By Brian Lester, Special Writer for the GLIAC
BAY CITY, Mich. – For the second consecutive season, the University of Findlay won the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament title on the road, and for the first time since the 2008-09 season, three teams from the conference made the NCAA tournament as the Oilers, Michigan Tech and Wayne State all earned spot in the dance.
The league should be just as strong this season and every night will be a grind, especially for teams playing on the road. UF and Hillsdale will likely duke it out for the South Division title, but Walsh and Malone certainly can't be counted out. Those two teams enjoyed good first seasons in the conference and both are talented enough to win a division crown.
The North Division will be as rugged as usual,with Michigan Tech, Grand Valley State. Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Wayne State all entering the year as legit contenders for the crown. Lake Superior State reached the conference title game a season ago after bouncing top seed WSU in the opening round.
Talent can be found up and down the league as several of the best players are back for another season.The list includes Greg Kahlig of Findlay, Isiah Elliott of Malone, Joe Graessle of Tiffin, Mike Hollingsworth of Wayne State, Derek Billing of Lake Superior State, Tim Dezelski of Hillsdale College, Wes Wilcox of Northwood and DuWaun Thomas of Ashland.
Anyone can certainly win on any given night, especially if a team fails to show up ready to play. The league title race is likely to be as tight as it was a season ago and that should make for a thrilling season from start to finish.
Below are previews of all 16 GLIAC men's basketball teams in alphabetical order:
|2013 GLIAC Men's Basketball
North Division Poll
|1||Wayne St. (10)||172||17-10
|3||Mich. Tech (5)||148||21-9|
|4||Ferris St. (3)||129||14-13|
|2013 GLIAC Men's Basketball
South Division Poll
Coach: John Ellenwood enters his fifth season as the head coach of the Eagles.
2012-13 Record: 13-12 overall, 11-11 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Eagles have three starters back as they look to make strides during the upcoming season. Ashland closed last season with a four-game win streak and nearly made the conference tournament. Leading the way this year is senior forward Will Evans, who averaged 9.4 points per game and grabbed 6.1 rebounds per outing. Junior guard DaWaun Thomas clicked for 7.4 points per outing and dished out 54 assists. He also tallied 29 steals. The other key returning player is junior guard Brook Turson, who averaged 8.4 ppg and grabbed 4.6 rebounds per outing. Junior guard Cole Krizancic could play a key role after averaging 6.8 points per outing and junior forward Paul Honigford averaged 5.2 ppg. Krizancic hit 39 3-pointers last season. If the Eagles can overcome the loss of Evan Yates, who averaged 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, they will have a shot at a winning record in league play.
Noteworthy: Turson was third on the team in 3-point shooting as he developed a nice shooting touch and hit 34 shots from beyond the arc last season.
Ferris State University
Coach: Andy Bronkema is in his first season as the head coach of the Bulldogs.
2012-13 Record: 14-13 overall, 13-9 in the GLIAC
Overview: Three starters are back for the Bulldogs, who are coming off their eighth appearance in the conference tournament in the last nine seasons. Junior guard Drew Lehman is the leading returning scorer after averaging 13.1 points per game last season.He hit 30 3-pointers and dished out 64 assists. Junior guard Dietrich Lever averaged 10.0 ppg and knocked down 27 treys. He also tallied 34 steals. The other returning starter is sophomore center Jared Stolicker, who averaged 5.6 points per outing and blocked 41 shots. Five letterwinners are also back for FSU in wing Milton Cribbs, guard Jibreel Jackson, forward Josh Fleming, win Matt Sinnaeve and forward Dan Chilcote. All five players are sophomores. Jackson averaged 4.2 points per outing and dished out 40 assists. Junior forward Matt Stoll and senior forward Raymoan McAfee should also see playing time for the Bulldogs.
Noteworthy: The Bulldogs have reached the GLIAC tournament five consecutive years and have more conference wins (42) than any other school in the North Division in the last three years.
University of Findlay
Coach: Charlie Ernst enters his third season as the head coach of the Oilers
2012-13 Record: 22-8 overall, 16-6 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Oilers are coming off back-to-back GLIAC tournament championships, winning both titles on the road, and they will go into the year with high expectations. Senior forward Greg Kahlig, a potential league player of the year candidate, will lead the Oilers after averaging 17 points per outing. He scored in double figures 26 times and hit 64 3-pointers. The other seniors are forward Mark Frilling (3.8 ppg, 21 blocks) and point guard Sean Samsel (3.5 ppg, 67 assists). Sophomore point guard Alphonso Baity returns after a freshman campaign where he averaged 5.1 points per outing and dished out 49 assists. Junior forward Jake Heagen averaged 8.7 ppg and pulled down 5.4 rebounds per game while sophomore forward Dylan Kaufman averaged 5.2 ppg and earned a spot on the GLIAC All-Tournament team last year. The Oilers have added Northern Kentucky transfer John Staley as well. Staley started 18 games for the Norse last year. Freshmen Austin Gardner and Ricardo Smith should make an immediate impact for the Oilers.
Noteworthy: The Oilers have won four of the last five conference tournament titles and were the national champions in 2009.
Grand Valley State University
Coach: Ric Wesley is entering his 10th season as the head coach of the Lakers
2012-13 Record: 19-9 overall, 15-7 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Lakers are coming off a year where they made the semifinals of the conference tournament and expectations should be high with nine returning players. Five of those players started at least one game. Junior guard Ryan Saban will lead the way, averaging 10.8 points per game a season ago. He is a solid shooter and was 88.1 percent from the free-throw line. Ricardo Carbajal, a sophomore forward, shot 55.9 percent from the field and clicked for 7.3 points per outing. Guard Rob Woodson is the lone senior and dished out 41 assists last year. Junior forwards Darius Norman and Darren Washington will be key players as well while sophomore guards Ernijs Ansons and Darren Kapustka will both vie for more playing time.
Noteworthy: Freshman Luke Ryskamp is the brother of former GVSU women's star Erika Ryskamp, who helped the Lakers win the 2006 NCAA Division II national championship.
Coach: John Tharp enters his seventh season as the head coach of the Chargers.
2012-13 Record: 17-10 overall, 13-9 in the GLIAC
Overview: With four of its top five players back, the Chargers enter the 2013-14 campaign with high expectations. Senior forward Tim Dezelski headlines the group as he is coming off a year where he averaged 16 points per game and grabbed 7.0 rebounds per outing. Dezelski nailed 38 3-pointers, tallied 36 steals and blocked 28 shots. Senior guard Brandon Pritzl averaged 11.3 ppg and ledthe team in long-distance shooting with 62 treys. Senior guard Darius Ware averaged 5.8 rebounds per game and tallied 41 assists and 21 steals. Junior guard Cody Smith also has starting experience and averaged 5.1 points per outing last season. Smith handed out 50 assists and tallied 15 steals. Senior guard Anthony Manno (6.2 ppg) and senior forward Tony Nelson (4.3 ppg) both return with experience as well and should help put the Chargers in a position to contend for the conference championship.
Noteworthy: The Chargers were one of the better defensive teams in the GLIAC last year, allowing only 63.1 points per game.
Lake Erie College
Coach: Cliff Hunt is in his ninth season as the head coach of the Storm.
2012-13 Record: 8-18 overall, 5-17 in the GLIAC
Overview: Three starters are back for a Lake Erie team that should have an opportunity for a winning season. Senior guard Riley Thomas will lead the way after averaging 12.8 points per game last season. Thomas knocked down 42 3-pointers and shot 90 percent from the free-throw line. Senior center Garick Sims and senior guard Tom Parker are also returning starters. Sims averaged 7.5 points per outing and grabbed 5.0 rebounds per game. Parker clicked for 6.5 ppg and tallied 45 steals. Lake Erie has four other players with significant experience back as well, including juior guard Trey Howard, who emerged as a scoring threat last year and averaged 5.2 ppg and while racking up 28 steals. Sophomore guard Andy Bosley, a key player off the bench, averaged 4.6 points per outing and tallied 24 steals. Senior guard Nate Tait (4.6 ppg) and sophomore forward Roy Alexander (4.0 ppg) are also back.
Noteworthy: Hunt earned his 100th win as the head coach of the Storm in an 84-76 win over Ashland in the 2011-12 season finale.
Lake Superior State University
Coach: Steve Hettinga is entering his seventh season as the head coach of the Lakers.
2012-13 Record: 16-13 overall, 11-11 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Lakers made a run all the way to the conference tournament championship game as the eighth seed a season ago. Their remarkable run would end with a 75-69 loss to the Oilers but there is every reason to believe they can make another run this season. Four starters are back for the Lakers, with the group being headlined by senior guard Derek Billing. He poured in 15.2 points per game and grabbed 3.7 rebounds per outing. Billing hit 72 3-pointers and dished out 85 assists. Junior guard Alex Williams and senior center Cameron Metz also return and their presence will make an impact. Williams clicked for 11.0 ppg last year and was a viable threat from the outside, hitting 66 treys. Metz pumped in 10.2 ppg to go along with 4.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Jordan Myrick is back after averaging 8.3 points per outing and junior center Lucas Holt, junior guard Tony Harris and sophomore forward Devin Daly will also play vital roles in the Lakers' quest to win a league title.
Noteworthy: LSSU made 191 3-pointers as a team last season, shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc as six players hit 20 or more shots from the outside.
Coach: Tim Walker enters is fifth season as the head coach of the Pioneers.
2012-13 Record: 14-12 overall, 11-11 in the GLIAC
Overview: Four starters are back for a Pioneers team that was very competitive during its first season in the conference. Leading the way will be Cory Veldhuizen, a senior forward who dropped in 11.7 points per outing and pulled down 5.7 rebounds per game. Senior guard Isiah Elliott also returns a year after earning first-team All-GLIAC honors. Elliott clicked for 19.2 points per outing and hit 36 3-pointers. Elliott also dished out 83 assists. Senior guards Che Richardson and Vince Kazmierczak are also back to fill out a veteran cast of returning players. Richardson clicked for 8.3 ppg and led the team in steals with 38. Kazmierczak averaged 6.5 ppg. Five other players are also back for Malone, including GLIAC Freshman of the Year Christian Graves. Graves pumped in 8.9 points per outing. He knocked down 65 3-pointers and tallied 27 steals.
Noteworthy: Elliott ranked fourth in the league in scoring last season and was a 45.3 percent shooter from the field.
Michigan Technological University University
Coach: Kevin Luke enters his 20th season as the head coach of the Huskies.
2012-13 Record: 21-9 overall, 16-6 in the GLIAC
Overview: Michigan Tech shared the North Division title and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last season. The Huskies lost GLIAC Player of the Year Ali Haidar but have four players with starting experience back to soften the blow. Leading the way is senior guard Austin Armga, who averaged 12.5 points per game last year. Armga dished out 47 assists as well. Junior guard Ben Stelzer also returns average averaging 12.1 points per outing and hitting 83 shots from beyond the arc. Senior guard Alex Culy is back as well after averaging 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. He hit 46 treys last year and tallied 29 steals. Junior forward Phil Romback started 23 games and averaged 6.9 points per outing while grabbing 3.7 rebounds per game. He tallied 21 steals and blocked 12 shots. Sophomore guard Jordan Chartier should play a bigger role for the Huskies this season. He averaged 2.0 ppg and hit 15 3-pointers. He also dished out 37 assists.
Noteworthy: Michigan Tech has made seven trips to the NCAA tourney and has a 6-7 record in those appearances.
Northern Michigan University
Coach: Bill Sall enters his first season as the head coach of the Wildcats
2012-13 Record: 5-21 overall, 4-18 in the GLIAC
Overview: Sall has a challenge in front of him in turning the Wildcats around. Northern Michigan has only three returning players in senior forward Michael Smith, junior guard Spencer Huss and sophomore guard Terry Nash. Smith played in 11 games last year and only averaged 2.3 points per outing. Huss saw action in 25 games and Nash appeared in four games. The rest of the team is made up of 12 newcomers and that could mean some growing pains for the Wildcats. Among the newcomers are six transfers in junior guard Ethan Blackwell, sophomore forward/center Brandon Havercamp, junior forward Chavis Mattison, junior forward/center Alex Mustert, junior forward Justin Newell and junior guard Larry Taylor. Blackwell is the lone Division I transfer as he came over from Texas Southern.
Noteworthy: Sall is the 14th coach in NMU history and won 171 games in 11 seasons at Ferris State, including leading the Bulldogs to two Sweet 16 appearances.
Coach: Jeff Rekeweg is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Timberwolves.
2012-13 Record: 13-14 overall, 12-10 in the GLIAC
Overview: Northwood should have an opportunity to improve with its top two scorers back in senior forward Wes Wilcox and junior forward/center Will Bowles. Wilcox led the Timberwolves in scoring at 14.7 points per game and was effective from beyond the arc as he hit 40 shots. Wilcox also averaged 6.1 rebounds per game and dished out 60 assists. Bowles clicked for 12.3 points per outing and pulled down 7.6 rebounds per game. Senior forward Darvin Ham also returns and is coming off a year where he averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Ham drilled 27 treys. Sophomore guard Dylan Langkabel should play a more prominent role after averaging 6.0 ppg. He knocked down 28 3-pointers last season.
Noteworthy: Rekeweg has 306 wins his college coaching career and led St. Francis out of Fort Wayne to an NAIA national championship in 2010.
Ohio Dominican University
Coach: Dan Evans enters his first season as the head coach of the Panthers.
2012-13 Record: 5-23 overall, 1-21 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Panthers have a new coach and will look to be more competitive in the conference this season. They should make strides with seven letterwinners back, including junior center Bobby Stauffer. Stauffer was the second-leading scorer last season, averaging 11.2 points per outing, and he also pulled down 6.4 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Mark Minch will also provide a big lift for the Panthers after averaging 6.6 points per outing last year. He racked up 18 steals as well.
Sophomore forward Trent Weaver averaged 6.1 points per outing and pulled down 4.4 rebounds per game while sophomore guard Chad Nelson clicked for 4.4 ppg and hit 15 3-pointers. Senior guard Brandon Carr could become a prominent scorer as well after averaging 2.2 points per outing.
Noteworthy: Evans is familiar with the GLIAC, having spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach at Hillsdale.
Saginaw Valley State University
Coach: Randy Baruth is in his second season as the head coach of the Cardinals.
2012-13 Record: 12-13 overall, 10-12 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Cardinals have a lot of work to do to improve on last season as they return just one starter and a total of four letterwinners. Sophomore guard Damon Bozeman is the leading returning scorer after averaging 7.6 points per game. He also tallied 24 steals. Sophomore guard Kellen Smith (4.5 ppg) is the only other player back who averaged at least 4 points per game. Smith dished out 101 assists and tallied 29 steals and will be counted on to play a key role in the team's success. Senior guard Michael Fugate should step up as well after taking a redshirt year last season. He averaged 8.1 points per outing and handed out 62 assists two years ago.
Noteworthy: The Cardinals won four of their final six games, including earning a win over GLIAC final four participant Michigan Tech (53-50).
Coach: Jerry Buccilla is in his first season as the head coach of the Dragons.
2012-13 Record: 11-17 overall, 8-14 in the GLIAC.
Overview: Tiffin returns eight letterwinners from last season's team and the leader of the group is senior guard Joe Graessle, a preseason Sporting News NCAA Division II All-American. He was second in the league in scoring, dropping in 24.7 points per game, and set school records in points (691) and steals (103) last year. Senior guard Mike Boan and sophomore forward Jonathan Sutherlin are also back for the Dragons. Boan averaged 8.9 points per outing and Sutherlin clicked for 4.7 ppg. Sophomore forward Khaleal McCormick averaged 11.0 points and 5.2 rebounds over the last 10 games. He averaged 6.4 ppg overall on the season. The Dragons hope to aid their quest for improvement with the addition of Division I transfers Korab Imami from Oakland and Ashton Kahn from Canisius. Freshmen Nick Ellison and Bryan Jackson will also battle for playing time.
Noteworthy: The Dragons snapped the Oilers' 81-game home conference win streak with a 57-55 victory at Croy Gymnasium last season.
Coach: Jeff Young is entering his 11th season as the head coach of the Cavaliers.
2012-13 Record: 18-8 overall, 14-8 in the GLIAC
Overview: After finishing second in the South Division a year ago, the Cavaliers, with four starters back, have their eyes on a division crown this season. Junior guard Rian Burrell will pave the way after averaging 13.2 points per outing. He shot 48.3 percent from the floor. Senior guard Brad Dupont averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while dishing out 100 assists. Junior forward Jeff Copeland and junior guard Davonte Beard will also play pivotal roles for the Cavaliers. Copeland averaged 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while Beard clicked for 8.5 points and hit 18 3-pointers. The other key returnees are sophomore guard Jesse Hardin (8.7 ppg), senior guard Ryan Vanderhorst (6.1 ppg, 44 3-pointers) and senior forward Hrvohe Vucic (5.4 ppg). The Cavaliers have a total of 11 letterwinners back.
Noteworthy: Young has won 242 games in his 10 seasons with the Cavaliers and has lost just 52 times in that span.
Wayne State University
Coach: David Greer is in his 13th season as the head coach of the Warriors.
2012-13 Record: 17-10 overall, 16-6 in the GLIAC
Overview: The Warriors won a share of the regular-season conference championship last season and played in the NCAA tournament. Wayne State should have a shot at another title with five of its top seven scorers back, including senior guard Mike Hollingsworth, who averaged 14.6 points per outing and shot 49.4 percent from the field. He also dished out 53 assists. Senior guard Chene Phillips is also back after averaging 11.5 points per outing and tallying a team-best 45 steals. Gerald Williams-Taylor clicked for 8.1 ppg and pulled down 4.9 rebounds per outing. He shot 56.3 percent from the floor. Senior forward Bryan Coleman (8.1 ppg) and senior forward Jamar Ragland (4.2 ppg) were both key players off the bench last year and Coleman has hit 67 treys in his career. Senior center Michael Martin and senior guard Deon Dismuke will help provide depth for the Warriors. Redshirt freshman center Joel Ndondo will also have an opportunity to make an impact.
Noteworthy: Greer has won 184 games in his career and is the fourth-longest tenured coach in program history.