Freshman guard Molly Hartnett defends the ball in the Northwest women's basketball's 78-55 win against Missouri Southern Feb. 13. The Bearcats now lead the all-time home series against Missouri Southern 17-15. 

After a one-week hiatus, I’m back. I know that all of you probably missed the most insight you can find regarding Northwest Athletics. If that’s the case, then I apologize I took a week off. If you don’t care too much, then I’m sorry you’re not cool enough to care about this here mailbag column.

Diagnose the women’s team?

I said earlier this semester that the women’s basketball team is turning the corner into the top-half of the MIAA program. They’re tiptoeing the line between playing in the MIAA Tournament and watching it from home, so it’s the same story as last year.

However, they’re doing it with less. It’s not the Bearcats’ fault, either.

Prior to the season starting, sophomore forward Paityn Rau tore her ACL, effectively ending her season before it even started. She played through a torn labrum in her hip during the latter half of last season and even scored a team-high 12 points in the Bearcats’ season-ending loss to Emporia State in the MIAA Tournament Quarterfinals.

During the first few weeks of the season, redshirt freshman guard Emma Atwood tore her ACL, ending her season earlier than expected. She started all four of the games she played in; she was going to be crucial toward the development of the program this season.

Senior guard Kylie Coleman tore her ACL Jan. 19 in Bearcat Arena against Emporia, effectively ending her final season as a Bearcat (unless, of course, she comes back due to the NCAA granting winter sports athletes another year of eligibility).

Still, they’re 7-9 and fighting for a postseason spot during a season in which the postseason field is limited.

The problem is, they haven’t found any consistency.

The women lost 55-51 to Central Missouri, one of the best teams in the MIAA. The game before that, they gave Lincoln its only win of the season and endured a 26-point loss.

Now, the women have won three of their last four, including the first season sweep over Missouri Southern since 2009-10. It’s hard to imagine where this team would be with everyone healthy. Honestly, the Bearcats would probably be around the No. 5 seed in the MIAA.

If the ’Cats find consistency in these last two weeks of the season, watch out. If not, they’ll have to search for it in the offseason, an offseason that’ll start earlier than they’d like.

They'll be in good shape the next couple of years though, so be patient if you're a fan of Northwest women's basketball.

What’s the best team at Northwest?

This is tricky. I don’t really think there’s a clear answer, either.

Just kidding.

It is, without a doubt, the Speaking Bearcats, which is the forensics team here at Northwest. I mean, the Speaking Bearcats have claimed 27 national championships since 2009. I’d love to see someone try to name a program that’s topped that in the same span.

In fact, if you combined the number of national titles between football and men’s basketball (8) and multiplied that by three, it still wouldn’t be more than the Speaking Bearcats.

Alright, that was my fun for the week.

Throughout the history of Northwest, football’s national championships somewhat set them far ahead of any other athletic program on campus. However, if Ben McCollum sticks around for a while longer, that gap could for sure be narrowed.

What do these people eat?

I’m assuming someone asked this in relation to the physical appearance of the athletes at Northwest. If that’s the case, I’m not sure, because there isn’t really much in Maryville.

I’d assume they eat like the rest of college students, including McDonald’s, Subway, Taco Bell and sometimes Souper Bonanza at A&G. But if that were the case, maybe they wouldn’t be so far ahead of the rest of us.

Ben McCollum is a pretty big fan of steak, but only if it’s cooked for 45 seconds on each side, so maybe the athletes eat steak.

McCollum does, and it’s worked out for him, so maybe he’s spread his secret.

Walk-the-talk is a mailbag that focuses on all things Northwest Athletics. To submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag, tweet @ByJonWalker or email j.walker.missourian@gmail.com.

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