Technical merit: Huskies full value for win over peeved Northwood
HOUGHTON – Let’s be clear: The Michigan Tech men’s basketball team deserved to win Thursday night over Northwood no matter what. They outshot the GLIAC North-leading Timberwolves, played stellar man-to-man defense and took NU leading scorer Wes Wilcox completely out of the game.
But all any of the 1,037 in attendance Thursday night will likely remember are the four technical fouls Northwood received, giving Tech eight extra free throws (all made) and sending the T’Wolves completely off-kilter in a 82-57 Husky victory.
A 40 second stretch in the second half saw Northwood teed up three times, gifting Austin Armga six freebies to stretch a 50-37 lead to 56-39.
Northwood coach Jeff Rekeweg received the first ”T’ of the game midway through the first half after one too many comments following a Wilcox off-ball offensive foul.
Assistant coach Barry Huckeby followed that with a technical for a verbal transgression of his own, and one possession later, Wilcox and Rekeweg each drew official Peter Juzenas’ ire following a Wilcox turnover, resulting in Rekeweg’s ejection.
Juzenas was responsible for all four technicals.
According to Northwood Sports Information Director Travis McCurdy, it was Rekeweg’s first technical foul in over three years.
The win moves Tech into a tie for second place in the GLIAC North Division with a chance to play their way into first Saturday against Lake Superior State.
“I know what that walk feels like,” Tech coach Kevin Luke said of his one career ejection. “That’s not a fun walk.”
“After all that broke loose, I just wanted to nestle down in my chair and not comment.”
“I’ve never been a part of something like that,” Tech junior guard Troy Hecht said. “That was something.”
Meanwhile, the Huskies were playing inspired basketball after a disappointing loss at Saginaw Valley last Saturday.
Armga and Ben Stelzer finished with 26 and 20 points, respectively, combining to shoot 12-for-24 from the field with seven threes between the pair.
Hecht chipped in with what he called the “best game of his Husky career,” finishing with a career-high 16 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting and was responsible for the physical, irritating defense that held Wilcox to 13 points and six turnovers.
“He sure was good both offensively and defensively,” Luke said. “He is just a good, team, hardworking kid that any coach in America would take for those reasons. And he just caught it and shot in rhythm today.”
Hecht is now shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from three on 1.3 attempts per game.
Hecht’s first two seasons saw his shoot numbers at 33 percent overall with a 28 percent mark beyond the arc.
It has been a crucial improvement for a player noted for his defense, as it allows the Huskies to keep their spacing that makes Armga and Stelzer so dangerous.
“Lots of time in the gym,” Hecht said. “Just getting shots up, trying to stay consistent.”
Along with the offensive outburst, Hecht spent 22 minutes doing what he does best, hounding Wilcox all over the floor.
Wilcox finished with 28 points the last time the Huskies saw Northwood, but couldn’t find any room to operate (or even touch the ball), with Hecht shadowing him all over the floor.
“That’s what I like to go out and do,” Hecht said. “I am a physical player defensively and that is where I thrive.”
Romback sees first action of the season
Perhaps lost in the ruckus of Techgate, junior forward Phil Romback made his first appearance of the season late in the first half.
Romback played 10 minutes total Thursday, filling in as the backup center for Luke Heller.
Romback played as a true freshman and still had a redshirt year to burn. Coming back from a head injury, he chose to try and contribute this season rather than hold off for another year of eligibility.
Luke said it was completely the junior’s choice, one way or another.
“When he came back we talked about it and he said he really wants to try and help this team,” Luke said. “I think he can.”