Dishing it out with Derek: MIAA Scramble

Column Men's Basketball Sports

With a another losing season guaranteed, the Missouri Western men’s basketball team somehow still has a shot at competing in the MIAA Conference tournament.

If the Griffons make the tournament, I wouldn’t be too terribly surprised as they have been in close games all season long. In fact, I bet there’s a parallel universe where the men are actually 19-5 instead of 5-19 due to how many times they had a chance late in a game to win.

What needs to happen for Western to make the tournament is rather simple: They need to win, everyone else needs to lose. To be more specific, Western needs defeat Lincoln University this Thursday, and they will also need Emporia State to lose out to keep afloat in the tournament race. The top-12 teams make the tourney, while the bottom two’s seasons end after their final regular season game.

The Griffons need to Emporia to lose their final two games as Emporia is ahead of them by just one game win a conference record of 4-13. Northeastern State is tied with Western in the conference standings as both teams sport a 3-14 MIAA record. However, the Griffons hold the tiebreaker over both Emporia and Northeastern. This is where things get interesting.

Emporia and Northeastern face off this Thursday in a straight toss up of a game. It can really go either way. Western needs Northeastern to show whatever spirit they have left and knock off Emporia for them to stay alive. Next, Western will need to defeat Lindenwood University, who is 15-11 overall and 7-10 in the MIAA. Even though Western pulled off an upset of the Lions earlier this season by a score of 63-51, it’s still tough to beat a team twice in one season. Hopefully for Western’s tournament hopes sake, coach Brett Weiberg’s team will be up for the challenge.

If everything falls into place heading into the final week of the regular season, I have a strong feeling that Western’s squad will be playing with everything they got, especially the seniors. Nobody wants to end their collegiate careers on the losing side, and even more so not even playing for something special like a conference championship. Everybody wants a chance at greatness.

There’s no word of any coaching chances, but in all honesty, this is all or nothing for Weiberg. He must make serious splash in the MIAA tournament if his team makes it, with at least two victories inside the tournament to protect his job. Weiberg is currently 46-91 as the head coach for the Griffons. He is also 28-67 in conference play. Weiberg’s team hasn’t more than 10 games since the 2015-16 campaign. While his first three seasons ended with double-digit wins, these last two have seen the Griffons fails to do so again.

Weiberg did lead Western to 70-54 upset victory over Washburn University back in the 2016 MIAA tournament and will have to pull off a similar feat to make a case for why he should stay as head coach for men’s basketball team.