Jan. 2, 2013
Bearcats and Lions tangle in return to MIAA play
By David Boyce
The way Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team played in the first half against Central Methodist on Saturday afternoon probably would not be good enough to win most MIAA road games, if any.
It certainly would not be good enough to handle their next conference opponent. Northwest returns to MIAA action 7:30Thursday evening at Missouri Southern and faces a Lions team that is 6-3 overall and winners of their last three games.
“I think they are really good,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “They play hard. They really pressure. They are well coached. It is your typical Missouri Southern team.”
On Saturday, against an easier opponent, Northwest found itself locked in a 35-35 tie at halftime against Central Methodist.
The Bearcats were much better in the second half, outscoring Central Methodist by 20 and winning 79-59.
“I thought we turned it around in the second half,” McCollum said. “We really guarded them and on top of that, I thought offensively we moved the ball inside out and that was good.
“The biggest thing with those games is to get the kinks out, and hopefully you are in rhythm when you go into your conference games.”
A year ago, Northwest went to Joplin early in conference play with a sparkling 13-2 record and lost 84-76. In that game, Jason Adams scored 31 points.
Adams is gone as is center Keane Thomann, who led the team in scoring a year ago, averaging 21.5 points.
“But all that did is make them do is play together,” McCollum said. “It is always tough playing in Joplin.
“We just have to play our style of basketball. We have to defend in the half court and offensively, go inside-out and get the ball where it needs to go.”
The best part about playing a non-conference game on Saturday was the Bearcats were able to see what they need to work on as they aim to repeat as conference champions.
Northwest is 9-2 overall and is one of four teams that is 2-0 in the MIAA. Missouri Southern and Washburn are both 1-0 in conference.
“I feel like we had a couple of days of quality practice,” McCollum said. “I think we are really focused. We are really well prepared. It is all about if we come out and play with energy and we can handle their runs. If we can do that, I think we have a good shot in this league. If we cannot, you are not going to win too many road games.
“Winning on the road is totally different. You have to maintain your poise, think positively of each other, keep grinding and fighting and keep it close throughout and hopefully win at the end.”
The Bearcats are in a tough road stretch. They will have only one day off before playing at Pittsburg State on CBS Sports network.
“I think Pitt and Southern are pretty similar,” McCollum said. “I think Pitt is a great rebounding team. They both pressure a considerable amount of time. They hope to turn you over a bunch. It will be a little bit different, but not totally.”
And what about the bright lights of TV?
“I think it will help defensively because we will be hyped up,” McCollum said. “We have to have pretty good poise where we stay focused and stay disciplined through those kinds of things.”
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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