Basketball seniors bid farewell to NMU

Drew Kochanny

The 2009-10 men’s basketball season came to an end Saturday, Feb. 27 with a home loss to Lake Superior State University, 79-83. The team finished out the season with an 11-15 record, including an 8-14 GLIAC record and fifth place finish in the GLIAC North Division.

Before closing out the season with a loss to Lake State, NMU brought in a win two nights before on Thursday, Feb. 25, beating Saginaw Valley State 74-71. The win gave the Wildcats their 11th of the season, matching last year’s total.

Although NMU only brought in 11 victories on the season, head basketball coach Dean Ellis still found the positives the Wildcats had on the 2009-10 season.

“Our guard play may have been as good as anyone in the league this season,” Ellis said.

Sophomore center Jared Benson throws up a floater against Ferris State. Benson is one of four players returning with starting experience next fall. // Photographer/NW

It’s hard to argue with that statement, as the Wildcats finished the season with all three starting guards earning end of the year GLIAC all-conference honors. Senior Marc Renelique was a first team selection on the All-GLIAC North Division team, sophomore Raymont McElroy was a second team choice, while senior Chris Warner made the North Division all-defensive team.

The Wildcats will be hard- pressed to find a forceful duo of guards as Renelique and Warner were this season on the offensive and defensive ends. Both will have to be replaced heading into next season.

Renelique averaged 17.3 points a game to lead the Wildcats, while ranking sixth in the conference in scoring and first in the conference in three-point field goals made, averaging 3.2 a game.

“Renelique had some absolutely unbelievable game this year, maybe in the history of this program,” Ellis said.

Warner earned All-Defensive honors from the GLIAC for the second year in a row. On the season Warner brought in 6.7 points a game to go with 5.1 rebounds. The senior was eighth in the league with 41 steals averaging 3.8 a game.

“Warner has been a key guy in our program now for five years,” Ellis said. “It’s hard to replace a guy that brings that type of leadership skills.”

The Wildcats will lose six seniors to graduation in all. Departing from the Wildcats are guards Renelique, Warner and Austin Rowe, and forwards Mark D’Agostino, Kyle Hawley and Sebastien Salois.

“It’s a lot of experience and leadership departing,” Ellis said. “It’s going to be a challenge to fill that, as dynamic as they were.”

NMU will return their second leading scorer in McElroy who averaged 16.9 points on the year, ranking seventh in the conference in scoring. Sophomore center Jared Benson brings back a down-low presence the team will be looking to more next season.

Benson ranked ninth in the conference in rebounding averaging 6.1 a game to go along with 9.7 points. His 36 blocks on the year were good for fourth in GLIAC at 1.4 a game.

“We still have a good team coming back next year,” Benson said. “Four of us are still starters, but we lose a lot of depth.”

Along with McElroy and Benson, forwards Mylan Murphy (7.4 ppg) and Eric Hawley bring starting experience to  a team who had the number four ranked scoring offense in the league averaging 70.1 points per game.

Offseason recruiting should help solidify the Wildcats lineup according to Ellis; the center position however looks to be already set.

“We’ll hit every position, I would say, with the exception of center, where we still have Benson and Hawley,” Ellis said. “And Murphy can play down low, too.”

Benson looks for an offseason in which he plans to stay in Marquette over the summer to lift and workout with teammates, as one to become a better player and team leader.

“I plan on stepping up a lot,” Benson said. “I hope they can learn as much from me as I do from them.”