Boys Basketball

Munster is No. 1 again and the point guard position is the main reason

2013-02-21T17:00:00Z 2013-05-06T22:11:08Z Munster is No. 1 again and the point guard position is the main reasonSteve Hanlon steve.hanlon@nwi.com, (219) 933-4198 nwitimes.com
February 21, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

MUNSTER | It's like being a floppy-haired rocker from Liverpool. Or a top-shelf professional baseball player from the Bronx. Or a film with Tom Cruise in the lead role.

They are great. They are constant. They seem to never end.

Basketball coaches call the point guard position the "1." Boys basketball fans in Indiana call Munster's Mustangs No. 1. These same numbers are directly linked at Munster, who is undefeated and ranked No. 1 in both state polls as the 103rd IHSAA state tournament begins Monday.

This is the second time in three seasons that Munster is loss-less and ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press' and Indiana Basketball Coaches Association's state polls.

And Michael Schlotman has been Munster's point guard both times.

"We just have to stay focused," Schlotman said on Monday at the Sportsmanship Banquet. "We have to keep working hard every day."

The quotes are like the play, nothing flashy. Schlotman is averaging 12 points a game. For those looking for an ESPN highlight reel, look somewhere else. For old-school fans who love team play and winning, get a movie camera.

Schlotman has been on three Munster teams who have lost five games in three winters.

Munster coach Mike Hackett has built his program with every part of the puzzle. But it all starts with the No. 1.

"In order to be a point guard in our system you have to have a high basketball IQ," Hackett said. "We have a lot of those kids.  You also have to be tough. Unselfish. And very skilled with the basketball.

"We've been able to identify those kind of kids in our program when they're young. They get an early start."

It started for Hackett with Aric Van Weelden, who graduated from Munster in 2006 and went on to Loyola. He passed the No. 1 jersey to Mike Bizoukas, who graduated from Munster in 2007 and moved on to DePaul.

Then, it was Krste Ruiz and Kyle Ritz. The Mustangs didn't stop losing, which is why Hackett's record is 248-56 in his 13th year at Munster.

"It all starts with the point guard position," Hackett said.

Hackett showed good wisdom 13 years ago. Schlotman was 5 and his mother, Joan, had missed the deadline to get her son into a youth camp. She went and spoke to Hackett, who allowed Michael to sign up late.

It was the last time the 6-foot-5 hoops crazy kid was late for anything.

Joan grew up in Ohio and played one year of basketball at Purdue. Her husband, Chris, grew up in Gary and attended Andrean.

"Michael was very competitive," Joan said. "He loved getting all those little ribbons for winning a competition. I still have all of them. He has always loved to win. When he was a freshman, his older sister and her friends saw him in the school and they laughed because he had a cocky walk."

Two years ago, as a skinny sophomore, Schlotman was thrust into the starting lineup at the point. The talented, senior-dominated team was nearly unbeatable. A last-second shot at the semistate cost the Mustangs a trip to the state finals.

"This difference between that year and this year is we knew we were going to be good in 2011," Hackett said. "We had a lot of experience coming back. This year, well, we weren't so sure."

Schlotman had offers from Davidson, UIC, Vermont, American and San Jose State. But he signed with William & Mary.

Another dominating winter in Munster. Another Division I point guard. Do the math.

As good as this team is, Munster got a very tough draw. It opens with E.C. Central on Wednesday. If it survives, a very tough West Side team is likely to be waiting on Friday. And if it can get to Saturday night, defending champion Lake Central is likely waiting.

In 2011, Munster beat all three teams in the sectional, only in a different order.

All of these three potential opponents have talent headed to bigger universities. But none of them have Schlotman and Munster's point guard tradition.

"We always stay focused, we know it's one step at a time," Schlotman said. "We are used to having the target on our backs so that's nothing new. I love to compete. We all want to get to the state championship game. That is our goal."

And if you think Munster's tradition ends this March, you're wrong. Kevin Schlotman is a sophomore. He is also a point guard. And classmate Drew Hackett can play both the 1 and the 2.

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