M Basketball: NMU vies for first place in GLIAC, celebrates 20-win season


Chris Anderson/NW

UP AND OVER – Star NMU guard Max Bjorklund drives to the basket for the three-point play against the pride. Bjorklund had 24 in the game.

Chris Anderson

The ‘Cats were on the outside looking in last week after a big loss to Grand Valley put them a game and a half back outside of UW-Parkside for first place in the GLIAC. NMU took advantage of a match up against the Rangers last Thursday, stunning Parkside in a 73-47 win at home to close the gap between the top three teams in the conference to a half game.

“It’s not a guarantee you’re ever going to have this success again,” Head Coach Matt Majkrzak said. “So, we’re appreciating it as it’s happening.”

Four players scored in the double figures for the ‘Cats with senior guard Max Bjorklund leading the way with 22 points and seven rebounds. Freshman guard Max Weisbrod also added 15 points and seven assists with zero turnovers on the night.

“Every time you turn it over, the other team is going to get a good shot … as long as I coach, I don’t know if we’ll be good at a lot of things, but we will be good at not turning it over because I can’t watch it,” Majkrzak said.

The ‘Cats have consistently taken care of the ball this season, being one of the few teams in the nation averaging less than 10 turnovers per game. The following game was no different as they only committed three turnovers against Purdue-NW in the 84-78 win. NMU out rebounded both teams this weekend by a total of 90-55.

“When I got here, the idea of winning 20 games seemed unrealistic, but the idea of getting better didn’t and so we just got better,” Majkrzak said.

NMU recorded its first 20-win season since the 1999-2000 season under Coach Dean Ellis. Majkrzak has instilled a winning culture here at NMU and has continuously raised the bar for this Wildcat basketball team, improving their record in each season since arriving here as head coach in 2019.

“It’s taken those steps a little bit longer to get there and even this year we’re starting four freshmen but finally now, I feel like we’re in a really stable place where hopefully every year we can just keep building off of it,” Majkrzak said.

Majkrzak has largely built this roster through high school recruiting and feels the team has an edge as it becomes increasingly hard to keep talent with the transfer portal opening. The recent class that has come in has played a huge part as freshman and are building blocks for the ‘Cats going forward.

“These guys who are young on our team … they know they’re good and they weren’t the under-recruited guys that picked here because no one else wanted them,” Majkrzak said. “They wanted to come here over everywhere else.”

With first place in the GLIAC on the line, the Wildcats will be looking to take the momentum they have built for themselves with them on the road as they travel to Houghton to face off against Michigan Tech. This is the final game of the season for NMU before the GLIAC tournament. The last time the two met, the ‘Cats beat the Huskies by 25 points, the largest margin of victory between the two in the longtime rivalry.