HOUGHTON - When the schedule was released last summer, Michigan Tech women's basketball coaches Kim Cameron and Maria Kasza came up with a nickname for the stretch of five games in 10 days the Huskies are about to embark on.
Starting with Northwood today, Tech will host Lake Superior State Saturday and Northern Michigan Monday, followed by a road trip to Ferris and Grand Valley State after that.
Michigan Tech’s Mackenzie Perttu drives to the basket in a game against Ferris State earlier this month. The Huskies return home to face Northwood at the SDC?Gym tonight. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"Every game is going to be incredibly intense and crazy," Cameron said. "And coming off two losses, just to have that number of games in that limited amount of time, we are going to need everybody on our team. This is such a critical stretch."
Five games in 10 days would be crucial no matter the circumstances.
But after a pair of road losses - including a defeat at GLIAC leader Wayne State - last weekend, the Huskies have little room for error as they now trail the Warriors by a game in the standings.
"I look at it as a great thing," senior Paige Albi said of the bunched schedule.
"I want to play a game every day. And I think our team is really built for this. We've been in so many close games this season that every girl knows how to play with that pressure."
For the Huskies to get back on the left side of the win-loss column, it starts with correcting a basic issue.
Tech gave up 26 free throws in the loss to Saginaw - attempting just 10 themselves - and many came from the new hand-check rule interpretation, with Saginaw guards just putting their head down and earning freebies off sheer aggression.
Northwood is built from the same mold.
The Timberwolves lead the league in free throw makes and attempts (25.6 per game on 74.4 percent shooting), utilizing a ball-screen offense designed to create rim-runs for a trio of hard-charging ball-handlers.
Leading scorer Lauren Robak (17.7 points per game) shoots seven free throws a game while guard Gabrielle Rivette earns 6.4 attempts a contest.
"That's the big thing we are working on this week is keeping our hands off, because Northwood gets to the line the most out of all the teams in the league," Albi said. "That's what practice has been about, defending the drive and keeping your hands off."
On the other end, Cameron wants to see a bit more aggression from her guards as well.
Tech shot 19 three-pointers in each loss over the weekend - making only three each game - to end with more three-point attempts than free throw attempts.
"It's hard, because I don't think they were bad shots," Cameron said. "At the same time, we have to make sure that we are going to the basket as much as everyone else."