Jan. 11, 2013
Funk’s energy helps ‘Cats on tough road swing
Tipoff: Saturday 3:30 p.m.
Stadium: MWSU Fieldhouse
Radio: Bearcat Radio Network
John Coffey (play-by-play), Matt Gaarder (color);
Heard on on seven stations that covers four states in the Midwest, and on the Internet from the flagship station KXCV.
Rankings (NABC Top 25)
Missouri Western: NR
Series: The Bearcats hold a 41-34 all-time advantage against the Griffons and have won the last five meetings.
Northwest: Ben McCollum (Northwest '03) 54-40 (4th season)
Missouri Western: Tom Smith (Valparaiso '67) 613-453 (25th season at MWSU, 38th overall)
Game Quick Links
By David Boyce
The energy junior Tyler Funk gave in a mid-December practice for Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team was unmistakable.
Whether he made a jump shot or missed, he raced down the court with a determined look on his face. He was going to stop the other team from scoring.
It was practice, not a game, practice.
It does not matter to Funk.
The effort he gives when only his coaches and teammates are watching is the same as when the Bearcats are playing their rival Missouri Western.
“Tyler and Bryston (Williams) really bring that toughness and energy in practice that we need in practice,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “You can always count on them to be ready to go. Every practice Tyler will go after you. He doesn’t make a lot of friends at practice, but they love having him on their team.
“Practice, to me, is more important than the games. In the games, he makes a huge impact. He brings a different look off the bench. In 75 percent of our close games, he has finished them because he is so smart. He is locked in. He knows the other team inside and out.”
Funk understands that Saturday’s opponent will present a tougher challenge than its record might indicate.
Northwest, 11-2 overall and 4-0 in the MIAA, is playing its third straight conference road game when it takes on Missouri Western, 6-7 and 2-3, at 3:30 p.m.
“Even with teams that don’t have good records it is going to be a tough environment at their place,” Funk said.
“Most of the time you are going to shoot well at home. You have to take the crowd out early on the road. That is what we did at Missouri Southern.”
Funk and McCollum agreed that defense is definitely the key to succeeding in road conference games. It is exactly what the Bearcats did to nab two wins last week at Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State.
“That was really big for us,” Funk said. “We played a lot of home games at the beginning of the season. We had two tough environments at Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State. I had never won at Missouri Southern and Pitt State knocked us out of the tournament last year.
“To go and get those two wins and find out we are the only undefeated team in conference play is even better. We want to keep that momentum going.”
In order to do that, Northwest needed a good week of practice. The Bearcats had the midweek bye this week. They don’t’ get anymore the rest of the regular season.
“Hopefully, we will keep sharing the ball and that will make teams unable to lock on one person. You have to stop the whole team,” Funk said.
“One thing coach preaches is for us to make other players on the team better. We have a good group of guys who just like to hang out together off the court. I’ve been with some good groups and this is a group that is as good as any of them. It has been fun so far.”
During Funk’s senior year at Kearney High School in Kearney, Mo., the football team and basketball team each won a state title.
Like last year’s Northwest basketball team, this year’s Bearcats have the look of squad who will bring some hardware home at the end of the season.
The conference portion of the season is just heating up. The Bearcats are off to a hot start. Funk has helped, proving you can have plenty of value to a basketball team without averaging in double figures.
Funk is averaging 4.1 points per game, but his impact is much higher.
“He exemplifies everything it means to be in this program,” McCollum said. “He has made the most of everything he has been given. He is tough. He is deceptively athletic. He plays with a lot of heart.
“He never has a bad day. He’s that kind of kid. Whether he plays one minute or 30 minutes, he is going to have an impact on the game in some shape. He is just a special kid.”
The way Funk sees it is every player on the team has a special role that contributes to the success of the Bearcats.
“All the guys are focused on winning that game and that is all that matters for the players on this team,” he said. “We know how important each player on the team is, even the ones who don’t get to play much. What they give us in practice is huge to get us ready for the teams we play.
“Right now, we have a really good group of guys this year. It is going good so far. Hopefully, we can keep it up.
“It is that much more fun when you accomplish it together instead of one guy carrying the whole load.”
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468