Jan. 30, 2013
Northwest returns home to entertain RiverHawks
Tipoff: Thursday 7:30 p.m.
Stadium: Bearcat Arena
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)
Northeastern State (Okla.): NR
Series: The Bearcats lead the brief series 2-1 with the RiverHawks. The last time the two teams met was in 2001 at the South Central Regional in Topeka as Northwest took a 62-60 win over Northeastern State.
Northwest: Ben McCollum (Northwest '03) 56-42 (4th season)
Northeastern State: Larry Gipson (Heidelberg '74) 313-252 (16th season)
Game Quick Links
By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri men’s basketball coach Ben McCollum is not one to make excuses. He is too competitive to think a bit of adversity will keep the Bearcats down.
It is that attitude that propelled Northwest to near the top of the MIAA standings despite playing the entire season without first-team All-MIAA point guard DeShaun Cooper, one of the most dynamic playmakers in conference the last two seasons.
The Bearcats will face even more adversity 7:30 Thursday evening at Bearcat Arena when they take on second-place Northeastern State without center Dillon Starzl, who injured his knee 2 minutes into Saturday’s game at first-place Central Missouri.
Northwest wound up losing 60-50 to the Mules in a hard fought game. The loss dropped the Bearcats to 13-5 overall and 6-3 in the MIAA, just barely behind Northeastern, which is 14-4 and 7-3.
“I thought we played hard,” McCollum said of the game against Central. “In the second half, I didn’t think we played real smart, defensively in particular. Our guards didn’t do enough to help our bigs in rebounding and that hurt us down the stretch.”
Despite the injuries, Northwest can move back into sole possession of second place if the Bearcats beat the RiverHawks.
“It is a very big game,” McCollum said. “Every game in league is big, but this one we are trying to gain a game on a team that is right there with you or ahead of you. We want to come out and kind of redeem ourselves after our last home loss and protect our court.”
Yes that is a bit of a painful memory. The last time Northwest played at home it lost 70-65 to a struggling Lincoln squad that is tied for last place in the MIAA with only two conference wins.
After playing six of their previous seven conference games on the road, Northwest should find some comfort being at home the last day of January and then playing four conference home games at Bearcat Arena in February.
That kind of thinking could have some pitfalls.
“I still think our schedule is more difficult right now,” McCollum said. “We have Hays, Washburn, Hays, Washburn. We have Northeastern and Emporia. We have a tough stretch right now. It is almost as difficult as the six out of seven we have on the road.
“Northeastern is really good. Emporia is good and we don’t have Dillon and that is really going to throw a wrench in everything.”
The Bearcats just have to be ready for each game as they come no matter how they come. For instance, this week Northwest is playing Thursday and Saturday instead of the normal Wednesday and Saturday.
“I don’t think it affects our team,” McCollum said. “I’d rather play Wednesday, Saturday, but it doesn’t make a difference. At the end of the day, your kids are either ready or not. You got to be able to handle those types of things.”
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