Dec. 5, 2008
Henry's Newest Challenge: 10 New Teammates
By Maggie Corwin '12
Hunter Henry has been a staple on the Northwest Missouri State men's basketball team and around the MIAA the last three seasons. He's played in more than 90 collegiate games and continues his assault on the record books with every contest. Against Emporia State Wednesday, he scored a season-high 25 points and added 10 boards for his 17th career double-double.
Henry was a team MVP at Shawnee Mission High School in Lenexa, Kan., where he caught the eye of the staff at Northwest Missouri State.
"My assistant and I saw Hunter in high school and we liked his game," said Northwest men's head basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer. "The question, though, was is he strong and physical enough to play college basketball? Will he be a senior or junior before he can play?"
At 6-9, 190 pounds as a sophomore, Henry rose to the challenge and was named the MIAA Most Valuable Player, a feat accomplished by three previous Northwest players, all of whom were seniors. Two years later, he faces his newest challenge. As Northwest's solo senior, Henry must lead 10 new teammates and just two other returners.
"Hunter brings experience to the team," said Tappmeyer. "He's been here four years and knows how the system runs and has seen it work. I think Hunter's making a real effort to be a leader even though our team right now may not be a real easy team to lead because of inexperience; they haven't totally bought in on trusting the system that we've had a lot of success with."
"It's a lot different having so many new guys on the team," said Henry. "We've progressed slower than normal, but it's a challenge I've enjoyed. I like coming out everyday knowing that we have to work harder than everyone else to get to the same place."
"With 10 new players our biggest challenge is coming into a new system, understanding it and learning to play together in it," said Nick Mikle, a freshman guard from Lee's Summit, Mo.
Working with a young team can prove frustrating at times but Henry explains it as something you have to work with.
"I don't view it as an obstacle," said Henry. "I see it as a challenge. An obstacle is something you can't get around. I think we can fight through the newness and become a better team because of it."
"Our team saw six seniors graduate last year, and we lost another to a transfer," said Tappmeyer. "So the team is a bit lopsided this year, but this does happen occasionally."
"We have high hopes for the season, but its tradition," said Henry. "You have to have high expectations or you're not setting goals."
Henry's averaged 17 points and more than eight rebounds through five games this season, ranking in the top four of the MIAA in both categories. He moved into the top 10 and into eighth place on the Bearcats' all-time scoring list this week. He's fifth in career rebounding, third in blocked shots and eighth in steals.
"It's cliché. As a senior it's your last time around and you want to go out on top," said Henry. "As the only senior on the team I also have to be a leader and show everyone how we do it here."
"Hunter is a big motivator for our team," said Mikle. "He's our leader, our captain. He sets the tone and we feed off of him. You can hear him in the huddles. He's a smart player, and the biggest thing about him is he plays all the time and doesn't take breaks."
To Henry, age doesn't matter on the court.
"If you're a player, you're a player," said Henry. "It doesn't matter how old you are as long as you come out on the court ready, and know what to do."
Henry and the 21st-ranked Bearcats continue league play Saturday at Washburn, a team Northwest beat 50-49 in the MIAA tournament semifinals a year ago. Henry was named tournament MVP last March after averaging 13.3 points and nine rebounds in leading Northwest to the title.
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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