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February 5, 2013

Improved defense helps put Tower boys hoops at top of MAC Gold

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Warren Woods Tower boys basketball team is right in the middle of the race for the MAC Gold title after finishing near the bottom of the division last year. Pictured is Titans senior Michael Patchak, who leads Tower in scoring (16 points per game) and rebounding (10).

WARREN — The Warren Woods Tower boys basketball team allowed 55.1 points a game last season and finished near the bottom of the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division.

A renewed emphasis on defense had the Titans at 9-3, 5-1 MAC Gold at press time, putting them in a three-way tie atop the Gold with New Haven and Mount Clemens. Tower’s 48.8 points-per-game allowed are good for seventh in the MAC. The Titan’s defense was 24th in the conference last season.

“We know we gave up a lot of points last year, so we made it a point to spend more time working on defense because you have to play good defense to get wins,” said Tower coach Nick Evola, in his second year with the Titans.

“Everything starts on (defense) for us. We like to use our defense to set the tempo and make our opponents play how we want and we’ve been seeing results so far.”

Tower runs a mix of man and zone defenses, with the hopes of keeping the opposition out of its comfort zone. That approach has helped the Titans hold five of 12 opponents under 40 points.

Evola said he likes his defense to force turnovers, which can lead to easy transition buckets. He added much of the work in improving Tower’s defense took place in workouts over the summer.

“We were kind of bad on defense last year, so we spent a lot of time working on getting better on (defense) in the offseason and preseason,” senior forward Michael Patchak said. “We’ve got a lot of guys on this team who want to win and who’ll do whatever they can to get wins. So many guys have stepped up for us on defense this year.”

Patchak leads the Titans with 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. Evola said the senior forward does it all on the floor.

Also helping to lead the Tower attack is senior point guard Lamar Thomas, who Evola called a floor general who keeps everything under control and who provides a spark on defense.

“We know we’re off to a solid start,” said Evola, whose team went 11-10, 5-7 in the Gold last season, “but we know we can’t let up. I try and talk to the guys every day about not getting complacent. They have to stay hungry and work to get better every day.”

Patchak said he knows the Titans can get better. He said he hopes that leads to a MAC Gold title, which would be the program’s first since the 2009-10 campaign.

“To be able to go out and add to our banner would be great,” Patchak said. “We just have to keep up the intensity.”

“There’s not a lot of division and district titles up on that wall,” Evola said. “They know what it’d mean for the school if they were to add to it. They just have to go out and take care of business.”

Tower next hits the hardwood for a matchup with New Haven, set for 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at New Haven.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.