Jan. 2, 2013
Bearcat women return to MIAA play
By David Boyce
The grind of a MIAA season begins Thursday evening in Joplin, Mo., for Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team. The Bearcats enter in a perfect frame of mind.
Northwest went into the Christmas break on a four-game win streak after beating Midland Lutheran 78-45 on Dec. 17.
“It was huge,” said Northwest first-year coach mark Kellogg about finishing the first semester strong. “We gained a lot confidence. We are trying to find ways to keep that edge. We are not going to let it go to our heads. We are not anywhere near that.”
At 8-2 overall and 2-0 in the MIAA, the young Bearcats are still in the learning process of what it takes to be successful on a nightly basis.
It sure helps to have those victories when you take the mandatory time off. The food taste better. You hear more compliments and you can enjoy your time with your family.
During the time off, Kellogg’s young family visited Dallas and then Montana. He left his computer home.
“We had to pack for two climates all in 7 days,” Kellogg said. “It was a lot of travel but it was OK. We saw a lot of aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents.
“For the most, it allows you to re-energize and get away. The only downside is from the players’ perspective. We had nine days off. You hope they maintain their conditioning.”
Kellogg only wanted his players to stay in shape and maybe shoot a few baskets. He did not want them to play pick-up basketball games.
“They looked about usual,” Kellogg said. “They didn’t make any shots the first two or three practices.
“When they come back they don’t shoot it as well because you are playing at a faster pace. Our shots were all over the place.
“We ended up with a week of practice so we are going to be OK. We are making shots now. I think we are back.”
The first test is about 24 hours away. Missouri Southern is 6-3. The Lions beat a traditionally strong Drury team on Dec. 1, but has since lost two straight so the Bearcats are facing a hungry team.
“They are aggressive on the perimeter and physical inside the paint. They are going to get after us,” Kellogg said.
“And then we go to a ranked team at Pittsburg State (on Saturday) and play a nationally TV game. It will be a real good test for us.
“All these teams pose a different challenge. They play different ways and different styles. I’m excited about it. I hope we can get the wins and keep moving in the right direction.”
Kellogg wants to make sure his team keeps its edge as they play some of the top teams in the country. Over the last decade, the top two or three teams in the MIAA are a threat to win a national title.
The Bearcats will go into many of these games with fewer players on their rosters than their opponents.
“We don’t have a lot of depth,” Kellogg said. “That has been one of our challenges. We had one player who had a concussion and another was out with the flu the other day so we had eight players in practice.
“Nothing is going to change in what we do. We are still trying to get better in our system and our style. For us, it is rebounding and turnovers. Most nights if we can rebound and take care of the ball we have a pretty good chance in every game.
“It is going to be a grind. I’m excited to see where we are.”
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