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Tech men recharge for Bemidji's visit

November 20, 2012
By Michael Bleach - DMG Sports Writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech men's basketball team spent Sunday's practice after a 70-58 loss at Minnesota Duluth working on three areas and three areas only.

Rebounding, setting screens and defense.

In short, all duties that are largely influenced by toughness and energy.

"Yes, I think we were missing (energy) Saturday," Tech head coach Kevin Luke said. "We are trying to take it to the next level, and you have to be ready no matter if you are on the road, a second game, whatever. Good teams tough it out in those circumstances."

The defensive issues Luke feared at the beginning of the season came to fruition as Duluth was able to pound the ball inside time and time again, finishing with 19 assists on 25 made baskets.

Deep post position, poor denial of the entry feed and basic rotations were all problems for the Huskies, and all points of emphasis for Tech in practice preparing for Bemidji State today at the Student Development Complex.

"We were just a step slow," Luke said. "We were sluggish. They made a bunch of back cuts for lay-ups and we just didn't defend the post very well.

"It has to change if we are going to be successful."

Against Duluth, senior forward Ali Haidar fulfilled his role with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, but the rest of the starters failed to uphold their end of the bargain, with the team as a whole misfiring on 14 of 18 attempts from beyond the arc and the starting guard trio of Alex Culy, Ben Stelzer and Austin Armga connecting on just 2-of-12 threes and 5-of-20 overall.

According to Luke, this came partly as a result of poor motion and screening in the offense and then simply an off-shooting night.

Including the exhibition game against Finlandia, Culy, who shot 44 percent from three last season, is now 2-for-17 from behind the arc to start the year. For Tech's offense to be successful, he - along with Stelzer - must knock down the open perimeter looks that come their way when the defense collapses on Haidar.

"The first three weeks of practice he couldn't miss," Luke said of Culy. "And now, he can't make anything. We need him to keep being assertive though. Those will go down for him eventually - hopefully sooner than later."

The Huskies look to bounce back against a Beavers team that defeated them in Bemidji last season 63-58.

There are very few similarities between the 2011 Beavers and 2012 Beavers, however, as they have a new coach in Mike Boschee - who prefers an up-tempo offense and pressure defense to last year's half-court oriented team - and Bemidji is still adjusting for the graduation of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Player of the Year James Ellisor.

They have started the season 1-1, much like the Huskies, with a big win to open the schedule before a humbling loss in the second game.

"To be honest, we don't know a heck of a lot (about Bemidji)," Luke said. "There are some changes Last year though, (Ellisor) killed us. We couldn't stop him so I'm glad he is gone."



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