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Western Michigan's Stainbrook Big Reason Broncos Get to Cleveland

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Some things don't show up in the box score.



Excuse me while I towel off after saying that. It makes me feel dirty, believing in stats as I do.

You should be able to tell everything from the box score, and yet if you only looked at Matt Stainbrook's line in Monday's 69-63 win over Ball State, you would miss how much he meant to his team's win.

His 10 points didn't lead the team. He had just one block.

The nine rebounds just begin to tell the story.

Stainbrook owned the paint for Western Michigan. He held the only two big men for Ball State, Jarrod Jones and Zach Fields, to eight total points. He outrebounded them. He forced a number of last-second changes in movement for Cardinals shooters.

There was no other player whose presence on the floor who meant so much for the Broncos.

And yet, you could miss it if all you did was look at the numbers.

Flenard Whitfield's efficiency in scoring his team-high 12 points stands out. That Brandon Pokley pulled in six rebounds from his guard position also pops.

You had to see Stainbrook lope up and down the floor. You had to see him with a hand up against each driving Ball State player.

Sometimes, you just have to see it.

Ball State got 19 points and two assists from Jesse Berry off the bench. He almost single-handedly kept Ball State in the game. But a sequence of shots with seven minutes remaining wouldn't fall for the
sophomore.

You can thank Stainbrook for that.

Western Michigan gets the unenviable task of taking on Northern Illinois, a team they beat twice by a combined 34 points this season.

But that was before the Huskies somehow found the magic that infected them Monday.

I bet Stainbrook, who has at least two inches on every Huskies player, will have something to say about that too.