HOUGHTON - Mark your calendars.
The official 2013-14 Michigan Tech men's and women's basketball schedules were released this week, confirming a quartet of non-conference games for both squads that will see the season tip off Nov. 15 on the road in St. Paul for the women and Nov. 16 at home for the men.
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference portion of the schedule merely reversed from last season - the home and road dates flipped from the 2012-13 slate - as conference play begins the first week of December.
With the additions of Malone and Walsh to the GLIAC last year, the Huskies have cut down from a typical six non-conference games to four. According to men's coach Kevin Luke, the change has been more than welcome.
"The league went to 22 games, and that is good for us, because that guaranteed us home games," Luke said. "The more league games we can play the better off we are. Because scheduling (non-conference) to Michigan Tech is sometimes a nightmare."
The Husky men will have Minnesota-Duluth, Southwest Minnesota St. and Wisconsin-Parkside all lacing up at the SDC after Tech traveled to those schools last year.
The women will host Duluth and Parkside.
According to Luke, that home-and-home contract has become more and more difficult for Tech to secure, however, as the team's winning percentage has improved each season.
"Teams will not come up here if they know we are decent because they know it is a tough place to play," Luke said. "Ninety-nine percent of the time people say they are not going to travel that far to go to a game if they think they are going to lose. Those factors are nightmarish to getting a game. I still have enough contacts that some are interested, but GLVC (and NCAA Midwest regional) teams just won't come up here now."
The non-conference games take on more importance than at the Division I level as they are factored heavily into the NCAA Tournament Regional Rankings.
The Tech men went 3-1 against non-conference opponents last year to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
"That does make it tough, because there is no experimenting with lineups that you can do in the beginning of the season," Luke said. "You have to know what you are and what you got right away. ... We will look different this season (without Ali Haidar), that's for sure, but I think we will be OK."
Making The Cut
Luke has always stressed that when recruiting, he needs to factor academics as much as ability into his decisions for a kid to succeed at Michigan Tech.
Thursday, that assertion was backed up as Tech was given the academic Team Excellence Award by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, bestowed on teams that boast a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or higher.
Alex Culy, Austin Armga, Kyle Stankowski, Troy Hecht and Ben Stelzer were also named to the NABC Honors Court for a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher. Tech was one of two teams in the nation to have five members make Honors Court.
"Those are awesome," Luke said. "That is really quite an honor."