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Off the top of my head

February 12, 2013 - Michael Bleach

HOUGHTON — It’s frigid outside. The roads are precarious. And as of this writing (8 a.m.), just a shade too early for a comforting beer.

But have no fear, read Tech hoops here to rid yourself of that winter drear.

(Deciding whether to delete that ridiculous sentence ... Nah)

Here are a gaggle of thoughts rattling around in my brain on the Husky men’s basketball team.


— The Northern Michigan loss — already grating in an ingrown toenail kind of way — may have significant ramifications for the Huskies in GLIAC play.

With No. 1 Wayne State on the docket for Thursday, the Huskies trail the Warriors by two games with five conference contests remaining for Tech and six for Wayne.

Even with a Huskies win — and that is no mean feat considering the Warriors defeated Tech 70-59 in Houghton — Tech would still need some help for a shot at the GLIAC title.

It is certainly not impossible, especially as Wayne has lost two in a row and three of their last five, but showing up in Marquette would have behooved the Huskies in more ways than just beating up on a rival.

— Tech got two key players back Saturday.

Austin Armga returned from an ankle sprain that kept him out three weeks to score eight points in 19 minutes, and Phil Romback returned from coach Kevin Luke’s dog house to chip in nine points in 22 minutes.

Romback lost his starting spot Thursday and Saturday to freshman Kyle Stankowski, but performed well enough in the first half against Grand Valley that Luke started the second half with Romback on the floor.

At the beginning of the season Romback seemed to have made a breakthrough, scoring double-digit points in seven out of nine games, eight of which were Husky wins. Since January, however, Romback has yet to hit double-digits once including three games where the sophomore was shutout. Over that stretch, Tech went 4-4.

Correlation-vs.-causality aside, it seems pretty clear that Tech need a consistent, motivated Romback to make the jump from good-to-great. When Romback is on form, his outside shooting, rebounding and length seamlessly complement Ali Haidar. Combined with a host of capable to downright-deadly guards (see; Ben Stelzer’s last two games), and the Huskies become a Tim Burton nightmare to matchup with offensively.

— It should be noted that, since Lake Superior State intentionally put senior guard Matt Esters on the free throw line when leading by two points — eventually resulting in a Huskies overtime win — Esters had converted on 15 straight free throw attempts before missing the front end of a one-and-one Saturday.

At the time of the Lake State game, Esters was shooting 59 percent from the stripe — in all of 20 attempts.

By the way, I still really want a Sample Size Trumpet.

— In case you missed it, Ali Haidar was named GLIAC North Division Player of the week.

That is what happens when you put up consecutive 20-point games with a 17-rebound effort thrown in for good measure.

To date, Haidar is averaging 24.6 points per game — on a redonkulous 61 percent shooting — to go with 9.9 rebounds and even two assists per game.

Of course, he also turns it over 3.1 times per game, probably just to give Luke something to complain about in practice.



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