Feb. 8, 2013
Cozad stepping up for Bearcats
Tipoff: Saturday 7 p.m.
Stadium: Lee 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)
Series: Washburn leads the all-time series 58-35. Northwest won both regular season meetings last season, however the Ichabods took a 69-60 victory over the Bearcats in the first-round of the NCAA tournament to end the Bearcats season.
Northwest: Ben McCollum (Northwest '03) 58-43 (4th season)
Washburn: Bob Chipman (Kansas State '73) 735-301 (34th season)
Game Quick Links
By David Boyce
Sophomore center Grant Cozad has the type of friendship with teammate Dillon Starzl that he can tease him to get a smile during a tough time.
Cozad was like all his Northwest Missouri State teammates when Starzl went down with a knee injury early in the game at Central Missouri on Jan. 26.
Starzl was the inside force for the Bearcats.
“When you see an injury like that,” Cozad said, “you always worry about it.”
Cozad, along with teammate Tyler Funk, have been through this before. They played together at Kearney High School. They have seen Starzl suffer an injury before.
Cozad and Funk have an idea what Starzl is going through and what buttons to push to keep him upbeat.
“He is a friend and a roommate,” Cozad said. “Most of the time you let him be. You joke with him sometimes and tell him he is soft. I tell him to take care of himself, ice it up.”
Cozad knows the important role Starzl plays.
“Dill is always sealing and always has the big guy under control,” he said. “His defense is phenomenal inside.”
Starzl said the knee injury will keep him out 2 to 4 weeks. He plans to return before the season is over.
While he is out, Cozad, who is 6-foot-8 like Starzl, is filling in nicely. Northwest is 2-1 since losing Starzl. All three games were decided by one point.
In each game, Cozad made positive contributions. In Wednesday’s 59-58 loss at Fort Hays State, Cozad was 7 for 9 from the field and finished with a16 points.
The Bearcats will definitely need that kind of contribution Saturday when they play at Washburn. Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Lee Arena.
“He is going to be huge,” Funk said of Cozad. “I have always thought he had that potential and he showed it early in the season. He is going to get more minutes. I am excited for him. He has always been good for us. He needs to play confident. I have seen it in high school. He will keep getting better.”
Cozad has been a key contributor in the last three games. He scored 19 points in a thrilling 73-72 victory over Northeastern State on Jan. 31 and followed that with 12-point performance in a 52-51 win over Emporia State last Saturday.
“You have to step up in those situations, and I am there to do it,” Cozad said after the Emporia State game. “Obviously, the last game (Northeastern State) I had a pretty good game. I just try to carry it over. I try to take one game at a time. My confidence is going up. I can’t let a couple of turnovers I had get me down.
“You have to come back from that and understand that you have to be ready to play all the time in the MIAA.”
Northwest coach Ben McCollum has seen that growth in Cozad even before the last three games.
Unlike Starzl and Funk, Cozad redshirted his first year at Northwest. It gave him time to develop his inside game and gain mental toughness.
Cozad is able to bounce back quickly from a mistake.
“He has grown,” McCollum said. “From the time he was freshman, I think he might have put his head down in those situations when he made a mistake. He is very hard on himself. He is a very good kid.
“As he has gone on, he has matured mentally. I can get on him now and he goes, ‘what is coach saying to me? I can fix the issues.”
While Starzl is out, Cozad’s role has change.
“It had to of changed a little bit with the scoring of Dillon out. I score a little bit more in the low post,” Cozad said. “I need to rebound more.”
Overall, Cozad has stepped up to the challenge as the Bearcats continue a tough stretch against some of the top teams in the MIAA.
“He is as important as they get, especially his post scoring,” McCollum said. “His defense and rebounding are very important. He will have to step up as far as leadership goes.”
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