By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Marty Bell might want to consider having the phrase printed on T-shirts and pass them out to his players on the Quincy University men's basketball team.
Bell sat in his office Saturday evening after his team had just lost 78-70 at Pepsi Arena to Southern Indiana, then ranked No. 10 in Division II.
It marked the Hawks' fourth consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference loss and continued their worst start to a GLVC campaign since they started 0-7 in league play in 2007-08. Yet, as Bell pondered the rest of the season, he wasn't feeling doom and gloom. He was feeling optimistic.
His team had just outscored an opponent in the second half for the first time since Dec. 1 and had delivered its best defensive showing in five games against GLVC foes.
As he thought about these aspects, Bell let loose a one-liner that, for a coach who generally relies on coach-speak, sounded like it could be a marketing slogan for his team.
"There ain't no quit in these Hawks, baby," Bell said.
Now it's time to see if there are any more wins in them.
The Hawks (6-7, 1-4) head into this week's two-game road trip seeking their first win of 2013. They'll face Missouri S&T (4-8, 0-5) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Drury (9-4, 3-2) at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
The Hawks were 6-3 after trouncing Robert Morris-Sprigfield, an inferior foe that hails from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, 93-58 on Dec. 30. All seemed right at 18th and College.
Sure, there had been losses to the USCAA's Iowa Wesleyan and Truman State, a Division II program that hasn't had a winning season since 2006-07 and at 5-9 doesn't appear headed for one this season.
Overall though, the Hawks beat most of the teams they were supposed to before the holidays. They were 5-1 at the time in games decided by 10 points or less. They were offsetting mediocre shooting and defense by getting to the free-throw line a ton.
Then came a two-week stretch of games after the first of the year that
included three matchups against GLVC foes that were then ranked in the top 10 nationally.
A 15-point loss to No. 4 Bellarmine on Jan. 3 was followed by eight-point setbacks to McKendree, No. 6 Kentucky Wesleyan and No. 10 USI. Suddenly, the Hawks had become the Kings of the Eight-Point Loss.
"We have to do more," QU senior forward Tyler Thompson said after the loss to USI, "because obviously what we had been doing is not working."
Thompson's willingness to admit that shows the Hawks want to get this thing right.
And in some ways, they're already making strides. Instead of getting outplayed after halftime like they had in their seven games prior to Saturday, the Hawks turned an 11-point halftime deficit to USI into a one-point point deficit midway through the second half.
"Quincy really forced us to play hard," USI coach Rodney Watson said afterward.
For the first time in a long time, the Hawks turned in a near 40-minute effort. Other than a stretch of just more than three minutes midway through the first half when USI went on a 14-2 run, the Hawks were every bit as good as the Screaming Eagles.
Had they shot a little better than 4 of 20 from 3-point range, QU probably would have won the game.
"We just got down a little bit, and we took their best punch because (USI had) just lost (to Illinois-Springfield on Thursday), and we hit them right back," QU freshman Jens Kennedy said.
If wins and losses were awarded based on the winner of each 20-minute half, QU would be 5-5 in the GLVC. Then, increase QU's record to 6-5 because it outscored Illinois-Springfield in overtime of the Hawks' only GLVC win, a 78-75 decision on Dec. 8.
The trouble is, records are figured on the score after 40 minutes. QU doesn't get any bonus points for being competitive or for outplaying an opponent for 20 minutes.
Two-time Super Bowl champion coach Bill Parcells once delivered one of the most repeated phrases in sports when he said, "You are what your record says you are."
Right now, QU's record says it isn't a very good team -- at least not in the GLVC. However, the Hawks have 13 regular-season GLVC games to play.
There's still time to improve. There's still time for QU to show it can be one of the top couple teams in the GLVC West. There's still time because, if what Bell believes is true, there ain't no quit in these Hawks.