The season started slower than Oliver Carr liked. The fact it started at all, and ahead of schedule, is almost an afterthought now.
Nearly a year ago, Carr crumbled on the court 24 games into the Carroll College men's basketball season at the PE Center with his right ACL torn.
This September, two or three months faster than expected, trainers medically cleared Carr to return to the court. Eight months of not playing hoops and longingly watching his teammates play in pickup games, Carr stayed motivated to complete his task at hand.
“Every day I wished I could play in the open gym games,” he said.
He doesn’t know precisely why his body recovered faster than others, but he imagines lifting ahead of his surgery last winter and diligently rehabbing gave him an advantage.
“I had a good work ethic, so I was able to rehab diligently and try to enjoy it,” Carr said.
Carr did the work and slowly started to task his knee with basketball-related movement. He’d jump for layup, slide side-to-side or cut at sharp angles. The first time he tested his knee, he admits anxiety got the best of him. After that though, his confidence allowed him to move on.
“Once I had done it once I felt strong and felt confident,” he said. “It was pretty easy to pick back up.”
When his teammates scheduled times to play basketball, Carr was there to rehab, isolated, but motivated to return.
“It’s an individual sport,” he said of rehabilitation. “You have to do it on your own.”
That work ethic doesn’t end on the physical side of the scale. The biology major – who coach Carson Cunningham affectionately dubbed The Dentist -- will make a decision of where to attend dental school in the coming month.
In September and October if you checked out box scores, you noticed Carr’s name absent in at least one game. Carr traveled to five schools, interviewing for dental programs. He traveled to Louisville, Washington, A.T. Still University in Arizona, Roseman University and UNLV.
“If you look how hard it is,” Cunningham said of dental school acceptance, “it’s harder than medical school right now. The fact he’s got his choice of dental schools is really remarkable.”
The feel of the school, cost, proximity to Montana and reputation of the school will factor into his decision. At least this much is certain, Carr’s classroom performance have set him up for continued education after his career at Carroll comes to a close.
Though the Saints still have much to do this season.
Carr’s career at Carroll has changed each season. His freshman year, the first recruit Carson Cunningham brought to Carroll College, Carr became the freshman of the year in the conference with a career- best 15.1 points per game. His low-post scoring on his 6-foot-6 frame has been a steady part of his game.
How he’s used – whether as a starter, a second-unit scoring leader or any other role – Carr has embraced each change with a positive attitude. He thinks he’s started this year slower by his standards because of the injury and feeling out his role.
“It’s figuring out where you fit into the team dynamic,” he said.
He scored his 1,000th point this season, and helped the Saints get off to their best start in program history. He’s been a part of a group that’s won the Frontier Conference and now looks to repeat as champions.
Whatever role is thrown his way, he’s accepted and contributed in a meaningful way. Now, he’s playing in his final season hoping to see the Saints continue to make history.
“For some reason, I feel like we’re better (than last season),” Carr said. “Not because we don’t have Zach (Taylor), but having our seniors and have played for four years now and we know each other really well. Ryan (Imhoff) is playing unreal. We’re meshing really well. We have each other figured out. That four years of playing together, has allowed us to be us this great team we are now. Hopefully we can continue our streak for the rest of the season.”