Men's College Basketball

Hawks chasing history along with GLVC division crown

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 23, 2017 1:50 am

As history beckons, the Quincy University men's basketball team can't ignore it.

The Hawks can't dwell on it either.

Thursday night, the Hawks have the opportunity to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division, which would be their first division crown since 2011. Should they beat Truman State at Pershing Arena in Kirksville, Mo., they would finish the regular season with 24 victories.

That would be the most victories since the 1981-82 team went 25-12 and tied for the third most in program history.

The 1977-78 team went 30-5 and finished third in the NAIA national tournament, while the 1975-76 team went 24-8 and the 1979-80 team went 24-7. All three of those teams, along with the 1981-82 team, were coached by legendary Sherrill Hanks.

"We have to look at it as another game, another opportunity to go out and do the thing that we love," QU senior forward Joe Tagarelli said. "If we get caught up in stuff like that, get caught up in the history, it might throw us off. It happened earlier this year when we got ranked. We looked at us being ranked and thought we were something special. Then we got knocked off right away.

"If we look at what's in front of us right now and not at anything else, it's going to help us out."

It's the kind of approach QU coach Marty Bell expects from a team with six seniors among its top eight players.

"They've been through it," said Bell, whose team has won 20 games for the second straight season and the 19th time in program history. "That's what I'm banking on. I'm hoping they don't get caught up in the hype and stay focused on playing basketball."

Besides, the number that matters more than any other is the region ranking.

The Hawks (23-4) moved up to No. 6 in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region rankings and could further solidify their spot by beating the Bulldogs, who are currently No. 7. There will be one more set of region rankings released next week before the NCAA Tournament bracket is unveiled March 5.

The QU players are well aware of the region rankings, but they might not be as clued in to the historic numbers they are reaching.

However, Bell knows it won't take long for them to figure it out.

"It's more difficult to shelter them from that because of social media, the internet and other things," Bell said. "There's more information out there."

How they handle it will dictate whether the Hawks reach those milestones.

"Part of that is having the maturity to know it's out there, what's being said and that, those are the facts," Bell said. "But those are facts that don't really matter. The facts that matter are Truman State, what do they do and how do we go get a win on Thursday.

"You have to prioritize those things, and these guys have been pretty good at keeping their priorities straight."