The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 18, 2014

Former players' accomplishments excite Corn

Southern, Lincoln to collide today

Robert Corn is interested in career accomplishments, not career numbers.

“What’s more important to me over the career is what are your former players doing,” said Corn, the Missouri Southern men’s basketball coach. “We have some outstanding former players who are doing a lot of things. We have some in the medical field. We have some in the law field. We have some in business. We have some in education and coaching. We have some who have followed their dreams of playing professional basketball, but most of them are following the Division II route of going professional in something other than sports. That’s what I’m proud of.”

One of Corn’s former players is in town today when Missouri Southern plays host to Lincoln in an MIAA contest.

Spencer Williams is in his third year as an assistant coach for the Blue Tigers. Williams played guard two seasons for the Lions (1990-92) and then was on the staff as a volunteer assistant coach.

The Lions (12-2, 6-1 MIAA) are second in the conference standings, one-half game behind Northwest Missouri State and one-half game ahead of Central Missouri and Northeastern State. The Bearcats play host to the Mules this afternoon and the Lions next Wednesday night.

The Blue Tigers (2-13, 0-7) are still looking for their first conference victory. They almost notched a league win one week ago but lost 88-85 at Fort Hays State.

“They are athletic,” Corn said. “Our defense has to be solid. We can’t afford to let them come here and get comfortable. If we let them get comfortable and get confidence, then we’re going to be in for a dogfight.”

The Lion defense certainly was solid in Wednesday night’s 70-50 victory over Lindenwood. The 50 points by Lindenwood were the fourth fewest allowed by the Lions in an MIAA game since joining the league 25 years ago. The lower totals were victories over Southwest Baptist (67-45 in 1997) and Truman State (48-47 in 2004 and 89-43 in 2011).

The Lions trailed 25-13 before outscoring Lindenwood 15-1 in the last six minutes of the first half and 20-4 in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Lindenwood went 10 minutes, 19 seconds without a point in the second half and almost 13 minutes without a field goal.

“We know once we get stops, that sets up things on the other end,” said forward Jordan Talbert, who had 10 points, nine rebounds (five offensive) and four blocked shots). That’s where we flourish in transition.”

“That’s how it is in practice,” guard Marquis Addison said. “We have some really competitive practices. We take pride in defense because if we don’t get a stop on defense in practice, we’re not playing offense. ... Even on nights when our shots aren’t falling and we’re not playing the best offense, our defense is something we can hang our hats on.”

“They are buying into it,” Corn said. “They are flying around. It tells a lot about the person. If the person is really interested in winning, than it’s not tough to buy into it. Teams with players who want to win, they are going to buy in and play good defense.”

By the way, since he won’t bring up the subject, Wednesday’s game was victory No. 400 for Corn in his 25-year career with the Lions. He joins Tom Smith (Central Missouri and Washburn), Bob Chipman (Washburn) and Steve Tappmeyer (Northwest Missouri) as the only MIAA coaches to win 400 games.

“I don’t think most of us even knew,” Talbert said. “Coach Corn obviously never talks about his wins like that. It’s a remarkable number.”

“You know how I am. I’m not big on numbers as far as career,” Corn said. “No. 12 (this season) is more important to me because this team needs to keep building and grinding.”

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