Tech men prepare for 2 different playing styles
HOUGHTON — It was the weekend that started the Michigan Tech men’s resurgence.
A 63-58 win over the Wayne State Warriors on Jan. 12 was followed with a 93-72 victory over the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals on Jan. 14. Those two wins sparked a five-game winning streak, vaulting Tech into second in the GLIAC North.
Now, Tech is 7-2 since, and welcomes both Wayne State and Saginaw Valley to the SDC this weekend, starting with the Warriors at 7:30 p.m. tonight and SVSU Saturday at 2 p.m.
“We have to be able to execute our systems to the type of game we’re in,” Tech head coach Kevin Luke said. “These are two different, contrasting styles coming in, and we have to be smart enough to make the proper adjustments during the game.”
Tonight has the makings of a grind-it-out affair, similar to the first matchup between the two teams. Luke calls Wayne State the toughest team, physically and mentally, in the league. The Warriors score the second-least amount of points (71.2) but allow the second-least (67.1).
“Wayne’s going to make you execute because they’re that good defensively,” Luke said. “Watching our film down there, we did some good things to get us over the hump and keep us ahead.
“I think for tournaments, you have to be able to grind it out. It’s proven there’s less possessions in tournament games because people try to grind it out a little more.”
SVSU is the exact opposite, as in the Cardinals will look to run whenever in hopes of utilizing their athletic advantages over Tech. Garrett Hall leads the Cardinals with 17.8 points per game, sixth-most in the GLIAC.
“They’re going to make it a fast tempo game and we’re going to have to adjust to that by getting the tempo to our liking,” Luke said. “We can be a little more uptempo at home because we’re comfortable, but we have to be smart and execute our systems.
“Right now, I feel like we can play in either type of game. There’s games when we win with 63 (points), and there’s games when we win with 96. I feel comfortable, and our guys should feel comfortable that we can play in either one of those type of games.”
After being ranked No. 1 in the country in December, SVSU went on a six-game losing streak. They were picked as favorites to win the GLIAC North, but now find themselves fighting to make the GLIAC tournament. SVSU is in a tie for ninth in the league, one game back of the Ohio Dominican Panthers.
The Cardinals have showed signs of life after the 0-6 stretch, going 3-2 in their last five, including a 64-42 win over the Grand Valley State Lakers on Saturday.
“They are dangerous. Period. They’re not out of it, yet,” Luke said. “They have a lot of experience, they have seniors, good shooters, they’re fast, athletic and can defend.”
Tech (13-10, 11-4) is currently second in the North behind the Ferris State Bulldogs (20-3, 14-2), and in a tie for second overall in the league with the Findlay Oilers (17-5, 11-4). Right now, the goal is to land a home GLIAC Tournament game.
“That’s critical. That’s something that can vault you into having a good remainder of the tournament, being able to play at home where you’re comfortable,” Luke said. “That can help get you to the Final Four and get you to a more rested state.
“It’s better being at home than on the road, sleeping in your own bed and your surroundings are comfortable.”
CHARTIER’S SHARP SHOOTING
Tech senior Jordan Chartier is currently second in the GLIAC in 3-point shooting, converting on 46 percent of his 3s. He’s made an impressive 75 of 163 attempts from beyond the arc. Chartier is even better at the Wood Gym, where’s made 41 of 77 attempts (49 percent).
“He’s earned it because he’s spent a lot of time working,” Luke said. “We’re going to keep pumping him the ball and screening for him.
“He’s a very unselfish player so he knows if it’s a good shot or not. I’d prefer that he shot 10 3s a game… He’s doing a nice job of mixing in driving with it, also. He’s even getting some post touches.”