M Basketball: Wildcats on the road, face tough test ahead


Dallas Wiertella/NW

FIERCE RIVALRY — NMU and Tech go head to head on the court last weekend. Next, they go up against the top four teams in the GLIAC, including Ferris State on the road.

Chris Anderson

The Wildcats faced an eight-game win streak riding into last Thursday, when they faced a Grand Valley State team that is lower than normal in the standings this year. The ‘Cats were out played by the Lakers in the final 10 minutes of the game and dropped the much-anticipated match up at home by five points.

“In this case, we were just not tough enough. I think it’s the first time all year for sure, and maybe two years, that I just blame the loss purely on us not being tough enough. In this case, I think it was that simple,” Head Coach Matt Majkrzak said.

Coach Majkrzak is unsure whether it was the team looking at the standings or simply the win streak they had amassed over the last five weeks, but he knows that Grand Valley is never to be underestimated. The Lakers were able to claw back after the ‘Cats were able to build a nine-point lead with 10 minutes left to beat NMU 82-77.

“They are confident because they are so talented and their teammates trust them. It hasn’t been very hard to give them confidence. They show up every day and are awesome at basketball,” Majkrzak said.

The ‘Cats showed poise in the game following the loss as they were able to bounce back with a 15-point win over Davenport behind a 33-point performance by star guard Max Bjorklund. Forward Dylan Kuehl, one of many freshman players also stepping up, had another great game with 21 points, nine rebounds and three steals.

“To their credit, early on there was no jealousy from the other guys of how good those guys were as freshmen, and they just embraced it … I think it says a lot about our team as a whole,” Majkrzak said.

Majkrzak feels the team as a whole is progressing, and with freshmen Kuehl and Max Weisbrod stepping up and giving the team more than one option. The ‘Cats are now 15-4, 7-2 GLIAC, on the season and with Head Coach Majkrzak improving this team each year since arriving, there is nothing but excitement surrounding the Wildcats for the foreseeable future.

“Not that it matters, but when I got here, we were picked last and every win felt like this shocking upset. It’s kind of nice to not be that anymore,” Majkrzak said.

The ‘Cats will be facing one of the toughest tests this season as they gear up for a road trip against two of the top four teams in the GLIAC standings this week. Ferris State, 15-5, 6-3 GLIAC, is right behind NMU at second in the conference. This matchup will have tournament vibes as the two teams are playing very well this season.

“It gets scarier to play a team you beat already. Just in the sense of they are going to come out even more hungry and, if you just look at how teams play against us, we are getting everyone’s best every night,” Majkrzak said.

The Wildcats were able to beat both Ferris and Lake State earlier in the season at home by a combined 27 points during that weekend. The ‘Cats will look to replicate that success and possibly show improvement after having their win streak snapped last week, and with the conference tournament on the horizon.