Trying to take the next step

NMU men's basketball releases 2018-19 schedule

Northern Michigan’s Naba Echols searches for a pass as Saginaw Valley State’s Fred John Jr. blocks Saturday morning, Dec. 2, 2017, at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University basketball team took a good step forward last season by making the GLIAC Tournament for the first time in 11 years and having their best overall season since 2006-07, finishing 15-13 overall and 12-8 in the conference.

Now the Wildcats are getting set to lace up their sneakers once again as they recently released their 2018-19 schedule. The highlight of the year being that Northern will host the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge to open the season. NMU will play McKendree (Ill.) November 10 and Lewis (Ill.) Nov. 11. Minnesota-Duluth then comes to Marquette on Nov. 13.

NMU then heads downstate for the Hillsdale Tournament Nov. 20-21 with the Wildcats playing Ohio Dominican on the 20th and the host Chargers on the 21st.

The GLIAC season follows Nov. 29 when Northern plays at Northwood and the conference home opener takes place December 6 with conference newcomer Wisconsin-Parkside coming to town Dec. 8.

The Wildcats will play their last non-conference games Dec. 18-19 at the Bellarmine (Ky.) Tournament.

In addition to team success last year, then-juniors Naba Echols and Isaiah Johnson both made the All-GLIAC First Team, which is the first time NMU has had a player on the First Team since 2008.

Both players averaged 17.5 points per game to lead the Wildcats with Echols scoring 20 points or more 12 times and leading the team in assists.

Johnson led Northern in rebounds and was tied for second on the team in 3-point shooting. NMU also returns all but two of its players from last year, so the Wildcats could be primed for a big year this season.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.