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With postseason basketball approaching, Missouri State University teams continue to enjoy banner seasons. KSMU’s Justin Lux has the details.
When the season began for coach Cuonzo Martin and the Missouri State Bears, expectations were riding high. The team returned all five starters from a 24-win squad that finished the season as CollegeInsider.com Tournament champions.
The Bears have not disappointed, as they have raced out to an 18-6 overall record, while holding down a second place ranking in the Missouri Valley Conference behind pre-season favorite Wichita State.
While enjoying such a successful season, the team has students around campus excited. Senior Grant Bochantin thinks this year’s season is a product of the team’s experience.
“I think the Bears success comes more from their leadership and experience. I mean with a starting staff of four seniors and one junior, experience is everything,” he says.
Led by three-time conference player of the week and potential conference player of the year, Kyle Weems, the Bears look to make a late season push with just six games remaining and a potential NCAA Tournament berth in reach.
Pushing for some attention in the headlines as well are the Lady Bears of Missouri State, who are enjoying a successful season in their own right. With standout Casey Garrison leading the way the Lady Bears have jumped out to a 16-7 record and look to make some noise heading into the conference’s postseason tournament.
Not to be forgotten though are the Grizzlies of Missouri State-West Plains who, with a 23-2 record, are the number one team in the country for the first time in school history.
Following last week’s National Junior College Athletic Association poll, the Grizzlies were able to overtake Connors State in the rankings. Head coach Yancey Walker says the team’s success stems from their chemistry.
“We have the right mix of guys this year and, ya’ know, we don’t walk on the floor and just wow anybody with our talent. I mean we’ve got very good basketball players and the teams that we have played that have been more athletic than we are, we’ve out-basketballed them, so to speak,” Walker says.
The Grizzlies, led by sophomores Quinton Pippen and Demetrice Jacobs, continue regional play this Saturday when they travel to Poplar Bluff to take on Three Rivers Community College.
For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.