HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech men's basketball alumni Gold Team beat the Black Team 109-104 Saturday at the Student Development Complex gym, but for the 45 alumni participants, the court was simply center stage for a weekend full of reliving old memories, renewing old friendships and rekindling the competitive fires that made them successful Huskies in their respective eras.
"I wish I had some of those players again. It makes a guy like me look like a good coach," Tech men's head coach Kevin Luke, who has been at the helm of the program for the past 18 seasons, said with a smile.
"It turns out the teams were pretty evenly matched and it was a competitive game," he added. "It's awesome because it's just like it was yesterday and these guys are all in the locker room talking about stories, and everything we have in common - friendship, Michigan Tech and basketball."
David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette
Josh Buettner, right, fouls Matt Cameron during a Michigan Tech men’s basketball alumni game Saturday at the SDC Gym. More than 40 former Husky basketball players participated in the event.
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
men and women alumni gather at the J.R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Technological University Saturday evening for the “Women of Tech” social mixer, as part of Tech's Alumni Weekend. Guests were welcome to enjoy a variety of hors d'oeuvres and drinks. A presentation of alumnae played on TV screens nearby.
Josh Buettner (Class of 2005) and Matt Cameron (2003) certainly have plenty in common - each twice named All-Americans and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference players of the year, and played on GLIAC championship-winning teams among the best in Tech history - but they squared off against each other Saturday.
"It always seems to be Buettner and I matched up," said Cameron, whose sister Kim currently coaches the Tech women's basketball team. "You put a bunch of competitive guys in a gym together and even as we're old and kind of out of shape, we still get that fire going."
Cameron did his part to help keep the game close for the Black team, tallying 21 points, including a pair of dunks and a lay-up that made it a 95-93 game with 7:18 left.
"It's fun, but not when you're guarding him," joked Buettner, who is now an assistant to Luke and added 12 points. "You don't have many of these once you get out of school and everyone here is competitive. Even if we're not playing like we were in college, we're competing like we were."
The teams played two 25-minute halves, with players from the 1950s-80s largely playing the first five minutes of each half before giving way to the younger players for most of the contest. Players from seven different decades took part in the alumni game.
"The older you get, the more enjoyable it is to get all the old guys back up. Keeping (the men's basketball alumni reunion) every five years makes it special," said Mike Kissman (1998), who now works at Shift Digital along with four teammates (Chad Bultynck, Brian Dukes, J.T. Luginski and Caleb Lamz) from his late '90s Huskies team.
The company he helped start is now one of the fastest growing companies in Detroit, and it still actively recruits Michigan Tech graduates. The five players still play basketball together in a men's league, and they enjoyed the alumni game Saturday.
"It starts out all fun and games, handshakes and smiles, and then as the clock goes down and the score gets closer, it gets a little more competitive," said Kissman, who chipped in 12 points to the Gold Team's win.
Radayl Richardson (2005) led all scorers with 22 points for Gold, with Cameron's 21 leading Black's effort.
As the intensity picked up, so did the trash talk, fouls and gamesmanship, but as occasional airballs, self-inflicted wipeouts and fashion faux pas (Christian Wilson's 1988-era short shorts) reminded everyone, the game was all in fun and it just added one more memory to a mile-long list of recollections.
"The last two nights and tonight we're going to sit around three to four hours every night just talking about stories on the road, stories about Coach Luke, all the shenanigans that happened in college, the big games, the big shots, the crazy things that happened. All that stuff comes back," Buettner said. "It's great to reminisce with all these guys."
The players also engaged in several socials and a golf outing as part of Tech's Alumni Reunion, which also welcomed back the classes of 1962, 1972, 1982, 1987, 1992 and 2002, as well as alumni of biological sciences and the mechanical engineering department.