Thursday, March 9, 2017

Former QU hoops coaches thrive

AS WE DESCEND into March Madness, here's to two former Quincy University basketball coaches who are making their marks on bigger stages.

Steve Hawkins has been the men's basketball coach at Western Michigan University for 14 seasons. He was the coach at QU when I was sports editor at The Whig, and I knew then what many have found out around the country - he's a great coach, and he has it figured out far beyond the court.

Western Michigan has won a bunch of games lately and is playing in the MAC Tournament today in Cleveland. I am a proud graduate of Central Michigan, the arch-rival, but I follow Hawk and his team and I wish them the best.

I find it staggering to believe it was almost 20 years ago to the day that Hawk and his QU team defeated Southern Indiana in a NCAA Division II tournament game in Indianapolis. It went to three overtimes and it might be the most amazing athletic event I have ever witnessed. Twenty years? Really?

Meanwhile, up in Macomb, J.D. Gravina continues to show he's one of the best young coaches in the country - his Western Illinois University women's team just won the Summit League championship Monday. Emily teaches at WIU and was in town Tuesday night for dinner and she was pumped about the game. The player who hit the heroic game-tying 3-pointer Monday, Taylor Hanneman, was in one of Emily's music classes last semester, and Emily is super excited about Western Illinois going to the NCAA Tournament.

J.D. had very good teams during his years at Quincy University. I will never forget before his first game as coach - I was the official scorekeeper for QU back then, and he was all nervous about who was working at the table and if we had enough help. J.D. also practices what he preaches - he was an amazing player and pretty much unstoppable during our NBA (Noon Basketball Association) games.

Go get 'em, Hawk and J.D.!

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