Jan. 6, 2012
Haake and ‘Cats dialed in for stretch run
By David Boyce
Two times in Northwest Missouri State’s 64-53 victory over Missouri Western Wednesday evening, senior Kyle Haake showed his value as a three-point shooter.
Just before halftime, the Bearcats saw their lead slip to one point. Junior point guard DeShaun Cooper drove the lane and kicked it out to Haake in the corner. Haake drilled a three-pointer, giving Northwest a four-point halftime lead.
Midway through the second half, Haake did it again, halting the Griffons’ momentum with a three-pointer that put Northwest in front 48-41.
“When you have a shooter like that, it leaves the paint wide open because they have to guard him every time,” Cooper said. “It is great for me, it is great for him and it is great for our big players.
“He steps up and hits big shots. He’s a leader on the team. He’s a good player.”
Haake is shooting 42 percent from three-point range. He ranks seventh in the MIAA.
Judging by those numbers, it is easy to assume Haake is the Bearcats designated bomber, but his game is so much more than the three-point shot.
The pull-up, 15-foot jumper is something he enjoys more. It was the skill he brought to Northwest four years ago from Harlan, Iowa.
“That is more of his strength,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “We turned him into more of a three-point shooter to get him on the floor. He actually developed the three. He was always a solid three-point shooter, but not a knockdown three-pointer shooter where you had to stay home on him. Now you have to stay home on him. He still has his mid-range game.”
Hard work and perseverance have allowed Haake to develop an all-around game. As a freshman he made only four starts. He appeared in 19 games as a sophomore and started 12 games as a junior.
Those seasons were tough because the Bearcats failed to make the MIAA Tournament.
Despite the disappointing finishes in each of the last three seasons, Haake always knew he was at the right school.
“I don’t like to jump around,” Haake said. “I like our coaches, our trainers. We have a really nice facility. It’s a good place. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Now Haake and seniors Jake Reinders and Jake Petersen are reaping the rewards of plugging away during the lean years.
Northwest heads into this afternoon’s game against Truman at Bearcat Arena with an impressive 11-1 overall record and 5-1 in the MIAA. Truman is 4-9 and 2-4.
“It is awesome,” Haake said. “Me, Jake and Jake Petersen have put in a lot work. We have invested a lot of time here. We finally have a great bunch of guys to work with. It is just awesome.”
McCollum appreciates the things Haake has brought to the Northwest basketball program even when he wasn’t getting much playing time.
“He continued to stay positive and continued to stay loyal to me, the program and his teammates,” McCollum said. “He continued to work hard. That’s what you expect out of your four-year players.
“It is saying something even more for a four-year kid that hasn’t made the conference tournament in three years and has stuck with it. He really earned it.
“He’s a huge part of the turnaround so far. To me that is more difficult than coming into a winning program and continuing a winning tradition.”
The tough part comes now for the Bearcats. There is enough evidence to prove that Northwest is for real. No team will take them lightly, like they are a second-division team.
“We are going to get everybody’s best shot,” Haake said. “We will have to be physically and mentally tougher. We have to focus on a lot of little things to make sure we are fundamentally sound.”
McCollum is confident Haake will be able to handle the challenge.
“He is very, very composed. He is a thinker. He knows the scouting report better than I do, generally,” McCollum said. “He makes sure his teammates know the scouting report as well.
“On the floor he is very focused. He’s not a yes man, either. He will come back at you. If he doesn’t think it is right he will let you know in a positive manner. I think that’s good for players to think for themselves. He thinks for himself.”
Haake applies those same attributes in the classroom.
“He is an unbelievable student,” McCollum said. “He’s been accepted to one physical therapy school and hopefully we will hear from another.”
On the court, Haake’s teammates know what to do when he gets hot like he was Wednesday against Western when he made all five of his shot attempts in the first half.
“All you have to do is give him the ball,” Cooper said.
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