Men’s basketball set to honor seniors

Drew Kochanny

The Northern Michigan men’s basketball team was unable to walk away victorious over the weekend, losing to Hillsdale 59-81 Thursday, Feb. 18, then Saturday, Feb. 20 to Findlay 56-75.
Against Hillsdale (12-12 overall, 12-8 GLIAC) NMU wasn’t able to avenge an earlier season home loss to the Chargers, shooting just 36.1 percent in the game.
NMU senior guard Chris Warner brought in eight points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Sophomore guard Raymont McElroy led NMU (10-14 overall, 7-13 GLIAC) in scoring on the night bringing in 21 points.
A 56-39 lead by Findlay (19-6 overall, 15-5 GLIAC) in the second half of Saturday’s game again would be too much to come back from for the Wildcats. McElroy, along with freshman forward Mylan Murphy, led NMU in scoring with 15 points each on the night, while NMU shot just 1-11 from the 3-point line.
“I thought we were in those games early and then they just started making runs,” Warner said. “Transition [defense] killed us. They got on fast breaks and got easy baskets and made us work that much harder.”
NMU head coach Dean Ellis was unavailable for comment after falling ill before the weekend’s game. He may be unable to coach this weekends matchups as well, and NMU assistant head coaches Dan Waterman and Bill Hill will assume Ellis’s duties in his absence.
Waterman is in his fourth season as an assistant coach for NMU. Stepping in for Ellis was an unexpected incident, but it is something he feels comfortable doing.
“It’s been an adjustment and change, but we had no other choice,” Waterman said. “It’s a different challenge, but it’s the same group of kids and the same messages were trying to get across.”
NMU will close out the 2009-2010 regular season in a senior day weekend meeting against Saginaw Valley State (15-10 overall, 12-8 GLIAC) Thursday Feb. 25 and Lake Superior State (13-12 overall, 11-9 GLIAC) Saturday Feb. 27.
Both matchups earlier in the season ended in close losses for NMU, losing at Lake State 83-87 and at Saginaw 56-59. NMU out-shot Lake State in the first matchup, shooting 57 percent, but couldn’t finish the game, something players know is a must this weekend in both games.
“It’s going to take all 40 minutes,” NMU senior guard Marc Renelique said. “Against Lake State we were actually losing early in the game, but against Saginaw we were winning the whole game and then lost it in the last minute or so.”
For both Warner and Renelique, Thursday and Saturday will be a tough experience playing  their last game as Wildcats.
“It’s going to be an emotional game seeing as how it is my last game here,” Warner said. “I really enjoyed my time here. I’ll just take it all in; my family will be here so it will be a special part for me.”
Other seniors include guard Austin Rowe, and forwards Kyle Hawley, Mark D’Agostino and Sebastien Salois.
Seniors may have more games in their near future as NMU still sits with hope of a conference playoff berth with two wins this weekend.
“We got an outside chance still, so were trying to do our part to control it, which is win our two games,” Renelique said. “After that, it basically depends on what everyone else does in the league.”
Game time for Thursday against Hillsdale is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Berry Events Center. Saturday’s senior day game against Saginaw Valley tips off at 1 p.m.