Each week, The Herald-Whig sports staff and a member of the WGEM sports staff will debate a pertinent topic. Here is this week's question:
"Which regional college basketball team is the most intriguing?"
Matt Schuckman, Sports Editor
The longer the Western Illinois University men's basketball team's winning streak goes, the more attention the Leathernecks deserve, especially as they prove they can win on the road.
Yet, for as impressive as their 11-game winning streak is, the Leathernecks don't leave me asking: What's going to happen next?
Yet the Quincy University women do.
Saturday's victory over previously unbeaten Southern Indiana solidified the Lady Hawks as the most intriguing story around. A month ago, this team sent reporters and editors sifting through old media guides to find the worst starts in school history and had them wondering if this could be one of the worst teams in school history.
When you lose 72-66 to Harris-Stowe, you get questioned.
It just so happens that was the last time the Lady Hawks lost. QU is riding a five-game winning streak, that has included handing Bellarmine one of its two losses and ending Southern Indiana's win streak.
So what did QU coach Jeni Garber and her staff do to change the course of this season? Is there something tangible or did the Lady Hawks simply tire of being kicked around? Whatever caused the transformation, it is captivating.
It leaves me wanting to see what kind of wild ride the Lady Hawks want us to go on.
Blake Toppmeyer, Sports Writer
I tip my cap to the Culver-Stockton men's team, which is turning heads with its up-tempo, 3-point frenzy style. The Wildcats are on their way to their best season since the 2001-02 season and are the region's most exciting college hoops story.
The Western Illinois men aren't necessarily exciting and generally win with defense. But the Leathernecks have a good chance of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
Yet, the question posed here is which regional college hoops team is the most intriguing. To me, that's the Quincy University men's basketball team. The Hawks are 6-7 and 1-4 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
This is a program that hasn't had a losing season since it was 11-17 in 2003-04 -- Marty Bell's first season as QU's coach.
Bell did go through a similar tough start to GLVC play in 2007-08, when QU started 0-7 in league play. That year, the Hawks rallied down the backstretch and finished 16-13 overall and 9-10 in the league. Can this team finish in a similar manner?
At least the Hawks make it entertaining. Nine of their games have been decided by 10 points or less. Being entertaining isn't the same as being a winner though. The Hawks still need to prove they can be the latter.
Josh Rizzo, Sports Writer
The Culver-Stockton College men's basketball team is the most intriguing area college basketball team because its success came as a surprise.
Coach Jack Schrader brought in an interesting cast of characters, gave those kids freedom and has the Wildcats off to a 14-5 start. C-SC is nationally ranked for the first time since moving to NAIA Division I and for the first time since the Wildcats were ranked No. 25 in the NAIA Division II pool of the 2003-04 season.
It has to be especially satisfying for Schrader to see such a turnaround from a four-win season last year. Schrader is in his second year at C-SC after spending 16 years at Truman State.
The Wildcats have won with a system tailored to the talent he has on the roster, not necessarily what he would like to run. C-SC is averaging 81 points per game and has attempted 532 3-pointers this season, an average of 30 a game, At Truman, Schrader's teams topped an average of 20.5 3-point attempts per game only once.
The Wildcats also feature one of the most area's quotable players in Marshawn "Houdini" Norris, who averages a team-high 17.3 points per game.
Dylan Austin, WGEM Sports Reporter
I touched on this a little bit last week, so my answer may not be surprising to some of you, but the Western Illinois Leathernecks have been the most intriguing team in my opinion.
What Jim Molinari has been able to do in such a short time is incredible. There were years when I attended Western where we thought, "Will they even make the conference tournament?"
And look at them now.
Not only are they taking the Summit League by storm, but the Leathernecks have a legitimate shot to win the conference tournament and make it to the big dance.
Will that happen? Maybe not., but when was the last time you actually had the confidence that they were fully capable of doing it? I can't think of a bigger achievement in my lifetime than a local college team playing in the NCAA Tournament.
This doesn't take anything away from what the Culver-Stockton College men have done in such a short time either. Talk about basement to the penthouse over night, look no further than the recruiting magic by Jack Schrader.
The Wildcats are fun to watch, and a team that can never be taken for granted because of their athleticism and ability to fill up the scoreboard. I am thankful for a lot of things heading into 2013, and the excitement surrounding local college hoops has got to be near the top.