Toppmeyer: Six-game stretch will help define Hawks' season

Posted: Jan. 2, 2013 10:31 am Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 10:57 am

The most important figure from the Quincy University men's basketball team's journey through the nine games on the 2012 portion of its schedule is the 6-3 record the Hawks compiled.

Yet, there is another figure that is almost as noteworthy. That's the 36-55 cumulative record of those opponents.

The Hawks' schedule now gets considerably more difficult, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday with a Great Lakes Valley Conference game at Bellarmine. The Knights are 8-0 and ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division II.

Thursday marks the start of a tough six-game stretch against GLVC foes for QU that includes four road games. During that stretch, the Hawks will face No. 9 Kentucky Wesleyan, No. 14 Drury and No. 17 Southern Indiana. The cumulative record of QU's next six opponents is 40-11.

Suffice it to say, the next six games will tell us a lot about this QU squad.

QU, which is 1-0 in GLVC play, gained some confidence going into Thursday's game with a 93-58 win over Robert Morris-Springfield on Sunday. It marked the Hawks' first win this season that came by more than 10 points.

However, it also came against an opponent from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. QU's 2012 results also included a 69-66 win over NAIA's Hannibal-LaGrange University, an 83-82 loss to the USCAA's Iowa Wesleyan and a 67-57 win over Ohio Valley (W.Va.), one of the worst teams in Division II.

The Hawks' only win so far against a team with a winning record was an 81-74 victory over Lindenwood on Dec. 1. Central Missouri is the best opponent QU has faced and is the only opponent it played on the road. The Mules beat the Hawks 77-59 on Nov. 28.

Thus, there are plenty of question marks remaining about this QU team. Still, the first month and a half of the season provided a few answers.

We learned freshman Grant Meyer has promise at the point guard position, where he's earned the starting spot. He's still prone to making a few too many turnovers with some careless passes, but he's also made big plays at times on both ends of the floor.

We learned senior Tyler Thompson can still be a factor after blowing out his knee and missing last season. Thompson is averaging 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, and the 6-foot-5 forward has shown he's capable of playing center if needed, giving the Hawks the option of using a small, quick lineup.

We learned junior guard Chris Babbitt is every bit as important for this team as was expected going into the season. Babbitt leads the Hawks in scoring (12.6 points per game), rebounding (5.8 rebounds per game) and minutes played (28.2 per game).

We've also seen QU show a tendency to struggle pulling away from opponents after it takes a lead. And we've learned the Hawks aren't as good defensively as they hoped to be. QU's scoring defense (allowing 69.6 points per game) ranks 13th in the GLVC and field-goal percentage defense (opponents are making 46.9 percent of their field-goal attempts) ranks last in the 16-team league.

Right now, it's hard to say whether the Hawks can possibly contend for the top spot in the GLVC's West Division or if they are even good enough to make the 12-team GLVC Tournament.

The first nine games haven't told the full story of how good this QU team is or isn't. The next six games will.




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