Men’s basketball ready for season

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Nate Bellville

The Northern Michigan Men’s Basketball team wrapped up their regular season preparations as they hosted the Alma College Scots in a scrimmage game last Saturday, which they won 85-73. They also won their two prior exhibition games over St. Norbert College and Bay College.

Wildcat head coach Bill Sall said that the team rebounded well despite being unhappy with the first half of play in the Alma game.

“We started off a little slow, particularly through the last 10 minutes of the first half, but we got into more of a rhythm in the second half,” Sall said.

“The nice thing about scrimmages is we have the ability to correct anything on the court right there and get that energy level back where it needs to be.”

Sophomore forward/center Myles Howard said that the team played solid against the Scots.

“Alma was a great team and we played well against their zone, which was one of our weaknesses last year,” Howard said.

The Wildcats are led by all-GLIAC junior guard Naba Echols. Echols returns to the team after leading the team with 17.6 points per game. He also comes back as the fourth-best shooter from the free-throw line (88 percent) in the conference.

“Naba wants to be the best player in the conference without a doubt,” Howard said about his teammate. “Naba said, during the summer, that he was working hard on his game everyday, and I believe that he has the ability to do that.”

Along with Echols, key returning players include sophomore guards Kenton Mack and Sam Taylor, forwards Howard and Will Carius, junior guard/forward Isaiah Johnson and senior guard Jordan Perez. Transferring to NMU is junior center Max Prendergast and senior guard Eddie Torres.

Six incoming freshmen joining the squad are guards Marcus Krachinski and Alec Fruin, forwards Anthony Bethea and Dolapo Oliyanka and forward/center Troy Summers.

Both Sall and Howard noted that depth will be the focal point of the team this year.

“The one thing I’m super encouraged about is the team getting deeper,” Sall said. “If we get 10 or 11 quality players on the roster, I think we’ll be set.”

Howard also said that with Perez and Torres being the only seniors playing for the Wildcats, he wants to see them get a proper sendoff being leaders for them.

“Jordan has been through a lot of rough years here and is expecting to win a lot of games this year. He’s working really hard and he wants to be sent out on a good note,” Howard said. “Eddie is one of those guys that brings 100 percent in defensive presence, so there will be big things coming from him too.”

The Wildcats will face off for the first time in the regular season starting this Saturday against the Lewis University Flyers, and against the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers on Sunday at Michigan Technological University in Houghton as part of the GLIAC/GVC Challenge.

“Out of the six teams we play coming up, five of them made the NCAA tournament last year. It’ll be a challenge for us to start off with,” Sall said on the tournament this weekend. “However, in the same breath, it does prepare us well for conference play.”