HOUGHTON - Last Saturday, the Michigan Tech women's basketball team travelled to Division I Wisconsin-Green Bay for an exhibition and got stomped 75-36.
It was equal parts frustrating and instructive for coach Kim Cameron. With six practices before the season begins for real with Concordia-St. Paul Saturday night at the Student Development Complex, however, the blowout should certainly help focus the Huskies.
Which really, is why Tech was playing a D-I team in the first place.
"It was not what we hoped for as far as our production," Cameron said. "But it was also very good for us in that we found a lot of areas that we need to get better at before this Saturday. I would rather play somebody hard where at least we can learn something or find flaws that we may not have noticed than play somebody easy.
"We have six practices to work on it and find ways to get better."
The Huskies turned the ball over 31 times - including a surprising nine from senior point guard Sam Hoyt - and gave up 14 offensive rebounds on 31 missed shots.
Even worse from Cameron's point of view, the defensive rotations from Tech were slow and occasionally non-existent.
Certainly part of the struggles can be chalked up to a difference in talent levels between a D-I and D-II school - though it should be noted that Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference preseason favorite Ashland defeated Division I Dayton 79-77 in its exhibition contest - but the mental miscues worried Cameron more than any physical ones.
"Our defensive positioning was off," Cameron said. "We were a little lax on help side and that led to too many wide open layups. Now (Green Bay) is very fast and very athletic, but it is not an excuse to get beat and nobody is there for help. That was a big concern. but we have looked at it in our film sessions and we can see what we need corrected."
"The offensive rebounds were killer the turnovers were careless," Cameron added.
Ten different Huskies played double-digit minutes against Green Bay, a reflection of the playing time still up for grabs in the regular season.
Besides Hoyt, nothing is guaranteed at this point. In practice, Cameron has rotated almost every player between the "black" (starting) and "white" (scout) squads.
Tech was still sorting out rotational issues at the end of last season - with forward Taylor Stippel seeing plenty of game action late on and almost none in the beginning of the year - and Cameron would ideally like to avoid that scenario this time around.
"We are still working on that," Cameron said. "We want people who flat-out want to win and want to compete and are willing to do things the right way. Taking care of the basketball, defending their person and boxing out on every possession. We are looking for the toughest people who make things happen. they need to fight."
Michelle Gaedke was one such player in and out of the rotation last year, but took a big step to solidifying a back-up spot behind Hoyt against the Phoenix.
Amidst the 39-point loss, Gaedke stood out to Cameron with her energy.
"Michelle Gaedke came in and gave us a lift," Cameron said. "It's not like she was perfect, but when she was in there we were better. That is something very important to look at and something that we will consider coming up here."