Basalt High grad Michael Glen shining for School of Mines basketball team
Michael Glen’s collegiate debut was anything but spectacular.
The 2017 Basalt High School graduate started the Oct. 30 exhibition for the Colorado School of Mines, a 78-52 loss at the University of Colorado in Boulder. His last meaningful contest had been a Class 3A playoff game as a Longhorn, so going from that to facing Division I athletes was quite the step.
“They ran a couple of plays directed at me right at the beginning, so it really opened my eyes very quickly,” Glen recalled earlier this week. “Everyone is quicker and taller and stronger and that just makes it a lot more fast paced and keeps you a little more on your toes than in high school.”
The Orediggers only trailed by three points at halftime against CU, but were run out of the gym in the second half. Glen, who played 27 minutes in that game, finished with five points, seven rebounds and three turnovers.
Things didn’t get a whole lot better for Glen in the early part of the season for the NCAA Division II Mines men’s basketball team, but it was nothing the future engineer couldn’t figure out.
“That’s always a challenge for us recruiting here. Do guys love it?” said Mines’ longtime coach Pryor Orser. “Do they love it enough to go above and beyond the expectations of a coach and really get in the gym because they love practicing? And he’s one of those that does. He cares, too. If he has a bad performance shooting he’s in the gym. All those things that we saw and we see are signs of a good player.”
A freshman force
Saturday night, the Mines will play at West Texas A&M in the first round of the South Central Regional. The Buffs are the No. 1 seed in their regional bracket, while the Mines snuck in as the eighth and final seed in the eight-team regional bracket.
And without Glen, the Orediggers probably wouldn’t be playing in their fifth straight NCAA tournament. After his slow start, Glen went on to become a force for the Mines and was recently named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference freshman of the year and was an honorable mention RMAC selection.
The true freshman started 29 of 30 games for the Mines and finished third on the team with 10.8 points per game. He led the Orediggers with 7.1 rebounds per game and has a team-high 44 blocks. His best performance came Feb. 16 against No. 14 Fort Lewis, a 79-68 win in which Glen had a game-high 27 points and was one rebound away from a double-double.
“At the beginning of the season I talked with my dad and one of the assistant coaches, Scott (Hill), and I was telling them that was kind of my goal, deep down, to see if I could achieve that. And having that come true is amazing,” Glen said of being named the RMAC freshman of the year. “I wasn’t sure I was going to play as much as I did. I came into the season just trying to accept whatever role was given to me and just happy that role turned out to be as important as it was.”
Glen, who actually grew up playing baseball, sprouted in high school and led Basalt basketball to some of the best seasons in school history. As a senior, he led BHS to a 21-4 record and a spot in the 3A state quarterfinals for the first time in 28 years. He finished his Longhorn career with 1,390 points, 694 rebounds and 169 blocked shots.
After looking at some DIII schools out east — he was set in following his father’s footsteps in becoming an engineer — he ultimately signed with the Mines, which are based out of Golden, last April.
At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, there might have been some questions about Glen’s physicality at the collegiate level. And while that’s still a concern as his freshman season nears an end, he’s also shown he has more than enough skill to become a legitimate presence in the RMAC over the coming years.
“He went back and worked on his game,” Orser said of Glen after he left their team camp last year. “Sometimes he’s soft, then he’s had guys get really physical with him. That’s because teams are preparing for him. They respect him. That’s also a sign of a good player, when teams actually start preparing for you.”
DISCOVERING HIS ROLE
Glen plays the stretch four position for the Mines — basically an athletic forward who can stretch the defense and play on the perimeter. He’s fourth on the team with 26 made 3-pointers this season. Glen said he’s added between 10 and 15 pounds of muscle since high school, and the coaching staff has significantly fine-tuned his defensive skills.
Glen said he wants to model his play off of Westminster (Utah) senior Dayon Goodman, the RMAC player of the year who led the conference with 27.7 points per game. Goodman has a similar build to Glen.
“Looking at him, I try to think how I can emulate my game off of him,” Glen said. “I just want to keep improving each year and eventually at some point in my career win the RMAC title. As of right now that’s the goal in the back of my mind. I think we have a lot of good things going on with our team.”
After an 11-1 start to the season in which the Mines climbed into the top 10 nationally, they lost one of their best players and had to scrape and claw their way into the NCAA tournament with a bunch of inexperienced players. Considering this, Orser was simply ecstatic to make the postseason.
Saturday’s 5 p.m. game against West Texas A&M is a rematch of last year’s regional final where the Mines won 88-63 to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The Orediggers (22-8 overall) face more of an uphill challenge this time around against the Buffs, who are 28-3 overall and ranked No. 11 in the DII coaches’ poll.
But, it’s experience Glen and his young teammates can bottle up for the future.
“He’s going to have to guard some very good 3-point shooters on Saturday, so he’s going to have to be really motivated and focused,” Orser said of Glen. “We’re happy to have him though. He’s doing well in school. We got to keep the hammer on him. He’s going to be a big part of us here and we’ve got some really good players coming in.”
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Bringing the game of golf to the community, and particularly making it accessible to young players, is a focus for Steve VanDyke as the director of golf at River Valley Ranch.