Michigan Tech faces tough conference opponents this week

David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Tech’s Isaac Appleby runs the ball up the floor while keeping it out of the reach of a Lake Superior State defender during a game Saturday at the Wood Gym.

HOUGHTON — Is there a Michigan Tech way to play basketball?

There is and it shined brightly a week ago when the Huskies defeated defending national champion Ferris State, 64-61, in a game that coach Kevin Luke would love to bottle and open on game day from this point forward.

“The Ferris State game was a blueprint of how we should play on the court game in and game out,” he said. “We made plays when we had to make plays and that was huge for us. We didn’t falter and we gave it our all.

“It was a boost to beat a good Ferris team. We took care of ourselves and control of the ball. We are not a racehorse team like some of these other teams. When we get into that mode that’s when we get into trouble.”

However, just two days later, they did not follow the blueprint as they went down to defeat, 75-67, against the Lake Superior State Lakers. A poor performance on both ends of the floor in the first half put them deep in a hole. The Huskies did mount a second-half charge, but it was not enough.

“I didn’t like Saturday’s start,” said Luke. “Our work effort didn’t carry over from the Ferris State win.”

Despite the loss, Luke said he is proud of his players because they did not give up in that game. The Huskies were down by more than 15 at halftime, but did not hang their heads.

“The effort is always there,” said Luke of his team. “These guys will give you everything they got.”

He added that he is impressed with the continual growth on the court of Dawson Bilski and Owen White. Bilski, a sophomore, is averaging 14.2 points per game while White, in his first year, is averaging 8.7 points over the past 15 games. As well, both are leaders in rebounds at both ends of the court. They will certainly need to be at the top of their game this weekend as the face two tough conference opponents.

Thursday, the Huskies will face the Grand Valley State Lakers (11-5 overall, 5-3 GLIAC). The Lakers lead the league in field goal percentage (49.9).

Luke stated that it will take all their defensive strength to shut down this shooting powerhouse. Grand Valley is coming off their best defensive performance of the season, holding Northwood to just 60 points, including only 25 in the second half, to win their final home game of January.

The Lakers are currently tied for third place in South Division.

The Lakers are paced by Hunter Hale, whose 17.3 points per game are fifth-best in the conference. Hale also sports the fourth-best three-point percentage in the conference at 48.5 percent.

Jake Van Tubbergen is also having a very solid season as he is fourth-best in field goal percentage (58.1).

“It will be a good challenge for us,” said Luke. “They like to run, defend and shoot. So, we will have to step up and be strong in all those categories.”

On Saturday, the Davenport Panthers come to town. They are 13-2 overall and 6-2 in the GLIAC, good for second in the South.

The Panthers’ Avery Hudson is one of the top shooters in the conference from outside as he is averaging 49.5 percent per game, which is good for third in the GLIAC. His 16.3 points per game average has him second on the Panthers and eighth in the conference. Dyllon Hudson-Emery is just slightly better at 16.7 points per game.

“I have said it before; there are no ‘gimmes’ in the GLIAC. Davenport has what it takes to be there at the top,” said Luke. “They are playing free, and fluid and with confidence. This will be a fun weekend for us.”