed that up with a season-low 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting in a 62-45 win over Dunlap H.S. this past weekend.
His struggles came to an end Tuesday night, though, and his eight 3-pointers gives him 354 for his career, moving him to within 17 of the all-time state record.
"I knew (the wrist) was getting better, and the way he shot it (Tuesday) night, obviously it's quite a bit better," Brown said.
While his ability to knock down perimeter shots is what the 6-3, 170-pound Roth has built his reputation on, he was still a valuable part of his prep team's attack even when he wasn't scoring points in bunches from behind the arc. Brown says his standout he has stepped up his efforts on the defensive end, has become a valuable rebounder, and has also drawn defensive assignments in the post at times as well.
Those parts of his game are every bit as important to Brown, who wants to be sure Roth is as well-rounded as possible when he departs the Peoria, Ill., area school for Bloomington next summer.
"He has to continue to get better at those other things," Brown said. "He's such a good shooter sometimes he falls in love with his shot and doesn't do the other things that he can do. It's challenging, because I want to send Indiana a complete player, a kid that can do more than just shoot the ball."
Brown said it's a consistent theme at Washington's high school practices, as he continues to stay on Roth to continue to refine and polish his game for the next level.
"We talk about it every day, that I'm not going to let up on him," Brown said. "It showed last night. Even though he had a bunch of 3s, he put the ball on the floor really well a couple of times, he used the glass nicely, and he's getting to the free-throw line more. So he's still coming along."
Brown adds that Roth needs to continue to get better on the defensive end as well, but believes he has the tools to do that by the time he gets to IU.
"His foot speed is there, it can be done," Brown said. "But he has to push himself every day. And he is to get better. He hears everyday if you don't guard, you can't play in the Big Ten."
Injury No Longer Slowing Roth
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