October 28, 2010

2010-11 GLIAC Men’s Basketball Preview: Coaches Pick Grand Valley State & Findlay to Win Divisional Titles

By Sandy Gholston, Special Writer for the GLIAC

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BAY CITY, Mich. - It’s early, but by all indications it appears the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) again will stand tall as one of the premier Division II men’s college basketball leagues in the nation.

Big-time teams and big-time players appear destined to define the GLIAC this season. The Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25 has the University of Findlay ranked second in the nation and Grand Valley State rated ninth in the land. The Oilers return a team led by standout senior guard Nathan Hyde, the 2010 GLIAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, while junior small forward Justin Ringler, a NABC Midwest Region First Team selection, leads the Lakers.

2010 GLIAC Men’s Basketball
Preseason Poll

Rank

School (1st-place votes)

Pts.

North Division

1.

Grand Valley State (22)

172

2.

Ferris State (2)

128

3.

Saginaw Valley State (1)

97

4.

Lake Superior State

92

5.

Michigan Tech

79

6.

Northern Michigan

76

7.

Northwood

56

South Division

1.

Findlay (23)

173

2.

Hillsdale (2)

146

3.

Wayne State

115

4.

Ashland

111

5.

Lake Erie

63

6.

Tiffin

47

7.

Ohio Dominican

45

Last season, the Oilers finished 24-7 as Findlay won the 2009-10 GLIAC Men’s Basketball Tournament championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Tournament. Led by Hyde, expectations are again high for the Oilers.

Grand Valley returns an experienced group of players led by Ringler, whose game and leadership skills continue to develop. The Lakers advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Semifinals before it was ousted by St. Joseph’s (Ind.), 78-76 in overtime.

The GLIAC also boasts one of the premier individual players in all of Division II in senior 6-foot-7 power forward/center Justin Keenan, the 2010-11 GLIAC “Preseason Player of the Year.” A returning All-American, Keenan was named the 2010-11 Division II Bulletin National Preseason Player of the Year. The Grand Rapids native averaged a league-best 21.1 points last season through 22 conference regular-season contests for the Bulldogs.

The Oilers, Lakers and Bulldogs have no shortage of competition with their sights set on winning the GLIAC and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

In the 2010-11 GLIAC Preseason Men’s Basketball Poll, Findlay was picked first in the South Division with 173 points and 23 of 25 first-place votes. The Oilers were followed by Hillsdale College with 146 points and two first-place votes, Wayne State with 115 points, Ashland with 111, Lake Erie College with 63, Tiffin University with 47 and Ohio Dominican University with 45.

In the North Division, GVSU was picked first with 172 points and 22 of 25 first-place votes. Ferris was picked second with two first-place votes and 128 points and Saginaw Valley State University was picked third with one first-place vote and 97 points. Lake Superior State University was picked fourth with 92 points, Michigan Tech University was fifth with 79 points, Northern Michigan University was sixth with 76 points and Northwood University was seventh with 56.

2010 GLIAC Men’s Basketball
Preseason Player of the Year

Justin Keenan

FSU

Sr.

F/C

2010 Men’s Basketball
North Division

Preseason All-GLIAC Teams

First Team

Name

School

Year

Pos.

Mike Hojnacki

MTU

Jr.

F

Kyle Hunt

LSSU

Jr.

G

Justin Keenan

FSU

Sr.

F/C

Raymont McElroy

NMU

Jr.

G

Justin Ringler

GVSU

Sr.

F/G

Second Team

Greg Foster

SVSU

Jr.

G

Darien Gay

FSU

Sr.

G

Alvin Storrs

GVSU

Jr.

G

Chris Webb

SVSU

So.

G

A. VanDierenDonck

NU

So.

G

2010 Men’s Basketball
South Division

Preseason All-GLIAC Teams

First Team

Name

School

Yr.

Pos.

Kyle Caiola

UF

Jr.

G

Brent Eaton

HC

Jr.

F

Nathan Hyde

UF

Sr.

G

Jerry Oden

WSU

Sr.

F

Kale Richardson

AU

Sr.

F

Second Team

Ethan Bradshaw

LEC

Sr.

G

Tyler Gerber

HC

Jr.

G

Tyler Sparks

UF

Sr.

F

Bryan Smothers

WSU

Sr.

G

Ike Udanoh

WSU

Sr.

C

Here’s a preview of teams in their projected order of finish according to this year’s GLIAC Preseason Men’s Basketball Media Poll:

North Division

1. Grand Valley State University

Overview: The Lakers return with a strong group of veterans ready to make waves in the GLIAC, the region and the nation. Grand Valley welcomes back versatile 6-foot-4 senior forward Justin Ringler, who averaged 13.4 points and 6.9 rebounds. Also back is 6-foot-5 senior forward Toreau Brown, who averaged 10.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. In the paint, senior big man Mike Przydzial, at 6-foot-7, expects to bounce back this season to provide stability in the middle. At guard, Alvin Storrs averaged 8.6 points and Breland Hogan averaged 5.2 points last season to preview the returning backcourt performers for Grand Valley. Don’t forget about 6-foot-5 swingman K’Len Morris (a former University of Michigan player), who has battled injury issues, but is capable of a breakout year if he can return healthy.

Coach: Ric Wesley is in his sixth season as head men’s basketball coach at Grand Valley State University.

Quick Facts: GVSU welcomes back 12 returning letterwinners from last season with just one lost. Additionally, the Lakers return all five starters … Ringler and Storrs were named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 22-9 overall, 16-6 GLIAC
 
2. Ferris State University

Overview: Head coach Bill Sall sends to the court one of the best and most experienced squads he has had in recent seasons. It is no big secret that leading the Bulldogs this winter will be 6-foot-7 senior Justin Keenan, an All-American last season who already this year has been named the 2010-11 Division II Bulletin National Preseason Player of the Year. A year ago, Keenan averaged a GLIAC-best 21.1 points through 22 league regular-season games. Keenan will have plenty of help with senior sharpshooters in guard Darien Gay and swingman Matt DeHart. Daniel Sutherlin, a sophomore, has made off-season strides according to Sall. Lou Williams, a 6-foot-7 senior, also is back to strengthen Ferris’ frontcourt. The Bulldogs have some strong newcomers in 6-foot-6 Jerrell Sanders, 6-foot-2 guard Kenny Brown and 6-foot-5 wing player Brandyn Mungo.

Coach: Bill Sall is entering his ninth season as the head men’s basketball coach at Ferris State University.

Quick Facts: Ferris lost long-time top assistant coach Cory Anderson, but has added Andy Bronkema, who has served in recent years on Coach Sall’s staff as an assistant … Keenan was named the GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year … Gay was named to the All-GLIAC preseason team.

2009-10 Record: 16-13 overall, 13-9 GLIAC

3. Saginaw Valley State University

Overview: Expectations should be high for Saginaw Valley. The Cardinals return a roster loaded with talent led by junior guard Greg Foster, sophomore backcourt mate Chris Webb and senior forward Keithan Jackson, who opened a lot of eyes with his strong play on the hardwood as he debuted in the GLIAC. On the strength of this trio, Saginaw Valley has a solid foundation for success this year. Last season, Foster averaged 13 points and 4.4 rebounds and was the top assist man with 91 helpers. Jackson averaged 12.5 points and 9.7 rebounds while Webb was a double-digit scorer for Saginaw Valley at 10.4 points per game.

Coach: Frankie Smith is entering his fourth season as the head men’s basketball coach at Saginaw Valley State University.

Quick Facts: Saginaw Valley welcomes back three starters with two starters lost. In all, the Cardinals have 10 letterwinners … Foster and Webb were named to the All-GLIAC preseason team.

2009-10 Record: 16-12 overall, 13-9 GLIAC

4. Lake Superior State University

Overview: Lake Superior hopes to remain near the top of the GLIAC’s North Division led by a high-end player in junior guard Kyle Hunt. Last winter, as a sophomore, Hunt averaged 12.1 points as he played in and started all 12 games for the Lakers. This year’s Lake Superior team is considerable younger than it has been in recent seasons. The seniors on the roster are 6-foot-3 guard Micah Hudson, who averaged nine points; 6-foot-7 center Justin Williams, who averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds last season; and 6-foot-5 forward Andrew Charlesworth, who averaged 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds. Mike Boylan, a 6-foot-10 center, and Hunt are the juniors while the rest of the team is comprised of sophomores and freshmen.

Coach: Steve Hettinga is entering his fourth year as the head men’s basketball coach at Lake Superior State University.

Quick Facts: Hunt, one of the top returning players for the Lakers, was named an All-GLIAC Second Team player during the 2009-10 season … Hunt was named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 14-14 overall, 12-10 GLIAC
 

5. Michigan Technological University

Overview: Long-time head coach Kevin Luke has had high-level success throughout his tenure at Michigan Tech. As always, the Huskies will be tough to handle as they will again be well-coached, will play tough defense and fundamental offense. The top returning player for the Huskies is 6-foot-7 junior Mike Hojnacki, a talented forward with the tools to be a high-end GLIAC, regional and national player. He led the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game and in rebounding at 6.1. Ali Haidar is a tough inside player who provides strength and toughness. Nate Kindt, at 6-9 and Brian Olley, at 6-7 help give the Huskies a strong frontcourt. MTU will look to see what guards emerge this season. One of the top candidates will be senior Dan Fowler, who averaged 9.3 points last season and Matt Gaedke, who averaged 8.3 points.

Coach: Kevin Luke is entering his 17th season as the head men’s basketball coach at Michigan Technological University.

Quick Facts: The Huskies play five of seven January games at home and five of seven February contests on the road … Hojnacki was named to the All-GLIAC preseason team.

2009-10 Record: 9-18 overall, 8-14 GLIAC

6. Northern Michigan University

Overview: It will be a new era at Northern with the familiar name of Dean Ellis no longer on the sidelines after nearly a quarter of a century. The Wildcats’ new head coach is Doug Lewis, who comes to Marquette after coaching at Central State University for seven seasons as head coach. The top returning player for the Wildcats figures to be 6-1 junior guard Raymont McElroy, who is one of the better guards in the GLIAC. As a sophomore, McElroy started 25 of 26 games he played in for the Wildcats and averaged 16.9 points and was the Northern leader with 100 assists. Jared Benson is back at center, standing 6-10. A year ago, he averaged 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds. Mylan Murphy, at 6-9, averaged 7.4 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Coach: Doug Lewis is entering his first season as the head men’s basketball coach at Northern Michigan University.

Quick Facts: Malcolm Fields, who was a volunteer assistant under Doug Lewis at Central State, follows him to Marquette to serve as top assistant for the Wildcats … McElroy was named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 11-15 overall, 8-14 GLIAC

7. Northwood University

Overview: New names and faces will define the start of a new era in men’s college basketball at Northwood. First-year head coach Jeff Rekeweg now is running the show in Midland. On the floor, the returning cast is led by second-year guard Andrew VanDierenDonck, who averaged 8.4 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Timberwolves. Northwood graduated much of its firepower from last winter, but VanDierenDonck leads the returners. Senior big man Alex Erickson is back in the paint, at 6-7 and the other senior is 5-11 guard Matt Wittbrodt. Two juniors are listed on the roster in Bobby Gibson a 6-8 center and Joe Powers, a 6-3 guard. The balance of the roster is comprised large of young players with three sophomores and 11 freshmen.

Coach: Jeff Rekeweg is entering his 1st season as the head men’s basketball coach at Northwood University.

Quick Facts: Coach Rekeweg’s staff consists of assistant coaches Barry Huckeby, D.J. Mocini and Lewis Garner … VanDierenDonck was named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 12-14 overall, 9-13 GLIAC

 

South Division

1. University of Findlay

Overview: Findlay has a strong tradition in basketball that looks poised to continue into the 2010-11 season. The Oilers figure to challenge again for GLIAC, regional and perhaps national supremacy led by a dynamic set of guards. Nathan Hyde, a senior; and Tyler Sparks, also a senior; and Kyle Caiola, a junior and a highly-touted transfer from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Head coach Ron Niekamp has a history of reloading his roster and finding talented players from all over the state of Ohio to keep UF among the top NCAA Division II programs in the country. Hyde is the top returning scorer after averaging 18.4 points last winter while shooting 44 percent from outside the 3-point arc. Sparks ranked third on the team in scoring last season as he averaged 11.1 points, six rebounds and shot 41 percent from 3-point land.

Coach: Ron Niekamp is in his 25th season as the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Findlay.

Quick Facts: Kyle Caiola, a transfer from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, ended his two-year career at Lowell with 1,043 points … Caiola, Hyde and Sparks were named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 24-7 overall, 17-5 GLIAC

2. Hillsdale College

Overview: Hillsdale returns another solid team with a nice inside-outside combination that includes 6-5 forward Brent Eaton, a junior, and 5-10 guard Tyler Gerber, a playmaking guard who also is a junior. Brad Guinane, a 6-6 forward, is another player who could be leaned upon to help get work done in the paint for the Chargers. Eaton averaged 13.9 points and 3.4 rebounds. Additionally, Gerber averaged 11 points and led the team with 137 assists last season. Guinane, a scoring threat inside and outside, averaged 8.8 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. Nick Washburn, standing 6-9, last season averaged 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds for the Chargers as he added size and strength in the paint.

Coach: John Tharp returns for his fourth season on the bench as the head men’s basketball coach at Hillsdale College.

Quick Facts: Hillsdale, known over the years for its size in the paint with some big men, recruited 7-1 Brandon Crane from Midland for its roster … Eaton and Gerber were named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 16-13 overall, 14-8 GLIAC

3. Wayne State University

Overview: Wayne returns a strong cast of players with proven GLIAC track records led by forward Jerry Oden, a 6-4 senior; speedy guard Bryan Smothers, a 5-9 guard; and center Ike Udanoh a 6-8 center. Oden averaged 13 points and 5.2 rebounds last season for the Warriors while Smothers averaged 12.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and dished a team-best 75 assists. Udanoh averaged 10.7 points and 6.5 rebounds for WSU. Dale Brundidge is another key guard who is a steady presence in the backcourt for the Warriors.

Coach: David Greer is entering his tenth season as head men’s basketball coach at Wayne State University.

Quick Facts: Wayne begins the season with five of its first eight games on its home court in Detroit … Oden, Smothers and Udanoh were named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 14-13 overall, 12-10 GLIAC

4. Ashland University

Overview: Ashland gained valuable experience last season during the first year of head coach John Ellenwood’s tenure at AU. On the strength of that experience, the Eagles hope to take a big step forward this season. In that effort, Ashland will be once again led by a top GLIAC player in 6-foot-8, 265-pound Kale Richardson. Last winter, Richardson averaged 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Eagles as he again proved to be a talented force in the paint and deadly from outside the 3-point line hitting 36.1 percent. Look out for center Evan Yates, a sophomore, at center. Yates averaged nine points and 4.7 rebounds last season. Justin Garris has the potential for a breakthrough season and sharpshooter Taylor Hobbs has gained experience as a consistent component of the lineup. Blake Saunders, at 6-7 and 6-3 guard Jake Smith are players who could elevate their play. A pair of newcomers in 6-6 Antoine Childs, who comes from Western Carolina, and freshman Will Evans, a Kentucky native, will battle for playing time. In Childs, Ellenwood has a player he feels should be able to come in and pay early dividends.

Coach: John Ellenwood is entering his second season as the head men’s basketball coach at Ashland University.

Quick Facts: The last time Ashland made an NCAA post-season appearance was during the 1990-91 season … Richardson was named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2009-10 Record: 13-15 overall, 9-13 GLIAC

5. Lake Erie College

Overview: Lake Erie is new to the GLIAC, but one of its players already has gained some recognition in the form of respect from the conference. Ethan Bradshaw, a 6-1 senior guard, is expected to be one of the team leaders for the Storm. Last season, he averaged 16 points as he played in all but one game for Lake Erie. Bradshaw showed his versatility as he led the team in steals (38), made 3-pointers (46), free-throw percentage (79.6) and minutes per game (30.9). Antonio Kidd, a 6-foot guard, averaged 9.4 points last season and dished a team-best 86 assists to set up teammates. Matt Grendel, at 6-8 adds size in the paint. Garrick Sims, also at 6-8, adds more size as he averaged 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. While the Storm will be new to the GLIAC it will hope that some talented players on its roster will help ease that transition as it gets started in one of the top Division II leagues in the nation.

Coach: Cliff Hunt is entering his sixth season as the head men’s basketball coach at Lake Erie College.

Quick Facts: Lake Erie played two early exhibition contests in October. One was played against the University of Guelph, an 87-74 loss, and against McMaster University, an 87-78 setback.

2009-10 Record: 11-16 overall, N/A GLIAC

6. Tiffin University

Overview: Tiffin has a cast of returners who have gained valuable GLIAC experience as the Dragons prepare for the start of the 2010-11 season. Rafael Cuellar, a strong senior post player, averaged 10.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season to lead the team. Keenan Barlow, a 6-6 junior, is back after averaging 9.9 points and 4.4 rebounds. Senior swingman Brian Scott, a 5-7 guard, averaged 8.2 points while Travis Spahr, a 6-6 junior forward, averaged 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. Tiffin hopes it has added a solid group of newcomers who can help strengthen the lineup this season. The Dragons hope to achieve a higher level of success this season after enduring a 2-25 overall record last season.

Coach: John Hill is entering his second season as the head men’s basketball coach at Tiffin University.

Quick Facts: Tiffin returns seven letterwinners from last season with four lost … The team also has four returning starters this winter.

2009-10 Record: 2-25 overall, 1-21 GLIAC

7. Ohio Dominican University

Overview: Ohio Dominican is entering its first season of GLIAC competition coming off of a challenging 2009-10 season during which it finished 10-17 playing as an NAIA independent. While the season as a whole was a tough one, the Panthers do have seven returning letterwinners returning led by 6-foot-3 Aaron Gibbs, who averaged 12.2 points and eight rebounds last season while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor. Inside, 6-8 forward John Trew is an inside and outside threat for ODU as he knocked down 40 triples and averaged 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. Zak Kapron, at 6-7 averaged 7.6 points and 5.3 rebounds last season. Eddie Hayden, a three-year letterwinner who previously played at Division I Coppin State, is expected to contribute right away. The Panthers have added a number of newcomers who might pay dividends right off the bat as the squad transitions to high-level Division II competition in the GLIAC.

Coach: Artie Taylor is entering his fourth season as the head men’s basketball coach at Ohio Dominican University.

Quick Facts: ODU made four National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournament appearances.

2009-10 Record: 10-17 overall, N/A GLIAC

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