Max Bjorklund picked preseason GLIAC Player of the Year as 2022-23 season kicks off


Travis Nelson/NW

HEADING INTO GLIAC PLAY—NMU men’s forward John Kerr hammers down a dunk during the Wildcats’ exhibition win over Bay College on Oct. 28, 2021.

Chris Anderson

Last season was a great one for men’s basketball as they ended the season on a 9-game win streak that took them all the way to the GLIAC championship game against Davenport University. Unfortunately, they were unable to continue the late season push as they lost 100-67.

“Getting picked second in the league was a reflection on what last year’s team did, and I couldn’t be prouder of last year’s team,” Head Coach Matt Majkrzak said. “But it doesn’t really matter for this year’s team.”

The ‘Cats will be faced with increased expectations this season after the strong season. Returning All-American Max Bjorkland was picked pre-season GLIAC Player of the year after a strong junior season. Bjorkland averaged 16.9 points per game and 45.1% from 3-point range.

“He had an awesome year last year. He’s been great in the preseason. We’re just really lucky to have him back for a fifth year and for the last few years,” Majkrzak said.

Although the team has many returners, forward John Kerr left a hole in the leadership role for the team after signing an overseas contract with BC Astrali in Tbilisi, Georgia. Bjorklund and the other returners will be asked to step up and continue to build the winning culture that coach Majkrzak has been instilling in this program since arriving in 2019.

“Bjorkland not only knows kind of what I want, but he’s able to kind of translate some of that to the other guys and the new guys,” Majkrzak said.

The ‘Cats are returning nine players from last year’s team and Majkrzak is happy with how seamless the transition has been as the new guys get integrated into the team. Although the team is returning many players, there are still many starting jobs up in the air as the team prepares for the start of the season.

“I think we have a core foundation of guys that everyone believes in, everyone trusts and then we’re able to kind of build around that core and that’s a lot easier than trying to build from scratch,” Majkrzak said.

The ‘Cats will be kicking off the season this weekend Nov. 12 and 13 in Houghton, MI for the GLCV/GLIAC challenge. NMU will start the weekend against Mckendree University, a team that coach Majkrzak has had some success against, and will be wrapping up against Lewis. Both teams were picked in the top half of the GLVC preseason polls.

The first weekend games are always weird. I almost feel like they’re like out of body experiences to coach in and play in,” Majkrzak said. “Just weird things happen, like guys making shots that don’t make shots for the rest of the season.”