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Hi! My name is Hannah Jenkins, and I am one of the copy editors here at the North Wind. I am a sophomore at NMU, and I love all things writing and editing-related. I am proud to be a part of this great...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Warner and McElroy ‘point’ to victory

the same basketball team could be quite the power struggle, especially if one is more experienced and has played in the big games, and the other is a freshman with no collegiate experience.

And then there’s the case of the Northern Michigan men’s basketball team, which has two true point guards, junior Chris Warner and freshman Raymont McElroy.

At 22, Warner is four years older than the 18-year-old McElroy. Both took redshirts last season, McElroy as a freshman redshirt, and Warner with a medical redshirt to rehab his knee. Warner’s the unquestioned leader of the team, but McElroy has been known to speak up when the team needs to pull it together, whether it be in practice or the big game.

They’re two very different players, with different styles of play and different ideas on leadership, but the thing they both have in common is that they love to win, and they’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

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“I know any coach would take either one of them as their point guard,” head coach Dean Ellis said.

“And we’ve got the luxury of having both of them on the court at the same time.”

Assistant coach Dan Waterman said that the point guard is arguably the most important position on the floor, and having both Warner and McElroy playing at the same time has been, simply put, a gift.

“To have two point guards of that caliber, you feel blessed,” he said.

With two games into the regular season, it’s been McElroy in the point guard spot, with Warner playing on the perimeter. And thus far, it’s worked, to the tune of two Wildcat wins.

“Luckily for us, Chris is so versatile that he can slide over and play on the wing,” Waterman said. “He’s a strong guard, so he can go and even play in the post a little bit for us.”

McElroy and Warner are currently the second and third-leading scorers on the team, respectively, with Warner averaging 14 points per contest and McElroy adding 11.

And, McElroy might not be performing as well in his first season as a collegiate basketball player, if not for the tutelage of Warner.

Big brother

Last season, with both guards inactive for the season, McElroy took Warner’s advice and changed his major to social work.

Warner, already actively involved with volunteering, got McElroy to participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and in the process, McElroy picked up a big brother himself.

And Warner’s advice wasn’t simply about Xs and Os.

The junior guard said his freshman counterpart was still young, but that he’d already grown a lot mentally during his time at NMU, both on and off the court.

“He would actually call me and ask me about situations (off the court). That shows ultimate trust, that he could come to me. And most definitely, I look out for him,” Warner said. “Everyone once and a while, he needs someone to look out for him. And ultimately, we’re in this together, and I don’t want to see anything happen to him.”

McElroy said he appreciates what Warner has done for him.

“I’m basically just taking advantage of him wanting to help me,” McElroy said.

Ellis added that, since McElroy redshirted last season, he didn’t have to go on the road trips with the team, and that helped him better adapt to college life.

“Every freshman away from home has some issues, and all that went past him, and he learned and he grew from there,” Ellis said.

“He’s still 18 years old, but he’s really matured and grown in a year, and that’s really helped his basketball game.”

On the court, Warner’s knowledge took a bit longer to pass along. Over the course of the entire 2007-2008 season, as well as the months following, Warner and McElroy worked together to better one another.

“In the second part of the summer, working out with Chris everyday, I learned more within those couple weeks than I did for basketball in my life, period,” McElroy said.

Warner taught his young protégé every little trick that he thought would help.

“Chris Warner, he has a way to do everything,” McElroy said. “Even boxing out. He just knows so many tricks with the game, and basically I’ve just been using those. And I plan to keep on using those.”

But, Warner insists that he was getting better during these workouts, too.

“We would come in here and work out when we could. We would always try and push each other to get better,” Warner said. “It wasn’t just, show me, show me, show me.”

Competitive nature

During the summer workouts, both guards agreed that the competition quickly became heated.

Whether it was McElroy’s vocal style of leadership, or Warner’s want to win, a simple game of two-on-two would quickly turn into a competition level equal to that of the NBA Finals.

“It had to get like that. It just made it so much easier for us to improve during that time,” Warner said. “Those games in the summer, it’d be contagious. If you lost, it was ‘No water, let’s go right now. Check ball. Game to 11.’ That’s how it was during the summer for us.”

Ellis said he saw the competitive spirit from McElroy the moment he saw him play two years ago.

“That’s how Ray is. That’s how he was when I saw him play the first time, when he was 16 years old,” Ellis said. “He was playing in a pickup game-like, and he couldn’t stand that his team was giving up baskets.”

And Waterman said, though it’s not as apparent on the surface, Warner has that competitive edge, as well.

“Ray’s more verbal about it, but Chris has a burning desire to win too, and that’s apparent from the way that he works,” Waterman said. “And that goes back to him being a leader and people seeing that. When Chris is working hard, everyone knows they need to step their game up and work hard, too.”

Whoever leads the team up the floor on the break this season, it’s clear the Wildcat offense will be in good hands.

“To have the luxury to sit here and try to compare and contrast two point guards that play together is pretty nice,” Ellis said.

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