HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – Practice is underway as the Michigan Tech men's basketball team gets set to embark on the 2018-19 season. The Huskies closed 2017-18 with an overall record of 15-14 and advanced to the their 21st appearance in the GLIAC Tournament under Head Coach Kevin Luke. The Huskies went 11-9 in the GLIAC and reached the semifinals for the 17th time by defeating Wayne State 88-74 on the road in the quarterfinals.
Michigan Tech was picked to finish third in the GLIAC North Division for the second year in a row, hauling in 43 points in the Preseason Coaches' Poll announced Wednesday by the conference office. Defending NCAA Division II National Champion and 2018 GLIAC Champion Ferris State earned the top spot in the poll with 58 points and nine first place votes. Northern Michigan checked in second with 47 points and three first place votes followed by the Huskies at No. 3. Lake Superior State was fourth with 34 points, Parkside fifth with 23 points, and Purdue Northwest rounds out the division sixth with 11 points.
Over in the South Division, Ashland owns the No. 1 position on the strength of 60 points and 10 first place votes in the poll. Grand Valley State is second with 51 points and two first place votes while Davenport rounds out the top three with 36 points. Saginaw Valley State and Wayne State find themselves in a tie for fourth with each program receiving 27 points. Northwood is sixth in the South Division rankings with 16 points.
The Huskies were fourth in the North Division standings a year ago and earned the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament with a sixth place finish in the overall rankings. The Huskies will once again have a great deal of experience to build this year's club on with a number players returning who logged significant minutes.
Bryan Heath, a native of Taylor Ridge, Illinois, had an outstanding 2017-18 season for the Huskies. Heath averaged 13.3 points per game while hauling down 3.0 rebounds per night. Earlier in the year, Heath surpassed 1,000 career points by pouring in 17 points against Purdue Northwest on February 3rd, 2018. Heath joined 28 other players in Tech program history to surpass 1,000 career points.
Heath closed the 2017-18 regular season by firing in a career high 29 points against Davenport on February 24th. Heath converted on 40.8 percent of his three-point attempts, making good on 58 shots from behind the arc. Heath was a 2nd Team All-GLIAC honoree for his performance on the floor in 2017-18. He is a GLIAC North Division Preseason All-Conference selection for Tech this season.
Sophomore guard Isaac Appleby had a strong freshman season and will be a mainstay in the backcourt for the Huskies in 2018-19. Appleby, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin who redshirted during the 2016-17 campaign, played in all 29 games and logged 24 starts for the Huskies this past season. He averaged 7.2 points per game and led the team in assists by dishing out 3.3 per contest. Appleby establish a career high points total of 20 against Northwood on December 2nd. He was also active on the glass by pulling down 3.4 rebounds each time he took the floor.
Joining Appleby in the backcourt will be junior Tommy Lucca who was limited to nine games last season due to an injury. Lucca averaged 8.2 points per game and connected on 43.8 percent of his triples a year ago. Lucca averaged 15.7 points per contest as a freshman in 2016-17 and enters this year with a career points per game average of 14.0. In two years on the court, Lucca is dishing out 4.3 assists while grabbing 3.5 rebounds per game in 39 total appearances.
Other key returners who saw playing time last season include junior Ryan Schuller, sophomore Trent Bell, sophomore Dawson Bilski, senior Sean Clarey, and senior KC Borseth. Players who redshirted in 2017-18 are Elisha Coleman, Kyle Clow, and TeeAaron Powell. Newcomers who will battle for some playing time are Jalen Carter(Chicago, Ill./Lindblom), Devin Schmitz (Dollar Bay, Mich./Dollar Bay), Eric Carl (Kaukauna, Wis./Kaukauna), Owen White (Rhinelander, Wis./Rhinelander), Dylon Williams(Boyne City, Mich./Boyne City), Jake Witt (Bruce Crossing, Mich./Ewen Trout Creek), and Carter Johnston (Beaverton, Mich./Beaverton).
The Huskies tip-off the regular season on Saturday November 10th against Lewis in Marquette, Michigan at 1 p.m. with the home opener slated for Thursday December 6th at 7:30 p.m. against Parkside. Tech has an exhibition game Thursday November 1st at NCAA Division I Wisconsin-Green Bay beginning at 8 p.m. eastern time.
The 2018-19 GLIAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll will be released Thursday at 11 a.m.