No. 16 Tech prepares for battle on the boards with Ferris State

Michigan Tech’s Hannah Hobson defends Tiffin’s Kiley May Saturday at the Wood Gym. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — From the standpoint of being one of the smaller teams in the GLIAC, the battle on the boards has always been an uphill battle for the No. 16 Michigan Tech Huskies.

But now Tech (12-2, 6-1) will have its toughest challenge in the rebounding department when the Huskies travel to face the Ferris State Bulldogs on Thursday before heading to the Lake Superior State Lakers on Saturday.

Ferris State (8-7, 2-5) leads the GLIAC in rebounds per game (43.3), while Tech is the ninth-best rebounding team in the league (36.2).

“We have talked about it, practiced it and are doing as many drills as possible during our practice time, just because we know that’s a weakness of ours,” Tech coach Kim Cameron said. “It comes down to being in great position and sometimes being a little bit tougher than the other team and knowing that you’re going to have people flying on our backs and remembering to stay in great position.

“We’re smaller than a lot of teams, but we can’t use that as an excuse.”

Tech senior guard Lindsay Winter, who stands at just 5-foot-6, is a prime example of being an efficient rebounder despite being on the smaller side. She leads Tech with 7.2 rebounds per game, which is the seventh-best average in the GLIAC.

Ferris State senior Rachel McInerney leads the GLIAC with 9.9 rebounds per contest and is fourth in scoring (15.8). McInerney was named to the All-GLIAC North Preseason team.

“She is really good and has continued to improve every year,” Cameron said of McInerney. “She runs as the trapper in their press, which I think gets her going, offensively. They look to her on everything: late-game situations, first plays out of half, they’re looking to her for easy post-ups off of back screens.

“It’ll be important for us to force difficult passes with us fronting inside and force them to make lob passes and hopefully deflect and make sure we have help. You have to keep her from touching the ball and controlling the offense.”

Tech wraps up the weekend against struggling LSSU (0-11, 0-7).The Lakers surrender a league-high 81 points per game and score the third-least points (58.7).

Brandon Lokken took over the program as its interim head coach on June 19.

“They’ve always had really good spacing,” Cameron said of the Lakers. “A lot of times, even for a lot of teams that we’ll play, will look at Lake State and see what they did as far as their spacing. They’re taught really well and run a lot of plays.

“It’ll be a lot like how we prepared for Tiffin in the sense that you have to trust your position defense to be able to get you through because with a day of preparation, it doesn’t give you enough time to learn every play call and be prepared for everything that they’re going to do.”

The production of Tech’s bench has given an already deep squad even more depth. Both junior Michelle LaFave (17 points against Ashland) and sophomore Hannah Hobson (10 points versus Tiffin) scored career highs. LaFave also followed the Ashland performance with 11 points in the win over Tiffin. Both players were efficient with their opportunities, with LaFave converting 13 of 19 shots over the weekend, while Hobson was 4 of 5 against Tiffin.

“Most importantly, I think Michelle’s attitude coming into the game — as far as being poised and confident — every time she went in, something good happened,” Cameron said. “She sees the floor really well, knows the game really well … Her being able to take advantage offensively was a huge lift for us.

“Hannah has continued to improve throughout the season and has become an incredible defender because she can guard the perimeter and the post. But then also she’s hitting her open shots and shooting more confidently.”