Race for GLIAC Tournament spot continues

ON+THE+BUBBLE%E2%80%94As+of+today%2C+the+NMU+Men%E2%80%99s+Basketball+team+is+out+of+the+GLIAC+Tournament%2C+but+senior+guard+Sam+Taylor+looks+to+lead+the+%E2%80%98Cats+into+the+postseason.+Photo+courtesy+of+NMU+Athletics.

ON THE BUBBLE—As of today, the NMU Men’s Basketball team is out of the GLIAC Tournament, but senior guard Sam Taylor looks to lead the ‘Cats into the postseason. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

The chase to clinch a spot in the GLIAC Tournament begins now for the NMU Men’s Basketball team, and things are about to get interesting for the Wildcats with three regular season games left.

After dropping two road games this past weekend to Lake Superior State University (LSSU) on Thursday, Feb. 13, and to No. 13 Ferris State University (FSU) on Saturday, Feb. 15, the ‘Cats sit in a tie for eighth place (8-9 record in conference play) in the GLIAC standings. Despite losing both games, Head Coach Matt Majkrzak thought that his team got better, and that they need to reset for this tough upcoming stretch of games.

“This week we talked about it, in a lot of ways it’s a three-game season, everything that has happened to this point led to where we are now in playoff mode,” Majkrzak said. “The playoffs for us turn out as a three-game season. We go 2-1, we’re in [the conference tournament] barring some crazy stuff, 1-2 we’re going to be right on the cusp, and 0-3 we’re out.”

This weekend, the Wildcats begin the difficult three-game homestand with games against the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Lakers on Thursday, Feb. 20, and Davenport University (DU) Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 22. All three teams, including NMU’s last opponent in Michigan Tech, are in the top four of the standings. However, the ‘Cats had strong showings against all three opponents in the previous meetings this season, leading to three road victories. In order to get a spot in the GLIAC Tournament, NMU needs to step up once again.

“That was our best weekend of the year, going and winning those two on the road, right now Grand Valley is tied for first, and Davenport is tied for third. When I just look at the season, that’s kind of what I look at, is on the road we’ve done our job to be probably the fourth of fifth place team in the league, and at home, we’ve probably been 11th or 12th,” Majkrzak said. “So now we end the year with three of the best teams to our home, and if we can flip that trend, we’ll make the conference tournament, and we’ll put ourselves in a spot where we’re going to have another chance to win a game.”

Even with a spot not clinched, the playoffs have essentially begun for the ‘Cats, where every game is now important. It’s been a long road of a season for NMU, but they have a chance to keep it going with a big opportunity in front of them.

“It’s one game at a time still, but it’s still that three-game season. We’ve done enough good stuff to put ourselves in that position, and we’ve done enough bad stuff to put ourselves in that position,” Majkrzak said. “All of that’s out of the window, and it’s really about trying to find ways to get a win one at a time.”

The Lakers and Wildcats tip-off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20.