Press Box

Martin Gross
Martin Gross

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Year one is in the books for Northern Michigan University head men’s basketball coach Doug Lewis. The team finished 9-17 overall and 4-15 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Wildcats finished the season strong, winning two of its last three games.

“It felt good to bounce back the way we did at the end of the season after laying an egg against Lake Erie,” NMU head coach Doug Lewis said. “I wasn’t going to let these guys give up on the season yet.”

NMU started the season strong going 5-2 in its nonconference schedule. The ‘Cats opened up in south Florida, splitting games at the Sailfish Classic in West Palm Beach. Palm Beach Atlantic won the first game on Nov. 12 (77-60) before NMU bounced back against Lynn (69-61) the next day. Spring Arbor came to the Berry Events Center for the first home game of the season on Nov. 20 as NMU won 84-82. NMU advanced to the championship of the Gary Miller Classic, the next weekend, after defeating Daemen (82-80) but lost to tournament host Gannon (79-68).

NMU started a five-game December home stand as Michigan Tech came to town—and defeated the ‘Cats (109-84)—to open up the GLIAC portion of the schedule. NMU rounded off nonconference action with wins over Division III opponents Northland (86-47) and Finlandia (102-74) and completed the home stand with losses to Grand Valley and Ferris State.

After Christmas the Wildcats picked up their first GLIAC win at Ohio Dominican (82-72) in the first matchup between the two schools. January was a rough month as the ‘Cats lost to Tiffin, Michigan Tech, Saginaw Valley, Lake Superior, Grand Valley, Ferris and Hillsdale. NMU defeated Northwood (85-82) on Jan. 29 for its first home GLIAC win after trailing at the half.

Three road losses to Wayne State, Findlay and Lake Superior State opened up the February schedule before splitting its final home series with a loss to Lake Erie and a win over Ashland (72-68). NMU picked up its second win of the season over Northwood (73-71) and won its first back-to-back conference game. Saginaw Valley defeated NMU in its final game of the season on Feb. 26.

Eight of the losses this season were by 10 points or fewer. The 4-15 GLIAC record was good for seventh in the GLIAC North Division and 12th overall.

“My main focus was laying the foundation with what guys should expect as far as discipline and my expectations for hard work and being a good teammate. The guys need to know that it’s going to be the Doug Lewis way or the highway,” Lewis said.

Junior center Jared Benson led the team with 366 points, 171 rebounds and 41 blocks while shooting 58.7 percent from the field. He was selected to the GLIAC North Division All-Conference Second Team. “Jared exceeded my expectations this year but he worked hard all season. He was second team all-conference and improved his totals from last year. I’ll expect even more from him next year.”

DeAndre Taylor scored 339 points in his first season at NMU. He shot 49 percent from the field and led the team with 44 steals.“I knew what we would get with DeAndre. He’s the kind of athlete we’re going to have in the program with his speed and quickness to extend our defensive. I had a good idea of what he could give us at the beginning of the year.”

Freshman Matthew Craggs scored 256 points and led the team with 39 3-pointer made. He started the final 14 games. “I didn’t know how good he was going to be but he exceeded my expectations also. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Matt Everson led the team with 80 assists. Martin Gross and Chris Paquin each made 36 3-pointers. Mylan Murphy was second with 125 rebounds and 31 blocks.

“If you believe in the team, work hard and you lay everything on the line night and night out then we can be successful in this league,” Lewis added.

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Calvin Larson
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