Northwestern's Tecker asserting himself

Northwestern coach Dan Cowley can appreciate an unselfish basketball player. But for the past two seasons, he's been trying to convince Steve Tecker to be greedy.


Northwestern coach Dan Cowley can appreciate an unselfish basketball player. But for the past two seasons, he's been trying to convince Steve Tecker to be greedy.

"When he was a freshman and a sophomore, I was begging him to shoot the basketball," Cowley said. "He wouldn't. He only would take wide-open shots."

Now a junior, Tecker is starting to heed his coach's advice. And as a result, Tecker has grown into one of northwest Wisconsin's most prolific scorers and best all-around players. He's also helped Northwestern become one of the state's best Division 2 teams.

The Tigers (8-0, 4-0), the odds-on favorites in the Heart O'North Conference, are ranked fourth in the Associated Press state poll released Monday.

Leading the way is the 6-foot-5 Tecker, who's averaging 23.5 points per game -- a considerable increase from the 15.2 he averaged last season.


"What I've worked on a lot is trying to get more shots up and become more of a scorer," said Tecker, who's been a varsity contributor since his freshman season. "That's one thing I'm trying to do more of."

Even as a more passive underclassmen, Tecker was a handful for Heart O'North defenses. With his size, he can have his way with most wing players inside. And his athleticism and body control make him a constant threat to attack the basket or pull up for a mid-range jumper.

But now that he's become more assertive on the offensive end, his game has risen to a whole new level -- though it also doesn't hurt that he's improved both his ball-handling and perimeter shooting.

"The thing with him is he's so versatile," Cowley said. "He gets to the foul line a lot because he's so aggressive. He doesn't get a whole lot of offensive fouls because he knows how to slip between defenders. He's just a good scorer. He can certainly do a lot of different things."

To say Northwestern is a one-man band would be more than unfair. Six-foot-7 senior Aaron Corry is a skilled forward with an inside-outside game that has Division II and III college coaches drooling. And 6-foot-8 junior Donnie Hissa also has his fair share of college suitors.

But when it comes to filling up a highlight reel, it's hard to compete with Tecker.

"I think the biggest thing with Tecker is he can go right or left," Bloomer coach Todd Marks said. "He's got great body control; he can finish with both hands. He can step out too and he posts well. He's a tough matchup."

Tecker has yet to receive any college offers but said he's receiving strong interest from North Dakota, North Dakota State and Drake.


Others have sent him letters but no one has made a concrete offer to this point. But with the way he's playing this season, those offers will come.

"During the game, it doesn't really matter who's watching to me," Tecker said. "I just play."

Tecker knows he has plenty of room for improvement. Three-point shooting has been at the top of his to-do list because at the next level, he knows he'll be lining up as an off guard or wing forward.

But that's still a year and a half in the future. Only a junior, Tecker has plenty of time to keep getting better -- not exactly what the rest of the conference wants to hear.

"This year whenever he can score, he's looking to score," Cowley said. "I think that's the biggest jump between last year and this year, that he's just aggressive."

TIGER TALES: Northwestern hosts Ladysmith at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

-- Copyright (c) 2009, Eau Claire Leader-Telegram/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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