By Sandy Gholston, Special Writer for the GLIAC
BAY CITY, Mich. – Teams should not expect any easy nights in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) men's basketball competition this season – in the North or South divisions.
Findlay and Hillsdale have battled for South Division supremacy in recent years and appear destined to battle it out again for the top spot. In the North Division, the race should be competitive with the addition of Wayne State to the trio of Ferris State, Michigan Tech, and Northwood that tied for the Division title last season.
The GLIAC features no shortage of top individual talent returning, including Ali Haidar of Michigan Technological University, the 2011-12 GLIAC Player of the Year. Haidar was named to D-II Bulletin's Preseason Super 16 Team. Kenny Brown, a senior guard from Ferris; Evan Yates, a senior forward from Ashland; Derek Billing, a junior guard from Lake Superior State; Joe Graessle, a junior from Tiffin; Cameron Joyce, a junior from Northwood; Greg Kahlig, a junior from Findlay; Ronnie Steward, a junior from Ashland; Daniel Sutherlin, a senior from Ferris; and Chris Webb, a senior from Saginaw Valley State, are among the talented returning players who earned All-GLIAC honors last season.
The aforementioned players will set the tone in what should be a great race for the top team spots in the GLIAC.
Below are previews of all 16 GLIAC men's basketball teams in alphabetical order:
|2012 GLIAC Men's Basketball
North Division Poll
|1||Mich. Tech (8)||157||16-12
|2||Wayne St. (9)
|3||Ferris St. (4)
|2012 GLIAC Men's Basketball
South Division Poll
Overview: The Eagles have a lot of talent returning on the hardwood this season led by 6-foot-6 forward Evan Yates, a first-team All-GLIAC performer, 6-foot-6 junior forward Will Evans and 5-foot-11 senior guard Ronnie Steward, an All-GLIAC Second Team pick last season. That trio should provide strong leadership and play on the court this winter for Ashland. Yates averaged 20.8 points, Steward 13.1 points and Evans 10.8 last season. Yates, who was a second-team member of the Daktronics All-America team, was strong on the boards for Ashland as he averaged 11.3 rebounds and Evans averaged 6.3. The Eagles are coming off of an up-and-down season as they finished one game above .500 in GLIAC play and 15-12 overall.
Coaching: John Ellenwood is entering his fourth season as the head men's basketball coach at AU.
Noteworthy: Ellenwood was part of the 2012 College of Wooster Hall of Fame class.
2011-12 Record: 15-12 overall, 10-9 GLIAC
Ferris State University
Overview: The Bulldogs have a strong group of returners back after finishing as regular-season champions of the GLIAC North Division during the 2011-12 season. Senior guard Kenny Brown, a first-team All-GLIAC performer last season, is back to lead the Bulldogs this upcoming season. Brown, who averaged 16.9 points last season, is joined by senior forward Daniel Sutherlin, who averaged 12.3 points last season en route to earning All-GLIAC Second Team honors. Sutherlin averaged eight rebounds per game last season. Drew Lehman and Dietrich Lever, both of whom gained valuable experience last season, are back as sophomores. Ferris put together a strong recruiting class that includes transfers Bryant Orange, Matt Stoll and Raymoan McAfee. Trent Messer and Dan Chilcote are back with experience to their credit and Jared Stolicker, at 6-foot-10, will debut after redshirting last season.
Coaching: Bill Sall enters his 11th season as the head men's basketball coach at Ferris.
Noteworthy: Sall is being assisted this season by Andy Bronkema, Bill Killian and Jim Lake.
2011-12 Record: 16-11 overall, 13-7 GLIAC
University of Findlay
Overview: Following a banner 2011-12 season during which the Oilers finished 24-7, including a GLIAC Tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance, Findlay is hungry for more success this winter. UF has 12 returning players with hardwood college experience led by junior forward Greg Kahlig, who averaged 12.6 points and 4.5 rebounds, and senior forward Brad Piehl, who averaged 9.6 points and 2.8 rebounds as a junior. Kahlig earned All-GLIAC Second Team recognition last season. Senior guard Aaron Robinson, a 2011-12 GLIAC All-Defensive Team selection, is back as a returning starter along with sophomore forward Jack Heagen. Senior forward Jack Smith and junior forward Sean Samsel will be among the experienced returners vying for spots in the starting lineup.
Coaching: Charlie Ernst is entering his second season as the head men's basketball coach at the University of Findlay.
Noteworthy: The Oilers have won nine out of the last 11 GLIAC South Division titles and have won the conference tournament championship in six of the last nine years.
2011-12 Record: 24-7 overall, 14-5 GLIAC
Grand Valley State University
Overview: The Grand Valley men's basketball team has some big shoes to fill with the loss of its two leading scorers from last season, big man Nick Waddell and All-GLIAC shooting guard James Thomas. The Lakers do have strong leadership returning led by senior point guard Breland Hogan, who averaged 9.9 points and ranked fifth in the GLIAC in assist-to-turnover ratio. Hogan also handed out 89 assists. Ryan Sabin, a sophomore guard, is back after averaging 7.4 points last season. Senior forward Tyrone Lee, who emerged as a top defensive player and a GLIAC All-Defensive Team selection, is back. Lee blocked 23 shots and had 18 steals. Senior forward Tony Peters and sophomore forward Darius Norman are back for the Lakers. On the newcomer front, Ryan Majerle joins the team after transferring from the University of Toledo. Ricardo Carbajal, a transfer from Quincy; and Kristers Zeidaks, a transfer from Mississippi State, add depth.
Coaching: Ric Wesley is entering his ninth season as the head men's basketball coach at Grand Valley State University.
Noteworthy: Senior leader Breland Hogan has started 61 of 85 games during his GVSU career, including all 27 during his junior year.
2011-12 Record: 14-13 overall, 10-9 GLIAC
Overview: With a veteran team last season, Hillsdale College remained at the top of the hill in the GLIAC standings during the 2011-12 campaign at 16-3. The Chargers, who finished with the best league record in the regular season, have some big shoes to fill this winter as a young squad prepares to go to work against some top-notch NCAA Division II competition. The lone seniors on the team this year are 6-foot-10 center Nick Washburn, who averaged 10.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season, and 6-6 forward Ryan Choiniere. Last season, Hillsdale put together a season to remember as it finished 24-5 overall and 16-3 in the GLIAC. Tim Dezelski, a 6-6 junior, averaged nine points and five rebounds for the Chargers. Brandon Pritzl, a junior guard, averaged 8.2 points and 3.5 rebounds a year ago.
Coaching: John Tharp is entering his sixth season as the head men's basketball coach at Hillsdale College.
Noteworthy: Point guard Zach Miller, an NCAA Division I transfer from Northern Illinois University, has joined the program.
2011-12 Record: 24-6 overall, 16-3 GLIAC
Lake Erie College
Overview: Lake Erie is hoping a fresh start his season will lead to an improvement in the standings for the men's hardwood squad. The Storm welcome back three starters from last season in 6-7 junior forward Rich Austin, who averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds; junior guard Riley Thomas, a 5-11 junior guard who averaged 10.3 points and dished out 68 assists; and junior guard Tom Parker, who averaged 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds for LEC during the 2011-12 campaign. Other returners include Garrick Sims, who missed the 2011-12 season due to an injury, but averaged eight points and 6.6 rebounds in his last season of hardwood action. The team has six newcomers joining a roster that includes 11 returners and four players back with starting experience.
Coaching: Cliff Hunt has a record of 100-89 in eight seasons as the head men's basketball coach at Lake Erie College.
Noteworthy: The non-conference schedule for the Storm includes games against traditional rival Notre Dame College, Point Park University, Slippery Rock University, and Salem International University. LEC also plays an exhibition game at Division I Bowling Green State University to open the season on Friday, Nov. 9.
2011-12 Record: 10-16 overall, 5-14 GLIAC
Lake Superior State University
Overview: The 2012-13 Lakers welcome back veteran leadership on the hardwood led by senior forward Derek Kinney and junior guard Derek Billing, a second-team All-GLIAC choice in 2011-12, for head coach Steve Hettinga. Last season, Billing was the team's leading scorer as he averaged 17 points and 3.7 assists for the Lakers while Kinney averaged 11.7 points and 6.9 rebounds for Hettinga's squad. Alex Williams, a 6-6 sophomore guard, showed some of his potential last season as he averaged 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds during his freshman season on the hardwood.
Coaching: Steve Hettinga is entering his sixth season as the head men's basketball coach at Lake Superior State University.
Noteworthy: Kinney and Billing were named to the GLIAC All-Academic Team in recognition of maintaining a GPA of 3.0 to 3.49.
2011-12 Record: 11-15 overall, 6-13 GLIAC
Overview: Malone begins its first men's basketball season in the GLIAC with some firepower returning in its lineup from last season. Junior guard Isiah Elliott and junior forward Cory Veldhuizen are back as top scorers in the Pioneers' rotation. Elliott was the team's second-leading scorer last season as he averaged 13.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. He also finished tops on the team with 115 assists to just 61 turnovers as he played in and started all 27 games for Malone. Veldhuizen averaged 13 points and 5.2 rebounds as he also connected on 42 percent of his shots from outside of the 3-point line. Che Richardson, a junior guard, and Zach Bates, a 6-7 senior forward, are back and hungry to contribute to the team's offensive and defensive efforts. Richardson averaged 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while Bates averaged 8.9 points and shot a solid 54 percent from the floor.
Coaching: Tim Walker enters his fourth season as the head men's basketball coach at Malone University.
Noteworthy: On November 15, Malone traveled to the University of Findlay's Croy Gymnasium, one of the toughest venues in all of NCAA Division II basketball, and ended the Oilers' 105-game regular-season home winning streak with a 74-71 win.
2011-12 Record: 12-15 overall, N/A GLIAC
Michigan Technological University
Overview: The Michigan Tech men's basketball team is looking to repeat as GLIAC North Division champions in 2012-13, and it has the fire power to back it up. The Huskies return nine players from last years squad, including three starters. Forward Ali Haidar will lead the team after garnering GLIAC "Player of the Year" accolades after ranking 38th in the nation in scoring with 19.1 points per game. The Windsor, Ont., native averaged 9.4 rebounds per game, 19th best in the nation, and finished with 14 double-doubles, 10th most in the league. Junior Alex Culy, a GLIAC All-Defensive Team selection last season, will handle the point guard duties for the Huskies again after starting all 27 games. The Rice Lake, Wis., native averaged 8.8 points per game, including 57 3-pointers, most on the team. Sophomore Ben Stelzer is back for the Huskies. Last season he started 25 games and averaged 7.3 points and led the team in assists, 66, and steals, 21. Sophomore Phil Romback, senior T.J. Brown, and sophomore Troy Hecht will be competing for spots in the rotation. Austin Armga, provides additional backcourt help for Tech. He shot a team-best 54 percent from outside the 3-point line. Seniors Matt Esters and Anthony Katona along with freshman Jordan Chartier will compete for playing time.
Coaching: Kevin Luke is entering his 18th season as the head men's basketball coach at Michigan Tech University.
Noteworthy: Luke has been named GLIAC "Coach of the Year" four times (1994-95, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2002-03). He owns an impressive 300-189 overall record, including a 188-132 mark in conference play. His winning percentage of .594 ranks as the best in Husky hoop annals.
2011-12 Record: 16-12 overall, 13-6 GLIAC
Northern Michigan University
Overview: Northern Michigan comes into the season seeking to replace a lot of offensive firepower lost from the team's 2011-12 squad. Gone are DeAndre Taylor and Jared Benson, two of the team's three top scorers and Haki Stampley will take a redshirt year after averaging 14 points per game as a freshman. Perhaps waiting to emerge, however, are veteran returnees Matthew Craggs, 6-6 junior forward; T.J. Cameron, a 6-3 senior guard; Quinten Calloway, a 5-11 sophomore guard; and Kendall Jackson, a 6-5 sophomore guard. Craggs averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds last season and is the team's top returning scorer. Cameron averaged seven points and Calloway averaged 6.9 per contest in the scoring column. NMU has added some transfers to its roster, including 6-7 Scooter Johnson, from Kent State, 6-5 Jeron Lee, from Lewis University, and 6-7 Michael Smith, from Grand Rapids Community College. This group will work to help NMU improve upon last year's 9-17 record, including 5-14 in the GLIAC North Division.
Coaching: Doug Lewis enters his third season as the head men's basketball coach at Northern Michigan University.
Noteworthy: Coach Lewis played at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University) from 1987 through 1989 as the Bears won the Mid-Continent Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division I Tournament in back-to-back years. In 1988, Lewis was the Mid-Continent Conference Newcomer of the Year. He was an honorable mention all-conference pick in 1989.
2011-12 Record: 9-17 overall, 5-14 GLIAC
Overview: Mentored by the 2011-12 GLIAC "Coach of the Year" in Jeff Rekeweg, Northwood enjoyed a strong season on the hardwood in men's basketball with an 18-win season. In spite of suffering losses of key talent from last year's roster, Northwood is back with an experienced group of talented veterans along with promising newcomers eager to make their mark this season. Senior guard Andrew VanDierenDonck is among the top returners for NU after averaging 9.3 points a year ago. He will be joined by veterans Wes Wilcox, a 6-8 senior forward who averaged 9.3 points and shot 51.4 percent from the floor; Darvin Ham, a 6-6 junior forward who averaged 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds, Cameron Joyce, a senior guard who averaged 6.9 points; and Booker Stoudmire, who averaged eight points and is a senior guard as well. Joyce earned All-GLIAC Second Team honors last season.
Coaching: Jeff Rekeweg enters his third season as the head men's basketball coach at Northwood University.
Noteworthy: Coach Rekeweg led Northwood to a GLIAC North Division championship during the 2011-12 season to cap an eight-game, one-season improvement. NU tied a school record for most Division II wins in a season, with 16, and set a new school record by recording an eight-game winning streak late in the year.
2011-12 Record: 18-9 overall, 13-6 GLIAC
Ohio Dominican University
Overview: Entering the 2012-13 season, Ohio Dominican welcomes back two starters from a year ago in standout guard Morgan Jones, a 5-9 senior, and 6-8 senior forward John Trew. Jones could again be the focal point of the ODU offense as the team's leading returning scorer. As a junior, Jones averaged 12.7 points and totaled a team-best 67 assists as he started in 24 of the team's 26 games. The Panthers have seven returning letterwinners with eight players lost from the previous year's roster. Artie Taylor, head coach of the ODU program, welcomes seven incoming freshmen or transfers this season as the Panthers gear up for another tough GLIAC and non-GLIAC schedule.
Coaching: Artie Taylor is entering his sixth year as the head men's basketball coach at Ohio Dominican University.
Noteworthy: Coach Taylor graduated from John Carroll University in 1998. He played college basketball for the Blue Streaks. He was a three-year starter and was named the team's most valuable player his senior season when he helped lead JCU to an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He was inducted into the John Carroll Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.
2011-12 Record: 4-22 overall, 1-18 GLIAC
Saginaw Valley State University
Overview: It's a new year and a fresh look on the bench for the Saginaw Valley men's basketball program under first-year head coach Randy Baruth. Baruth's coaching staff welcomes back SVSU players who gained experience in leading the Cardinals last season. Among the returning leaders for Saginaw Valley are 2011-12 All-GLIAC Second Team senior guard Chris Webb, senior guard Michael Fugate, senior guard Brett Beland and junior forward Jay Thames. Webb was the team's leading scorer last season as he averaged 14.2 points. Fugate averaged 8.1 points and connected on 42.1 percent of his shots from outside of the 3-point arc. Beland averaged 7.9 points last season while Thames averaged 3.5 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Coaching: Randy Baruth is entering his first year as the head men's basketball coach at Saginaw Valley State University.
Noteworthy: Baruth spent the last season at the University of Utah as the Director of Player Development under head coach, and former NBA player and coach, Larry Krystkowiak. Before his stint with the Utes, he was the Director of Basketball Operations at Colorado State University under then head coach Tim Miles. Baruth is very familiar with NCAA Division II basketball, spending 7 years as an assistant at Northern State University and North Dakota State University.
2011-12 Record: 10-16 overall, 6-13 GLIAC
Overview: The Tiffin University men's basketball team started and closed the 2011-12 season with a bang. The Dragons won four of their first five games, hit a rough spot and closed with five wins in the final six contests. Included in that stretch run were wins over Findlay and #24 Hillsdale, the first victories over those schools in over 20 years. Tiffin won the GCI Alaska Invitational en-route to finishing 15-14, its first winning season in six years. The Dragons will have a different look for 2012-13. They lose only five players. However, those five were among the top six on the team in minutes played and included four starters. Among the losses for TU was Karl Finley, an All-GLIAC First Team selection and GLIAC "Freshman of the Year," Iman Johnson.
Junior Joe Graessle is the lone starter back. Graessle averaged 17.9 points, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals a game while hitting 3.1 triples a game. Graessle set the school record with 91 3-pointers made and 252 treys attempted and finished 12th in the country in three's made per game. He was an All-GLIAC second team selection last season. Sophomores Michael Bouley and Sarwan Khan, both returning letterwinners, have good size at 6'7" and 6'9", respectively. Junior Keith Mackie drew four starts and saw his fair share of action. Another pair of sophomores, Mike Brown and Andrew Bendolph, bring experience to the backcourt.
Coaching: John Hill is entering his fourth season as the head men's basketball coach at Tiffin University.
Noteworthy: Among the 10 newcomers, Mike Boan, a transfer from NCAA Division I Wright State, is expected to make an immediate impact. The Dragons also look for contributions from freshmen Mohamed Rage, Khaleal McCormick, Eric Roby and Jonathan Sutherlin.
2011-12 Record: 15-14 overall, 7-12 GLIAC
Overview: As Walsh prepares to embark on its first season of GLIAC men's basketball competition, the Cavaliers will do so without a pair of 1,000-point scorers from a year ago in Ron Kinney and L.J. Sutton. That is the challenging news. The positive news is that the program returns some talented players looking for breakthrough seasons as they will now have the opportunity to shine. Starters Brad DuPont, a junior point guard; Rian Burrell, at small forward; and Kenny Kornowski, a 6-9 post, return as key leaders. DuPont led the team in assists at 7.5 per game while Burrell returns off a strong freshman season during which he averaged 13.9 points per game. Kornowski is looking to bounce back from injury. He was averaging 18.6 points and 8.8 rebounds last season before he suffered a season-ending injury. Walsh has some transfers coming in, including Davonte Beard, from Division I Siena College (N.Y.). Beard is expected to start at shooting guard. Hrvoje Vucic, at 7-1, is the tallest player in Walsh program history. He should strengthen the team's front line.
Coaching: Jeff Young is entering his 10th season as the head men's basketball coach at Walsh University and has a record of 224-44.
Noteworthy: Walsh enjoyed an impressive record of 11-1 at home last season. The team has won 59 of its last 60 at home.
2011-12 Record: 26-5 overall, N/A GLIAC
Wayne State University
Overview: The bulk of Wayne State's roster this season is in its junior and senior classes with seven and two, respectively, in those groups. Still, led by junior guard Mike Hollingsworth, senior forward Ian Larkin and junior forward Bryan Coleman, the Warriors welcome back some offensive firepower to complement the strong defensive mindset that typically defines teams coached by David Greer and his staff. Hollingsworth enjoyed a banner 2011-12 season as he averaged a team-best 17.2 points, but had his season shortened due to injury. He also pulled down four rebounds a game. Larkin also returns to the lineup after averaging 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds and Bryan Coleman returns after playing 16 games and averaging 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds. The Warriors return six players with starting experience from previous years and two starters from a team that finished tied for second in the GLIAC South Division. Wayne has added a solid recruiting class that includes a pair of transfers from Alcorn State, Michael Martin and Jamal Ragland.
Coaching: David Greer is entering his 12th season as the head men's basketball coach at Wayne State University.
Noteworthy: As a program, Wayne State has made a total of 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in its long history – the first coming in 1956.
2011-12 Record: 18-9 overall, 14-5 GLIAC