2011-12 GLIAC Men’s Basketball Preview: Coaches Pick Michigan Tech & Findlay to Win Divisional Titles

By Sandy Gholston, Special Writer for the GLIAC

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BAY CITY, Mich. – Last year was a year of superstar-led teams as student-athletes like Justin Keenan, from Ferris State University; Justin Ringler, from Grand Valley State University; and Nathan Hyde, from the University of Findlay, lived up to their star billing on the hardwood. With those familiar faces having graduated, however, the door is open for new stars to emerge in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

A large group of student-athletes are poised to take aim at being the GLIAC’s stars of the future in basketball. That group, however, is not exclusive as the league returns a large group of talented veterans ready to lead their teams through what should be a competitive race in the North Division and the South Division this winter.

Ferris and Findlay reigned last winter as the co-champions of the GLIAC while Wayne State emerged as the GLIAC tournament champion. The Bulldogs and Warriors both advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament where Ferris State knocked out Wayne State in a 90-88 thriller in the opening round. FSU advanced to the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Final where it was defeated, 85-66, by a Bellarmine (Ky.) team that would go on to win the national championship.

In the North Division, Michigan Tech was picked to finish first with 156 points and 12 first-place votes, Grand Valley State was picked second with 151 points and 11 first-place votes, Ferris State was third with 125 points and two first-place votes, Lake Superior State was fourth with 91 points, Saginaw Valley State was tabbed fifth with 86 points, Northwood was chosen sixth, with 50 points and Northern Michigan was seventh, with 40 points.

In the 2011-12 GLIAC Preseason Men’s Basketball Poll, Findlay was picked first in the South Division with 170 points and 20 of 25 first-place votes. The Oilers were followed by Hillsdale College with 140 points and three first-place votes, Wayne State with 134 points and two first-place votes, Ashland with 96, Tiffin University with 72, Ohio Dominican University with 53, and Lake Erie College with 35.

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

 

2011-12 GLIACMen’s Basketball
Preseason Media Poll
 

Rank

School (1st-votes)

Pts.

 

North Division

1.

Michigan Tech (12)

156

 

2.

Grand Valley State (11)

151

 

3.

Ferris State (2)

125

 

4.

Lake Superior State

91

 

5.

Saginaw Valley State

86

 

6.

Northwood

50

 

7.

Northern Michigan

40

 

South Division

1.

Findlay (20)

170

 

2.

Hillsdale (3)

140

 

3.

Wayne State (2)

134

 

4.

Ashland

96

 

5.

Tiffin

72

 

6.

Ohio Dominican

53

 

7.

Lake Erie

35

 

2011-12 GLIAC Men’s Basketball
Preseason Player of the Year

Mike Hollingsworth

WSU

Jr.

G

2011-12  Men’s Basketball North Division
Preseason All-GLIAC Teams

First Team

Name

School

Yr.

Pos.

Jared Benson

NMU

Sr.

C

Greg Foster

SVSU

Sr.

G

Ali Hadar

MTU

Jr.

F

Kyle Hunt

LSSU

Sr.

G

James Thomas

GVSU

Sr.

G

Second Team

Mike Hojnacki

MTU

Sr.

F

Breland Hogan

GVSU

Jr.

G

Cameron Joyce

NU

Jr.

PG

Jerrell Sanders

FSU

Sr.

F

A. VanDierenDonck

NU

Jr.

G

2011-12 Men’s Basketball South
Division
Preseason All-GLIAC Teams

First Team

Name

School

Yr.

Pos.

Kyle Caiola

UF

Sr.

PG

Tyler Gerber

HC

Sr.

G

Brad Guinane

HC

Sr.

F

Mike Hollingsworth

WSU

Jr.

G

Evan Yates

AU

Jr.

C

Second Team

Karl Finley

TU

Sr.

G

Aaron Gibbs

ODU

Sr.

F

Joe Graessle

TU

So.

G

Aaron Robinson

UF

Jr.

G

Ike Udanoh

WSU

Sr.

C

North Division

1. Michigan Technological University

Overview: A talented group that has gained experience is back for head coach Kevin Luke as Michigan Technological University looks forward to the start of the 2011-12 season on the hardwood. In all, Tech returns 11 of 14 players from last season and four of five starters. The Huskies have size and skill inside led by 6-7 junior Ali Haidar, 6-7 senior Mike Hojnacki, 6-7 Brian Olley and 6-9 junior Nate Kindt. Haidar averaged 16.1 points and 6.7 rebounds while Hojnacki averaged 15.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. Haidar worked on his game during the summer as he spent time training and competing for the Lebanon National Team. On the wing, 6-6 sophomore shooter Jordan Reetz, who knocked down 43 percent of his 3-point shots last season, is back with a year of league experience to his credit and the backcourt will be led by a pair of sophomores in Austin Armga, who averaged 9.5 points last season and can put up points in bunches, and Alex Culy, who averaged 11.1 points a year ago for Luke’s program and was an assist guy as well with 68 helpers. Matt Esters, a junior, and Matt Gaedke, a senior, will provide depth and leadership for Tech. The Huskies finished the 2010-11 season as winners of six of its last seven games. The loss in that stretch was in the GLIAC Tournament at Ferris State, 73-64 on March 5. Having gained valuable experience and confidence, Tech is a team that should be excited about the start of the 2011-12 season.

Coaching: Kevin Luke is entering his 18th season as the head men’s basketball coach at Michigan Technological University.

Noteworthy: Luke was named Basketball Times National Coach of the Year in 2002-03 after leading his squad to a 29-3 record and a No. 1 national ranking in the final regular season poll.

2010-11 Record: 17-11 overall, 11-8 GLIAC

 

2. Grand Valley State University

Overview: Grand Valley State University has some big shoes to fill with the loss of do-everything forward Justin Ringler. Ringler was one of the key leaders for a team that won 19 games last season. The cupboard is hardly bare, however, as the Lakers return a talented group led by junior guard Breland Hogan and senior guard James Thomas. Thomas, who started 26 of 27 games, is the leading returning scorer after averaging 11.1 points last season and connecting on .421 of his shots from outside of the 3-point line. Hogan returns as well for GVSU after averaging 7.4 points and starting in 22 of 27 games for the Lakers. That combination will run the show from the backcourt for GVSU. Tony Peters, a junior guard, returns as a stabilizing presence for the team. Up front, 6-7 center Nick Waddell is back along with Mike Przydzial, who has battled some injuries. Waddell is back after a strong off season that has improved his conditioning while Przydzial hopes to return to form after a long layoff. Newcomers Tyrone Lee, Josh Anderson (son of former NBA player Nick Anderson), and Ben Lanning join the squad.

Coaching: Ric Wesley has a record of 172-47 in seven seasons as head men’s basketball coach at Grand Valley.

Noteworthy: GVSU begins competition on Nov. 6 with an exhibition game in Ames, Iowa against Iowa State University before it opens the season for real with a home game on Nov. 16 against the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

2010-11 Record: 19-8 overall, 14-5 GLIAC
 
 

 

3. Ferris State University

Overview: Ferris State University’s men’s basketball program will have an unfamiliar look for the first time in a number of years as the huge presence of 6-7 All-American center Justin Keenan is no longer dominating the paint. The Bulldogs do look forward to the healthy return of 6-6 forward Jerrell Sanders, who suffered a season-ending injury during the 2010-11 season. Sanders will have a lot of help from senior point guard Dontae Molden and juniors Kenny Brown, Daniel Sutherlin and Brandyn Mungo. DeMarco Sanders is back for his sophomore season and looking to build on the experience he garnered last season. The Bulldogs have a top-notch recruiting class headlined by 6-5 forward Tyrin Wade, 6-4 Milton Cribbs, 5-10 Dietrich Lever and 5-11 guard Drew Lehman. It’s a deep and talented freshman class.

Coaching: Bill Sall is entering his 10th season as the head men’s basketball coach at Ferris State University.

Noteworthy: Sall, the 2010-11 GLIAC Coach of the Year, returns top assistant Andy Bronkema to go along with veteran assistants Bill Killian and Ed Douma. New to the staff this season is a former assistant, Jim Lake.

2010-11 Record: 24-8 overall, 16-3 GLIAC
 



4. Lake Superior State University

Overview: Lake Superior State University is hoping for a healthy season for standout guard Kyle Hunt, who was named to the All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Second Team last season in spite of the fact that he missed a large chunk of time near the end of the season due to injury. Hunt averaged 16.9 points per game and was the league’s second leading scorer prior to his final game. Junior guard Khalid Wells and junior forward Derek Kinney are expected to elevate their play this season as they did last year during Hunt’s absence. Last season, Wells averaged 11.5 points per game, while Kinney scored 7.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during the Lake State’s last 10 games of the 2010-11 campaign. Lake Superior was 3-7 down the stretch without Hunt and finished the season 15-12 overall and 9-10 in the GLIAC.

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

Noteworthy: 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.

2010-11 Record: 15-12 overall, 9-10 GLIAC
 

 

5. Saginaw Valley State University

Overview: Saginaw Valley State University will have to fill the void left by the graduation of standout forward Keithan Jackson. But, the Cardinals have some talented players back in the lineup who are ready to take on that challenge to help SVSU improve on last season’s 13-14 overall record. Saginaw Valley will focus on protecting the ball again this season as they gave up the the fewest turnovers in the Division II in 2010-11. Chris Webb, a junior; Michael Fugate, a junior and Greg Foster, a third junior, will be leading the way for Saginaw Valley this season. Foster averaged 16.3 points last season to lead the Cardinals while Fugate averaged 12.6 points and Webb 10.9. SVSU could be perimeter oriented a little more this season, but the talent there is strong for head coach Frankie Smith.

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

Noteworthy: Saginaw Valley will host Division I Miami University (Ohio) on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at O’Neill Arena in University Center.

2010-11 Record: 13-14 overall, 9-10 GLIAC
 

 

6. Northwood University

Overview: Northwood University will have some new faces on its men’s basketball roster this season, but head coach Jeff Rekeweg also welcomes back some familiar faces led by Bobby Lewis, a 6-3 senior guard; Andrew VanDierenDonck, a versatile 6-6 guard; Cameron Joyce a 5-8 junior; and Booker Stoudmire, a 6-foot guard. That is a good place to start for the Timberwolves as they aim to improve on their record of 10-18 record last season overall and 7-12 in the GLIAC. Experienced guard play is typically a key to success in the GLIAC. Lewis, a year ago, averaged 14.7 points and 6.8 rebounds, VanDierenDonck averaged 12 points and 4.5 rebounds, Joyce averaged 10.2 points and Stoudmire averaged eight points for NU.  VanDierenDonck shot 39.2 percent from outside of the 3-point line as well for the Timberwolves. Joyce averaged 5.4 assists per game for NU last season as he comiled a total of 150 through 28 games. Lewis was second on the team in assists with 42. The Timberwolves begin the regular season on Nov. 11 at home as they host Illinois-Springfield at 8 p.m.

Coaching: Jeff Rekeweg is entering his second season as the head men’s basketball coach at Northwood University.

Noteworthy: Former men’s basketball standout Jeremy Piggot was inducted into the Northwood University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame this year.

2010-11 Record: 10-18 overall, 7-12 GLIAC
 

 

7. Northern Michigan University

 Overview: Northern Michigan University is hoping to take another step forward this season with the program under head coach Doug Lewis. Last season, the Wildcats finished with a record of 9-17 overall, but the team has four returning starters this season as part of an experienced group. Junior center Jared Benson and senior guard DeAndre Taylor are back in the lineup for NMU this season. Last year, the 6-10 Benson started in 25 of 26 games and averaged 14.1 points and 6.6 rebounds with a team-best 41 blocked shots. Taylor, a 6-4 guard, averaged 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season. Matthew Craggs, a 6-6 forward and Martin Gross, a 5-11 guard, are back to strengthen the Wildcats’ lineup.

Coaching: Doug Lewis returns as head coach of the men’s basketball team at Northern Michigan University.

Noteworthy: Northern has been playing college basketball since 1906 and has qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament eight times.

2010-11 Record: 9-17 overall, 4-15 GLIAC

 

South Division


1. University of Findlay

Overview: It’s a new era in men’s college basketball at the University of Findlay as Charlie Ernst takes over as head coach for the retired Ron Niekamp. This year’s squad may be playing with a chip on its shoulders this season after finishing 24-4 overall and 16-3 in the GLIAC and being denied a bid to play in the NCAA Division II Tournament. The team has a solid group of returners led by point guard Kyle Caiola, a first-team All-GLIAC guard who averaged 14 points and 2.5 assists last season. The Oilers will have some talented and athletic players on the perimeters led by junior Aaron Robinson, who averaged 10.2 points and 4.4 rebounds, and Greg Kahlig, who averaged 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds. Jack Smith is back in the lineup after scoring 7.5 points last season. UF expects to have some contributions from freshmen Jake Heagen and Josh Brown. In the post, senior Marsden and junior Brad Piehl will be competing for playing time.

Coaching: Charlie Ernst is in his first season as the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Findlay.

Noteworthy: Findlay won the 2009 NCAA Division II National Championship under Coach Niekamp.

2010-11 Record: 24-4 overall, 16-3 GLIAC

 

 

2. Hillsdale College

Overview: Hillsdale College has the makings of a special season with a cast of talented veterans who have competed and enjoyed success on the hardwood during their careers. A strong senior class for the Chargers includes guard Tyler Gerber, swingman Brent Eaton and forward Brad Guinane. That group is expected to provide the leadership for head coach John Tharp this winter. Eaton is back as the top scorer from last season as he averaged 16.3 points and pulled down 3.4 rebounds as a junior. Last season, Guinane was the second leading scorer as he averaged 13.7 points and 6.4 rebounds. Gerber, a stabilizer in the backcourt for the Chargers, averaged 11.7 points and dished out a team-best 144 assists. Junior big man Nick Washburn, at 6-9 is back in the middle, after he started 26 games last season and averaged 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and blocked 14 shots.

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

Noteworthy: 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 … Guinane and Gerber were named to the preseason All-GLIAC team.

2010-11 Record: 20-6 overall, 14-5 GLIAC

 


3. Wayne State University

Overview: Wayne State University has three key returning starters back on hardwood this season led by Dale Brundidge, a 5-11 senior guard; Mike Hollingsworth, a 6-1 junior guard; and Ike Udanoh, a 6-8 senior center. Those veteran leaders will be the guys ready to lead the way as the Warriors hope to build off of the success of last season. A year ago, head coach David Greer’s squad finished with a record of 22-8 overall and qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament. Opponents can expect the Warriors to continue to play strong defense, rebound the basketball well and control the tempo well with a set of veteran guards.

Coaching: David Greer is entering his 11th season as head men’s basketball coach at Wayne State University.

Noteworthy: Wayne finished tied for second in the GLIAC in the South Division, but went on to win the GLIAC Tournament championship. It was the first GLIAC Tournament title since 1999.

2010-11 Record: 22-8 overall, 14-5 GLIAC




4. Ashland University

Overview: Ashland University lost some offensive firepower on the hardwood from last season, but the Eagles do return some talented players who hope to lift the program up the standings of the GLIAC’s South Division. Evan Yates, a 6-6 and 240-pound junior forward; Ronnie Steward, a 5-11 junior guard; and David Harris, a 5-5 junior guard, led a cast of returners for the Eagles of head coach John Ellenwood. Harris and Steward should benefit from familiarity in the program. Yates is the top returning scorer for Ashland this season as he averaged 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds a year ago. Steward, a transfer from the University of Akron, played in just 15 games last season, but he averaged 8.5 points. David Harris, a transfer from the University of Florida, completed in 26 games and started 18 times as he averaged 8.3 points and dished out a team-best 75 assists during the 2010-11 season. Ashland will be a young team with Antoine Childs, who previously played at Western Carolina, being the team’s lone senior listed on the roster. The Eagles like their depth and versatility with the new additions blended in with the returning veterans. AU has some newcomers who could make an impact led by 6-8 freshman forward Paul Honigford, guard Jorian Hudson, a redshirt freshman transfer from Cincinnati and Cole Krizancic, a 5-11 freshman guard.

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

Noteworthy: Former Ashland University forward Justin Garris was the first selection of the yet-to-be named Island franchise in the National Basketball League of Canada.

2010-11 Record: 13-13 overall, 7-12 GLIAC




5. Tiffin University

Overview: Tiffin University has four starters back in its lineup and seven returning letterwinners in all. Experience is generally important in the GLIAC and the Dragons now have some of that valuable experience with a veteran group returning. Last season, Tiffin finished with a record of 8-18 overall and finished 6-13 in the GLIAC as the program recorded more wins last season than it had won in the last three years combined. The top returning scorers for Tiffin are senior Karl Finley and sophomore Joe Graessle. Finley averaged 14.6 points and knocked down 39.5 percent of his shots from outside of the 3-point arc while Graessle averaged 14.2 points and 2.7 assists for the Dragons. He also knocked down 75 triples. Keenan Barlow and Travis Spahr are back as experienced hands. Barlow averaged 8.2 points while Spahr averaged 10.2.

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

Noteworthy: Hill served as Athletic Director and Associate Vice President for Development at Shenandoah University in Virginia from 2002-2009.

2010-11 Record: 8-18 overall, 6-13 GLIAC




6. Ohio Dominican University

Overview: Ohio Dominican is back with four returning starters in John Trew, a 6-8 senior; Aaron Gibbs, a 6-3 senior; Kip Kelley, a 5-11 senior; and Morgan Jones, a 5-9 junior. The Panthers totaled six wins last season as part of a 6-20 record, but the veteran lineup could yield even better results this winter on the hardwood. Jones averaged 13 points to lead ODU last season while Gibbs averaged 12.8 points and was the GLIAC’s second-leading rebounder at 7.0 per night. Kelley led the conference in three-point shooting, while 6-6 senior Jake Mochoskay came off the bench to score 10.2 points per game. That experience will be important as the Panthers will again have a tough schedule to contend with in and out of GLIAC play.

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

Noteworthy: Ohio Dominican returns 93 percent of its shooting and 89 percent of its rebounding from last season.

2010-11 Record: 6-20 overall, 3-16 GLIAC




7. Lake Erie College

Overview: Lake Erie College is ready for its second season of GLIAC basketball and hopes to build on the lessons learned from last year when the team finished 7-19 overall and 3-16 in the league. LEC competed through some tough games – the Storm lost 12 games by eight points or less, including eight by five or fewer — and hopes to turn those battles that ended in losses last year into wins this year. Lake Erie returns four starters and seven of its top eight from last season. Among the top returners for Lake Erie will be sophomore guard Riley Thomas, who started the final 21 games of his freshman year and averaged 8.6 points. Junior Garrick Sims finished eighth in the GLIAC with 6.6 rebounds per contest to go along with his eight-point scoring average. Returning senior guard Brandon Smith and senior forward Matt Grendel should both be in the mix for starting spots again with junior forward Eric Worthey, junior guard Alex Davis and sophomore forward Rich Austin. Look for potential contributions from newcomers like sophomore transfer Nate Tait and two-sport performer Jamil Dudley, an All-American high jumper.  The Storm opens the 2011-12 campaign on the road at Division I Detroit on Nov. 11, but plays its next five games at home, including its opening two GLIAC contests.

Coaching: Cliff Hunt has a record of 90-73 in seven seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Lake Erie College.

Noteworthy: The Storm’s matchup with the Detroit Titans on Nov. 11 will be Lake Erie’s second against a Division I opponent in men’s basketball.  Lake Erie played at the University of South Dakota in 2009 when the Coyotes were transitioning from DII to DI.  

2010-11 Record: 7-19 overall, 3-16 GLIAC

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