Cagers see roster changes

Brice Burge

The offseason has been busy for the men’s basketball team, as its roster has added what head coach Doug Lewis said were “the three best guards in Milwaukee,” and a center to bring more size to the team.

“The main thing about this group is that they’re all competitors and they’re all winners,” NMU head coach Doug Lewis said. “We worked to bring in talent, but also players who knew how to win.”

Quinten Calloway made the All-Wisconsin honorable mention team and the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star game, as the 5-foot-11-inch point guard from Milwaukee Marquette High School averaged 14.2 of the Hilltoppers’ 59.3 points per game. According to Lewis, Calloway has good dribbling skills and can shoot the three.

Terry Nash was the 2010-2011 Wisconsin Little Ten Conference Player of the Year for Wisconsin Lutheran, as well as a Division II All-State selection and first team All-Area by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 6-foot-1-inch guard averaged 14.4 points per game and increased his point total by over 40 percent from his junior to senior years. Lewis is expecting Nash to supply the team with tough defense and use his speed to help continue his offensive success.

Haki Stampley is another two-way guard who will help out the Wildcats after scoring 14.7 points per game at Milwaukee Hamilton High School. Lewis said that Stampley is a great defender who could have been a Division I player, but was recruited to Northern. Stampley has good shooting range and can create offense off the dribble, Lewis said.

Derek Hussinger’s towering 6-foot-11-inch stature will make him the tallest member of the Wildcat squad next year. He averaged 10.3 points per game for the Waukesha South High School Blackbirds. Hussinger has good hands and footwork according to Lewis and weighs a respectable 250 pounds, so he won’t be pushed around in the paint. The center will add some much needed depth at the position, which is currently held by Second Team All-GLIAC North player Jared Benson.

“He’s not a project player where you have to work with him for three years and only get one good year out of him and then lose him to graduation,” Lewis said. “(Hussinger) is a kid who can play behind Benson for a year and get minutes.”

The ’Cats will need the solid guard play this upcoming season. Preseason All-GLIAC North selection Raymont McElroy left the team after the first conference game of the season. Guards Martin Gross and Chris Paquin had problems behind the arc this season, combining for just 72 of 208 three-point attempts made. Another guard, DeAndre Taylor, made the second most points this season, but had problems near the end of the year with a hand injury. However, Lewis believes that after the incoming guards skills are inserted to the team, the offensive output will improve.

“We had no one that could create off the dribble and make opportunities for open shots, either for themselves or the rest of the team,” Lewis said. “We will have that this year, and I expect Paquin’s and Gross’s three-point percentage to go up.”

The team is also currently recruiting two transfer players to come to NMU, but due to NCAA regulations, Lewis was unable to go into more detail. The players will have until the NCAA signing deadline of May 18 to be eligible to play at NMU next year.

Last year, Northern finished 9-17 overall and 4-15 for last in the GLIAC North in Lewis’s first year as head coach of the program. Lewis said his first year wasn’t about the wins and losses, but laying a foundation for the future, and that a veteran front line and a better understanding of what the players expect of the coaching staff has made that foundation strong enough to build upon.

“We will continue to get better as a team,” Lewis said. “Our goals are to win more home games and make the conference tournament. As we get closer to those goals, the better we can be.”