Men’s basketball excited to play at home after four straight on the road

Jon Young

The inside presence of the Michigan Tech’s front court proved too be to much for the NMU men’s basketball team last Saturday, as they lost 77-54 on the Huskies’ home court.

The Huskies inside tandem of Ali Haider and Mike Hojnacki combined for 51 points. Head coach Doug Lewis said Tech did a good job of feeding their big men all game.

“They did a good job of executing as far as getting the ball to their all-conference center, which is Ali, and he really did a lot of damage,” Lewis said. “He had 30 points and 15 rebounds and we always say rebounds are like two points, so really he had 60.”

The ’Cats (0-1 GLIAC, 2-4 overall) weren’t aided by the fact that their big men had to battle foul trouble all game.

Senior center Jared Benson was limited to 15 minutes, picking up four fouls while senior forward Rashano McRae fouled out. Freshmen center Derek Hussinger only 12 minutes.

“Ali got all three guys in foul trouble, he really attacked,” Lewis said. “They just isolated Ali and our guys needed to take a challenge and say hey you beat me before and it’s not going to happen again,” Lewis said.

On the offensive end the ’Cats were forced to make some adjustments, as freshmen starting point guard Quinten Calloway was out of the line-up with a foot injury.

Lewis said anytime you have an injury it hurts the offensive flow.

“Not having a true point guard hurts,” Lewis said. “The most important position in basketball is the point guard. Calloway wasn’t scoring a lot but one of the things he did was get us into our offense and control the tempo.”

With Calloway out, the ’Cats put the ball in the hands of freshmen guard Haki Stampley to quarterback the offense.

Stampley led the team in scoring but was playing out of his regular shooting guard position and Lewis said the offense was having difficulties getting to the rim.

“We didn’t get anything inside and we didn’t get any penetration. We shot a lot of jump shots,” Lewis said. “We shot 29 percent in the first half because we were pretty much a jump shooting team.”

The slow shooting start dug NMU a 35-21 hole at the half. The team shot 58.3 percent in the second half but couldn’t overcome the early deficit.

Tech also controlled the glass outrebounding Northern 38-22. Lewis said his young team is still trying to learn the style of play he expects.

“It’s like a kid who’s touching a fire, until they understand that it’s hot, their going to keep getting burned,” Lewis said. “So when they learn how to do it my way, we’re going to be a better team.”

On the offensive end, Stampley paced the ’Cats with 18 points, 17 of which he scored in the first half.

Senior forward DeAndre Taylor also netted 17 points and grabbed eight boards. Lewis spoke highly Stampley’s play.

“He’s one of the best freshmen in the conference, I knew that coming in,” Lewis said. “Like I said last year when we signed him, we had the steal of Wisconsin.”

The ’Cats will be back in action on their home court this week.

They host the Tiffin University Dragons (0-2 GLIAC, 4-4 overall) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8. Northern has a day off before the Ohio Dominican University Panthers (0-2 GLIAC, 2-4 overall) come to the Berry Events Center. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

“We expect to win; we’ve lost four out of our last five so we need a win bad,” Lewis said. “The thing were going to have to do is continue to get better defensively and rebound, if we do those two things we have a good chance of winning.”