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Huskies men rested, ready for No. 24 Wildcats

Michigan Tech guard Drew Barrie looks for an open teammate during a game against Wisconsin-Parkside Saturday at the SDC Gym in Houghton. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — After a difficult five-game road stretch that saw the Michigan Tech Huskies men’s basketball team win the opener before dropping the next four, the Huskies returned home for Winter Carnival week, and used a little of the magic of the week to earn a pair of victories over Purdue Northwest and Wisconsin-Parkside.

Huskies coach Josh Buettner felt the modest two-game winning streak his team is on is a boost for the team’s overall confidence.

“Huge for confidence, for spirits, for getting that, whatever you want to call it, to get into that end season, getting into playoff mode,” he said. “Obviously with the spirits higher, it’s easier to get to practice, get things accomplished, and have that energy for late to mid February after the grind of a long season. It’s kind of easy to get rejuvenated with some success, and obviously the results are important. But, more importantly, I do think we competed pretty well and played pretty well.”

With better play as a team comes better individual play, and the Huskies got some key performances Saturday against Parkside from junior guard Adam Hobson and junior forward Pete Calcaterra.

Calcaterra, who started the season as one of the key starters and had some good games early, has struggled with consistency throughout much of the year. His 13 points off the bench Saturday were crucial to beating the Rangers.

“We’ve talked about Pete being an X-factor for the last two years,” Buettner said. “When Pete plays well, we play pretty well. Obviously, I think he’s sick of hearing that, and I’m sick of saying it. When we get him that same word, consistency, he could have a huge impact on the remainder of the season.”

Hobson’s season has mirrored Calcaterra’s in a lot of ways. He started the season strong with 16 points against Missouri S&T, but has not hit double figures again since Dec. 9 in a win over Wayne State.

After putting up 13 against the Rangers off the bench, Hobson admitted that he has felt like his season has been a bit of a roller coaster.

“It was just good for Adam’s confidence, too,” said Buentter. “I think he changed his approach a little bit, just came in and tried to play hard and compete every possession and not try to do too much. You know what? When you do the little things, the big things come. It was great to see him have success and kind of change the game on Saturday.”

Along with getting more offense from players coming off the bench, the Huskies focused on their team defense, and that showed in both wins. Buettner referred to the trust in each other that his team played with.

“One of our core fundamentals is kind of trust, and it looks like the trust is growing there that they know the next guy is going to have their back,” Buettner said. “That’s a big part of defense, especially at Michigan Tech. When you’re trying to play team defense, not just guard your guy. We have some rotations, and covered some things up against Parkside that we really haven’t done. (We) were flying around, and were getting through some screens. We were doing a pretty good job of guarding the basketball. It was fun to watch.”

This weekend, the Huskies will need that strong defense as they take on the No. 24 Northern Michigan Wildcats. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies earlier this season, 98-66, thanks, in part, to 35 points from sophomore guard Max Weisbrod.

SCOUTING THE WILDCATS

The Wildcats come into Saturday’s game 19-6 overall and 12-1 in the GLIAC, which is good enough for first place in the standings. Like the Huskies, they also swept Parkside and Purdue Northwest last weekend.

Weisbrod has been outstanding this season, and is a candidate for GLIAC Player of the Year. He is averaging 16.9 points per game, along with 3.6 rebounds. Sophomore forward Dylan Kuehl has also been very good, averaging 16.5 points per game and 6.1 rebounds.

The Wildcats have three more players averaging in double digits as junior junior guard Carson Smith averages 12.2 points per game, junior guard Brian Parzych averages 10.3 points per game, and junior forward Sam Schultz averages 10.0.

GAME TIME

The Huskies and Wildcats will meet Saturday at 3 p.m. at the SDC Gym in Houghton.

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