Metal screws not enough to keep Monroe away from game


Metal screws not enough to keep Monroe away from game

With finals drawing closer, students are rushing to the library to study. Senior forward Matt Monroe, however, is splitting his time between class, work and- of course- basketball.

“I’m pretty stretched for time,” said Monroe. “I try to keep a cool head about it. Obviously, if I didn’t have my faith, I’d be lost.”

Monroe, a mass communications major, is in his second year at Southern after transferring from Northern Oklahoma College.

While at Northern Oklahoma, he averaged eight points and eight rebounds a game in his freshman season with the Jets.

“NOC was good,” he said. “I was able to do some good things there.”

During his sophomore year, Monroe started the season as a team captain and was looking at what would be another great season. Instead, injury struck.

“Things were looking up,” Monroe said. “Then I broke my hand in the first conference game of the season. I ended up breaking the third metacarpal in my right hand.”

Despite the injury, he finished his sophomore season with the Jets and went on to become the Academic Athlete of the Year.

“Between games and practice, I couldn’t get away from the game. I wanted to keep myself surrounded by it,” Monroe said. “So, I taught myself how to play left handed immediately.”

The injury left Monroe with three screws in his hand.

“In the long run, it hasn’t really affected me,” he said. “Sometimes, I forget I ever even broke it.”

Monroe, a bartender at Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant, began playing basketball at a young age, due to a rich family tradition in the sport.

“It’s pretty big in my family,” Monroe said. “My older brother Michael played basketball at the University of Central Arkansas. My grandpa played football, basketball, and ran track for the University of Missouri.

“I pretty much started playing basketball right out of the womb. My third word was ball, right after mom and dad.”

In high school, the Arkansas native was a three-year starter at North Little Rock High School. He averaged 19 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks as a senior.

He was also the All-Metro and All-Conference MVP, a Wendy’s High School Heisman Nominee and a McDonald’s All-American finalist.

“High school basketball was really fun for me,” he said. “It went really well. We went to the state championship game my junior year which was a great experience.”

When he has free time from work and basketball, Monroe enjoys listening to music and reading his Bible.

“I’m pretty chill,” Monroe said. “I really try to keep things mellow and have a good time. Being in college, it’s easy to get stressed out. I try not to let things bother me. I pray a lot.”

Monroe also works for Southern’s broadcasting station, KGCS-TV.

“I’m the AV kid,” Monroe said. “If basketball doesn’t work out, I would like to be a movie and TV producer. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of friends with ideas. I would love to make a positive influence or impact on mass media.”

In his first season at Southern, Monroe averaged 4.9 points per game and 3.3 rebounds.

He also ranked second on the team in the blocked shots, with eight and shot 69 percent from the free throw line as a junior.

As for his second season at Southern and his last year of college basketball, Monroe has a positive outlook on the future.

“It’s weird knowing that this is my last year of organized basketball,” Monroe said. “I’m going to strive to see if I can play somewhere else after this, if God allows it. I want to continue to use the talents he’s given me. If not, I’m OK with that too.”

Like many athletes, Monroe’s goal for the season is to win the MIAA Conference championship.

“I think if we focus and take it one game at a time then anything can happen,” Monroe said. “I want to win the MIAA championship and I believe that can happen if we don’t let anything hold us back.

“The season is going to go well,” Monroe said. “We’ve got a lot of talent and athleticism. We’ve got good team chemistry on and off the court. They are my friends first, then my teammates.”