The Griffons are back on the road to play the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats after a three game home stand, which included a 61-63 buzzer beater loss to Pittsburg State University.
Although Southwest Baptist is one spot ahead of Western in the MIAA standings, both teams have .500 records at 8-8 and 7-7 respectively.
Head coach Brett Weiberg knows that this game is important for many reasons.
“It is important because it is a game that will put us above or below them, depending on the outcome and because it is our next game,” Weiberg said. “We try to just take one game at a time and in this case it just happens to be SBU.”
The mindset all season has been to focus on one game at a time, according to Weiberg.
“We try to control what we can control so we can control the day,” Weiberg said. “We focus on one game at a time, one practice at a time, trying to get a little bit better.”
Even though both teams are .500, Weiberg believes that the Griffons hold slight advantages over the Bearcats.
“I do think we might have a little edge in quickness and I also think we could have an edge on 3-point shooting,” Weiberg said.
Western will have to figure out how to work around Southwest Baptist’s guard Menas Stephens who leads his team in rebounds and blocked shots. The Griffons will also need to create a game plan to contain Stephens on offense, who leads his team in points.
The Griffons will lean on their senior leadership for guidance during the game.
Of those seniors, leading scorer Cortrez Colbert, will be counted on to lead the offensive front along side freshman 3-point leader Cole Clearman. Their defense will need to be stingy and will depend on forward Kevin Thomas, who leads Western in both rebounds and blocks.
Bench players could also be an important piece to being successful according to forward Currie Byrd.
“Bench scoring helps a lot because sometimes when the starters are struggling they need guys to come off of the bench and be a little spark plug,” Byrd said.
Western will be without former leading scorer Ryan Devers who has been off of the roster since mid-December due to academic ineligibility. The team has quickly adapted to the loss, explains Weiberg.
“What we lose the most is the scoring aspect, but everything else, we are as good or better,” Weiberg said.
The Griffon’s leadership will be put to the test as they travel to Bolivar, Mo., to face the Bearcats on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 3:30 p.m.