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* The Game: The Ferris State University men’s basketball team hits the road for a pair of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) games this week. FSU visits defending NCAA-II National Champion Findlay on Thursday (Dec. 10) for a 7:30 p.m. (EST) tipoff at Croy Gymnasium followed by a tilt at Hillsdale on Saturday (Dec. 12) with tipoff at 3 p.m. (EST) inside HC’s Jesse Phillips Arena.
* Ticket Info: Tickets for both doubleheaders will be available at the door starting prior to the women’s tipoff. For more information on tickets for the Hillsdale game, please contact the HC Athletics Office directly at (517) 437-7364. The Findlay Athletics Office can be reached by dialing (419) 434-4663.
* Media Coverage: Both games will be carried live by local radio station WBRN (1460 AM & 107.7 FM) with Rob Bentley providing the play-by-play coverage. A live audio and video pay-per-view webcast via B2 Networks will also be available along with live internet statistics. Please visit FSU’s Athletics Website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com to find links for all coverage in the “upcoming events” tab.
* Follow On Twitter: Bulldog fans can follow all FSU games this year via Twitter. To access the service, please visit www.twitter.com/ferrisathletics to follow the tweet-by-tweet coverage with periodic scoring updates.
* Last Week: Ferris State opened GLIAC action with three consecutive home victories last week inside Jim Wink Arena. The Bulldogs posted decisive wins in all three contests, winning by an average of 19 points per game. FSU topped archrival and nationally-ranked Grand Valley State by a 67-41 count in Monday’s (Nov. 30) league opener before beating Ashland 82-72 on Thursday (Dec. 3) and Tiffin 82-61 on Saturday (Dec. 5). Ferris junior forward/center Justin Keenan reached double-figure scoring in all three games while both junior guard Darien Gay and senior guard Austin Randel netted two double-digit scoring efforts in the three-game stretch.
* Leading The Pack: FSU’s Justin Keenan averaged 17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 50% (12-24) from the floor and 71% (27-38) at the free throw stripe in Ferris’ three outings last week. Keenan was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer in all three contests. He tallied 15 points and seven rebounds in Ferris’ decisive 67-41 league-opening triumph over nationally-ranked archrival GVSU. Keenan then added 21 points versus Ashland followed by a 16 points, five rebounds and five assists against Tiffin.
* The Records: Ferris State (3-3, 3-0 GLIAC) has won its last three games to date this year. FSU recorded a 14-14 overall record during the 2008-09 season and placed third in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division with a 12-10 league mark.
0-2 GLIAC) is off to an 0-2 league start, but still ranked ninth
nationally last week after winning the NCAA Division II National
Championship last season with a 36-0 record.
Hillsdale (1-5, 1-1 GLIAC) finished the 2008-09 season with a 16-11 record and was second in the GLIAC South with a 14-8 conference ledger.
* The Coaches: Ferris State – Bill Sall (Calvin, 1994), 8th season, 109-111 (.495) – (1-9-0 vs. UF &???5-5-0 vs. HC). Sall was a two-time NCAA Division III All-American at Calvin College from 1985-90 and previously held assistant coaching positions at Calvin (1992-95), Ferris State (1995-98) and Hillsdale (1998-02). He served as FSU’s interim coach for a brief portion of the 1995-96 season.
Findlay – Ron Niekamp (Miami, Ohio), 25th at UF, 553-177 (.758). Niekamp has guided the Oilers to eight GLIAC South titles since 1999 and led UF to a national title last campaign while earning national Coach of the Year honors. His teams have posted 24-straight winning seasons to date. He also won 208 games as a prep coach before Findlay.
Hillsdale – John Tharp (Beloit, 1991), 3rd season at HC, 31-30-0 (.5-508), 16th year overall, 235-138 (.630). Tharp came to Hillsdale after a 13-year run at Division III Lawrence University where he led the team to a NCAA-III Elite Eight berth and number one national ranking.
* GLIAC Start: Ferris’ current 3-0 league start this year is the program’s best since winning seven-straight to open the 2005-06 campaign en route to a NCAA Division II National Tournament appearance. FSU’s best start ever came in 1988-89 when the Bulldogs finished unbeaten (16-0) in league action.
* Stellar Defense: Ferris’ 26-point victory over GVSU last Monday was its most decisive win over the Lakers since recording a 111-79 home win on Feb. 11, 1970, and the second-largest ever. Additionally, the 41 points allowed by FSU were the fewest the Lakers have ever scored versus the Bulldogs ..... The 41-point total is the fewest points allowed by Ferris against any opponent since a 40-34 home win over Oakland in the 1989-90 season (2/15/90), nearly 20 years ago. It also marked only the fifth time since 1980 the Bulldogs have limited another team to 41 points or less.
* Looking At Findlay: Findlay is off to a 3-3
overall start this year and is 0-2 in GLIAC play, but still ranked
ninth nationally after winning the NCAA Division II National
Championship last season with a 36-0 record. The Oilers claimed
their eighth GLIAC South title last season since 1999 and were
chosen as this year’s preseason favorites once again despite
losing three starters from a year ago. Head coach Ron Niekamp,
who’s in his 25th season at the helm, has led the Oilers to
NCAA Division II’s best winning percentage this decade with a
241-49 mark (.831). Senior guard Marcus Parker was chosen as this
year’s GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year and is currently
averaging a team-high 13.5 points per game. UF has won seven of the
last eight divisional crowns and four of the last six conference
tournaments to date. Findlay has lost three of its last four games
to date, including a 61-55 setback at Lake Superior State in its
most recent game (Dec. 5).
* Series Information: Findlay is presently 14-3 all-time against the Bulldogs and has won 13 of the last 14 series’ meetings. UF beat Ferris twice last season, including a 85-62 triumph in the second game (2/7/09) at Croy Gymnasium. The Oilers have claimed nine-straight wins in regular season play over the Bulldogs. FSU’s last series’ win came in the 2005-06 GLIAC Tournament Semifinals (3/3/06) by a 64-62 score in Allendale.
* Tough Place To Play: The Oilers enter Thursday’s game having won 77 consecutive regular-season games and 39-straight overall inside Croy Gymnasium. In the past seven years, the Oilers are 107-2 (.982) at home heading into Thursday’s matchup. UF’s last regular season home loss came to Gannon on February 12, 2004 in 70-68 fashion.
* Looking At Hillsdale: Hillsdale is presently 1-5 overall and 1-1 in GLIAC play. HC finished the 2008-09 season with a 16-11 record and was second in the GLIAC South with a 14-8 conference ledger. The Chargers were picked to finish second in the division again this year and are coming off their first win - a 84-76 league win at Saginaw Valley State last Saturday (Dec. 5). Sophomore guard Brent Eaton, a transfer from NCAA-I Wisconsin-Green Bay, is one of two Chargers currently scoring in double-figures at 15.0 points per game. Saturday’s game will represent HC’s home opener this year.
* Series Information: Ferris holds a 60-41 all-time series’ mark going into Saturday’s 102nd series’ meeting with Hillsdale, but has lost four-straight games to the Chargers. FSU had won five-straight series’ meetings prior to the current stretch. FSU is 5-8 in the last 13 series’ encounters versus HC, which won the most recent matchup by a 79-66 score last season (2/5/09) in Hillsdale, Mich.
* Back In Town: Two of Ferris’ coaches will return to Hillsdale for Saturday’s game after playing key roles in the Charger program prior to their arrival at FSU. Ferris head coach Bill Sall currently holds a 5-5 career heading coaching mark against Hillsdale where he served as a Charger assistant coach from 1998-02. He helped the Chargers to a 72-41 (.637) overall record and two consecutive (2001-02) NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Tourney appearances during his stint at HC where he worked under Ed Douma, who is currently midst his first season as a volunteer assistant coach for the Bulldogs. Douma served as HC’s head coach for nine years until 2007.
* FSU Picked Second: Ferris was picked to finish second in the 2009-10 GLIAC North Division Preseason Media Poll in conjunction with the league’s annual media day teleconference. The Bulldogs totaled 107 points in the balloting and picked up two first-place votes while finishing second in the North Division. Grand Valley State earned 17 of a possible 24 first-place votes and led the division with 130 points. Defending NCAA Division II National Champion Findlay earned 22 first-place votes in being selected the South Division favorite by a group of 24 media members.
* Preseason Honorees: Ferris had two of the five players named to the 2009-10 GLIAC North Division Preseason All-Conference Team as chosen by the league’s head coaches. Both Justin Keenan and Darien Gay were on the five-member team. Keenan was a first-team all-league pick last season while Gay claimed All-GLIAC North Division Second Team kudos.
* Welcome Back: Ferris welcomes back eight letterwinners this season from a year ago. Included in the total are two All-GLIAC picks in junior forward/center Justin Keenan (first team) and junior guard Darien Gay (second team).
* Last Season: FSU finished 14-14 overall and placed third (12-10) in the GLIAC North Division last season. In 2008-09, Ferris also made its 10th GLIAC Postseason Tournament appearance and fourth in the last five years. Last year represented the seventh consecutive year the Bulldogs had won 10 or more games under head coach Bill Sall after the program had not done so in the four years prior to his arrival.
* The Bulldog Roster: Ferris’ current 2009-10 roster includes three seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. Eight of the 13 players are guards while the remaining five are frontcourt players. All 13 players on the Bulldogs’ roster hail from Michigan.
* Two Make Debut: The Bulldogs have utilized only two new players in the lineup thus far, which include freshman forward Daniel Sutherlin (Detroit/Renaissance) and senior guard/forward Jon Yeazel (Middleville/Thornapple-Kellogg). Yeazel is a former Division I transfer from CMU, who redshirted at FSU last season.
* Head Coach Bill Sall: A 1994 Calvin graduate, eighth-year FSU head coach Bill Sall previously held assistant coaching positions at Calvin (1992-95), Ferris State (1995-98) and Hillsdale (1998-02) prior to being named Ferris State’s 11th head coach. Before joining the coaching ranks, Sall was a standout player at Calvin from 1985-90. He twice (1989-90) received second-team National Association of Basketball Coaches Division III All-America honors and led Calvin to three Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAA) championships, four NCAA-III Tournament bids and the 1990 NCAA-III Final Four.
* FSU History: Ferris State’s impressive basketball tradition includes 11 GLIAC titles, eight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances and a berth in the 1988 NCAA-II Elite Eight. Ferris, which last won the GLIAC Tournament championship during the 1997-98 campaign, captured a league record four consecutive conference titles from 1986-90.
* Great Run: Ferris won back-to-back GLIAC North Division crowns under Bill Sall in 2003-04 and 2004-05 while reaching the NCAA-II Tournament in both 2004-05 and 2005-06. FSU advanced to the NCAA-II “Sweet Sixteen” during the 2004-05 season, which was Sall’s third season at the helm.
* Turnaround Time: The Bulldogs had posted only a 21-82 (.204) mark in the four seasons prior to head coach Bill Sall's arrival, but have since went 104-103 (.502) and claimed two divisional titles while making two NCAA-II Tournament appearances in his seven previous seasons at the helm. FSU won only four games (4-22) the year before Sall arrived in 2001-02.
* Career Milestones: FSU’s Darien Gay notched his 550th career point against GVSU and is only 16 away from scoring his 600th point. He also climbed into 10th place on the school’s career assists list versus Tiffin by notching his 251st assist to move past former standout Carlton Epps ....... Junior forward Lou Williams scored his 300th career point versus Ashland. He presently has 71 career blocked shots to date and needs only one more to move into fourth place on the school’s all-time chart .... Senior guard Josh Young needs 53 points to garner his 500th career point ....... Sophomore guard Dontae Molden is seven points shy of scoring his 200th point at FSU.
* Tiffin & Ashland Notes: Ashland’s loss at FSU was its fourth-straight series’ setback inside Wink Arena. AU has not defeated the Bulldogs in Big Rapids since the 2001-02 campaign ....... FSU scored 82 points versus both Ashland and Tiffin in the two games .......... The Bulldogs tallied 26 assists against Tiffin ..... The win over TU was Ferris’ fourth-straight series’ win.
* Good Exhibition Mark: With two exhibition wins this season, the Bulldogs have now claimed a victory in four of their last five preseason tilts going back ot last year. FSU had won three consecutive exhibition games prior to the loss at Dayton. Last year, the Bulldogs defeated Cornerstone 74-73 (10/30/08) and Calvin 80-66 (11/11/08) in home exhibition games at FSU’s Jim Wink Arena with the third victory coming in this year’s exhibition opener against Aquinas (10/29) at Greenville High School and the fourth in this year’s triumph at Calvin (11/10/09).
* Coming Up Next: The Bulldogs will be idle after this weekend’s play until Dec. 29-30 when they return to the floor in the Porreco Cup hosted by Gannon University in Erie, Pa. FSU will face Taylor (Ind.) in the opener on Dec. 29 at 6 p.m. (EST) with the event’s consolation/championship games set for Dec. 30 at 6/8 p.m. Host Gannon and Seton Hill (Pa.) are also in the field. FSU last took part in the Porreco Cup during the 2003-04 season and dropped two games to Cheyney (Pa.) and Glenville State (W.Va.) before rebounding to win the GLIAC North Division title that season.
* Statistics Notes: Ferris ranked 256th last season out of 270 NCAA Division II teams listed in fouls per game as the Bulldogs averaged 22.2 personal fouls per contest. Presently this year, FSU is averaging 19.1 fouls per game .......... FSU’s Justin Keenan concluded the 2008-09 season ranked 24th nationally in scoring (20.2 ppg.) at the NCAA Division II level.
* Facing The Top: Ferris will square off this week against the top two teams picked in this year’s GLIAC South Division Preseason Poll. Findlay was selected to win the division again this year with Hillsdale coming in second in the voting by media members. The order was the same as last year’s division finish with the Chargers placing second behind the Oilers at the end of last season.
* Opponent History: Ferris’ Justin Keenan has averaged 18.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in three previous career games against Findlay. However, junior guard Darien Gay has been limited to only 4.3 points in the same span versus the Oilers ..... Keenan has averaged 13.3 points and 6.0 boards in four meetings against Hillsdale over the last two years.
* One Of Three: After only one week of conference play, the Bulldogs are one of only three teams without a league loss and the only team with a 3-0 mark going into the week. Wayne State (2-0) and Lake Superior State (2-0) are also undefeated in conference action to date.
* Preseason All-American: Ferris State junior center Justin Keenan has been named a NCAA Division II Preseason All-America selection by three different sources, including being tabbed to the Division II Bulletin “Super 16” Preseason squad. He also claimed acclaim from both The Sporting News and Basketball Times. Keenan was honored last season as a National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II All-Midwest District Second Team pick along with a Daktronics All-Midwest Region Second Team and All-GLIAC North Division First Team selection.
* 1,000 Point Scorer: FSU’s Justin Keenan was honored prior to last Monday’s game versus GVSU for becoming the 26th player in school history to notch his 1,000th career point in the season opener at Lewis (Nov. 15). He also grabbed his 400th career board in the same game and presently owns career totals of 1,089 points along with 425 rebounds in 61 outings.
* B2 Video Webcasts: A live broadband video and audio webcast will be available via B2 Networks for all of FSU’s home games and selected road contests this season. The cost is $7 per game and includes live video along with a radio audio feed. To access the service or obtain more info, please visit the FSU Athletics Website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com.
* Live Internet Stats: “Live Stats” of all 2009-10 Ferris State home games will be provided in progress via the internet. Visit the site at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com and click the “Live Stats” icon to access.
* GLIAC Games On Air: All 22 of FSU’s 2009-10 league games are tentatively slated to be carried live by local radio station WBRN (News Talk 1460 AM or 107.7 FM). FSU Associate Athletics Communications Director Rob Bentley will once again call the play-by-play action on the road while Jason DaDay will be the on-air talent for home games. The audio from road contests can also be accessed live via the internet by clicking on the Bulldog Athletics Webcasts icon at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com.
* On The Internet: Ferris State University Athletics’ official web site can be found at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com. The site features information on all FSU varsity programs including rosters, stats and more.