HOUGHTON - For three of the first six games this season, Michigan Tech men's basketball guard Matt Esters did not remove his warm-ups. In the month of December, he played 19 minutes total over six games. Through the first 12 conference games, Esters saw the floor for 47 minutes (3.9 per game) with a significant chunk of that time coming at the end of blowout wins.
Yet every day after leading the scout team in practice, Esters could be seen putting up extra shots in the gym when other teammates were on their way home.
For a driven, redshirt freshman this would be pretty par for the course. For a senior, however, finding that motivation amidst (very) limited playing time can be a tad more difficult.
Michigan Tech’s Matt Esters releases a shot during the second half of the Jan. 19 game against Saginaw Valley. He made major contributions to road wins at Northwood and Lake Superior State last week. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"It is definitely tough to be honest with you," Esters said. "But you have to be ready for when your opportunity comes, and if you can perform then, that is just a great feeling. That is my motivation to me, just to get out there and perform well and keep proving that I am a good player."
He proved it this weekend. Big time.
Against Northwood Thursday, Esters played 17 minutes (all in the second half) chipping in 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including back-to-back three-pointers when Tech was trailing by six. The Huskies eventually won 79-65 - conveniently a margin that matches Esters' point total exactly.
At Lake Superior State Saturday, with Esters involved from the outset, Lakers coach Steve Hettinga decided to intentionally foul the fifth-year guard with nine seconds remaining in the game and LSSU up by two points. Esters sank both freebies to give him 12 points for the contest (4-of-7 shooting) and Tech pulled away to win 83-79 in overtime.