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NCAA Basketball

The Western Illinois Leathernecks Should Be Getting More Attention

Rick Osentoski-US Presswire

There is a college basketball team in Illinois that has recorded eight straight victories. Who is it? Well, you won’t find much about them in the Chicago media. They are the Western Illinois Leathernecks.

The Leathernecks are now 11-3 after their victory over Savannah State. This the best start for this basketball program since 1979-80. They are also 4-0 in the Summit League. Yet, if you looked in the Chicago Tribune, you wouldn’t see anything about the Leathernecks; only a quick four sentence story about their victory.

I think that the Leathernecks should be taken seriously. They aren’t going to be flashy, I understand that. They only score an average of 59.0 points per a game, which ranks them 318th in the NCAA. However, they play tough defense. The Leathernecks have a scoring defense that is ranked fourth in the country with an average of only 52.2 points per a game.

They have a born leader in sixth year senior Ceola Clark III. In 2012 he finished in two top 10 categories nationally. He was fifth in field goal percentage and 10th in assist/turnover. Let’s also not forget that the Leathernecks are being coached by Jim Molinari. Those are pretty good story lines for the media.

I usually hear from people that the reason the Leathnecks aren’t talked about is because of the conference they play in. People say it isn’t competitive. Well, the RPI of The Summit League is 20. The Leathernecks still have to play tough schools such as North Dakota State and, last year’s conference champions, South Dakota State.

If this was any other school in the state, they would be talked about right now. Let’s not take into account the University of Illinois and Northwestern. So, why are the Leathernecks not getting any media attention? I understand that they have never been to the NCAA tournament, but that should make them even more of a story then say Illinois State or University of Illinois Chicago, a team that the Leathernecks beat.

I don’t expect the Leathernecks to be grabbing headlines away from most mid-majors on ESPN or in the national media, but I would think that at least in Illinois, they could get some respect. Yet, the only respect they get is probably down in Central Illinois. Ask people in Illinois about the Leathernecks and they wouldn’t even know they are a Division I basketball program.

I have a feeling that many people are going to be jumping on the bandwagon when they continue their winning ways. If they win their conference championship and punch a ticket to the big dance in March let me be the first to say I told you so.

So, next time you glance at the box score look for the Leathernecks.

What do you think? Do you think Western Illinois should get more attention? Leave a comment and follow me on Twitter @EvanCrum1319