Tech men look for continued scoring help for Monroe

Michigan Tech's Bryan Heath shoots against Concordia-St. Paul Saturday, at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — Through six games, it’s evident what the Michigan Tech Huskies can expect on a given night from junior forward Kyle Monroe. The Preseason All-GLIAC selection averages the second-most points per game in the league (24.3) while shooting 53 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3. He’s also just 0.3 percent away at the free-throw line from joining the 50-40-90 club. 

However, finding a consistent complementary offensive piece has led to an up-and-down start for Tech (3-3). The most likely candidate is junior Bryan Heath, who has played in more games (62) than anyone the last three seasons after starting right away as a true freshman. When he’s on, like in Tech’s 68-57 win over Concordia St. Paul on Saturday where he scored 28 points and was 7 of 10 from 3-point range, Tech is a legitimate threat to win the GLIAC. 

The Huskies will start GLIAC play tonight when they host Saginaw Valley State (2-4) at 7:30 p.m. before welcoming Northwood (2-3) Saturday at 3 p.m.

“I think it should give him confidence, and I think he should have the confidence to be able to step up and be the second option, and on a given night, be the first option,” Tech coach Kevin Luke said of Heath. “He’s got to start shouldering some of that responsibility, and I like the way he stepped up. I thought he looked confident, was aggressive and we have to build on that and keep him in that mold for the rest of the season.”

Monroe has had the heaviest workload of anyone in the GLIAC so far. His 16.3 shots per game are the most in the league, and he’s third in minutes per game (34.3). But Heath’s scoring outburst in the final game of the nonconference schedule showed that Tech doesn’t have to rely solely on Monroe, who ended up finishing with 19 points in the win after a 1 for 5 start.

“I think our team has plenty of capable scorers, who on any night, can go off,” Monroe said. “I think as the season goes on, we’re going to need more and more of that so teams have to play everyone honestly.”

One of those guys off the bench that has flashed a hot hand is senior Dillon Gordon. Against St. Paul, Gordon came off the bench and knocked down 2 of 3 attempts from 3-point range. His 3-point percentage of 66.7 percent (10 of 15) leads the GLIAC.

“He made two big 3s when we were down 10 and trying to get back in it,” Luke said of Gordon. “That’s the way he has to play. Dillon has to be aggressive for us, and when he is, we like to give him more minutes. Being a senior, I hope it continues to work out for him.”

The Huskies’ offense will be bolstered once freshman Dawson Bilski begins to find a rhythm. The three-time state champion from North Central broke his nose in the preseason and has been affected by the mask he’s forced to wear in games. So far, he’s just 1 of 13 from 3-point range, 2 of 16 overall and 3 of 6 from the free-throw line; a stark contrast to when he shot 59 percent in high school and was 49 percent from 3. 

According to Luke, it’s only a matter of time before Bilski’s offense comes around. 

“This is not an excuse, but the mask has been bothering him,” Luke said. “Once he gets a couple to go, the floodgates are going to open. He’s ready to unleash the 3-point weapon that he has.

“We’re going to stick with him because he’s going to be that good.”

LUCCA UPDATE

Sophomore point guard Tommy Lucca is set to miss his sixth consecutive game of the season tonight. Lucca will meet with an orthopedic surgeon today before deciding if he will need surgery, which would take place on Friday.

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