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February 7, 2012 - Michael Bleach
Talking to Michigan Tech men’s basketball coach Kevin Luke after the Huskies 60-54 loss to Wayne State Saturday, it was apparent that Luke was noticeably calmer than he had been after every other defeat this season.
This is somewhat significant as Luke can swing between anger-desperation-depression-and “Why Me Lord Self Reflection?” all within a five minute interview after a typical loss.
You know it has reached a boiling point when he asks me what went wrong with his team — a question I have had the self-survival skills to dodge so far.*
*The jury is still out on what type of fool I will turn out to be, but my parents at least installed a mental warning light that flashes when a rhetorical query should be left at just that.
The reasons for this new found serenity are, I believe, three-fold.
1. The logic behind the loss was different. As covered in my game recap, the Huskies were not dramatically bad in anyone area, they were just average to below-average in a bunch of them.
But whatever the faults this weekend, the defeat could not be chalked up to a lack of effort.
Tech has bizarrely been noticeably lacking energy-wise in the second game of a weekend series this year, with seven of the team’s 10 losses coming on Saturday (or Sunday) with just one day of rest in between games. In fact, Tech has faced eight such situations this year and won only once.
While the Wayne State loss technically qualifies in that department, Luke seemed comforted with the fact that his team hung in against a good team for 40 minutes despite not bringing their best fastball. They repeatedly made runs in the second half and came within a last-second 12 foot floater of having a one possession chance to tie the game.
This newfound serenity will not last for long if the losses pile up, but Luke is clearly more comfortable simply getting beat rather than not coming prepared to play.
2. And it also may be a reflection of the bigger picture.
If Luke were given Veritaserum*, he probably would acknowledge that earning a split this weekend with Findaly (tied for No. 2 in the GLIAC and a team Tech hadn’t beat since 2004) and Wayne State (also tied for No. 2) was about as good as he could realistically hope for.
*That is a Harry Potter truth potion for all you haters of fine literature. Also, if Harry Potter references are going to be a dealbreaker for you and your relationship with this blog, we might have to have a talk...
A sweep would have been sensational, but you can definitely put a 1-1 weekend against typical GLIAC juggernauts down as a win.
3. Finally, Luke’s zen-like attitude may have simply come from the knowledge that that North Division leader Ferris State — which is up a game-and-a-half on Tech in the standings with five games left to play — still has to travel to Wayne State, Findlay and then host GLIAC-leader Hillsdale in their final six games.
Tech on the other hand, has only two games left against team’s with winning conference records (Ashland and Northwood) and will be at home for three of the five.
So while their destiny is not technically in their own hands yet — it probably will be.
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