December 16, 2010

Men's BB Game Notes: MTU/NMU (Dec. 18-19)

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* The Game:
The Ferris State men's basketball team travels to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a pair of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) games on back-to-back days this weekend.  The Bulldogs first visit Michigan Tech on Saturday (Dec. 18) in Houghton before heading to Marquette to face Northern Michigan on Sunday (Dec. 19).  Both contests tipoff at 1 p.m. (ET).

* Ticket Info: Tickets for both doubleheaders will be available at the door. Additional ticket information along with travel directions for this week's games can be obtained by directly contacting the MTU and NMU Athletics Departments, respectively. Michigan Tech's main office number is (906) 487-3070 while NMU can be reached by dialing (906) 227-2105.

* Time Change: The men will hit the floor first for both games as part of the league's new scheduling format with the men playing before the women in all conference doubleheaders this campaign.

* Media Coverage: Both games will be carried live via the internet with a live FSU audio broadcast on Ustream.  MTU will offer its own live pay-per-view audio & video webcast on Saturday with Sunday's game at NMU slated for a live pay-per-view video webcast by America One (formerly B2 Networks).  All links will be available at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com (click on the "upcoming events" scoreboard tab or the team schedule page).

* Follow On Twitter/Facebook: In addition to radio and internet coverage, Bulldog fans can follow all FSU games this year via Twitter & Facebook. To access the feed, please visit www.twitter.com/ferrisathletics or www.facebook.com/ferrisathletics to follow the tweet-by-tweet social media coverage with periodic scoring updates.

* Last Week: Ferris improved to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the GLIAC by splitting a pair of conference games last week.  The Bulldogs dropped a 83-76 decision at nationally 17th-ranked and unbeaten Hillsdale on Tuesday (Dec. 7) despite leading by 18 points in the final half.  FSU then rebounded for a 76-65 league home win over Northwood on Saturday (Dec. 11).

* Welcome Back: FSU swept both MTU and NMU in the Upper Peninsula in 2008-09 for only the second time in 20 years before earning a split on the trip last year. FSU accomplished the feat while clinching a second-straight GLIAC North Championship in 2004-05, but prior to that had not done so since the 1988-89 campaign.  Ferris almost pulled off the sweep for the second-straight year last season, but MTU rallied back from a 17-point second half deficit to beat FSU 70-67 (2/11/10) before the Bulldogs responded with a 90-76 triumph at NMU (2/13/10).

* The Records: Ferris State (6-3, 3-1 GLIAC) won 10 of its last 16 games overall last season en route to a 16-13 overall mark and reached the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament semifinals.  Ferris placed second (13-9) in GLIAC North Division play.  FSU previously recorded a 14-14 overall record in 2008-09.
   
Michigan Tech (8-1, 3-0 GLIAC) recorded a 9-18 record a season ago and posted a 8-14 mark in the GLIAC.  They were picked to finish fifth in the GLIAC North this season.
   
Northern Michigan (5-3, 0-1 GLIAC) recorded a 11-15 mark a season ago and was 8-14 in league play under former longtime head coach Dean Ellis.  NMU hosts Grand Valley State on Saturday (Dec. 18).

* The Coaches: Ferris State  – Bill Sall (Calvin, 1994), 9th season, 128-124 (.508) – (8-8-0 vs. MTU, 15-3-0 vs. NMU).  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.
   
Michigan Tech – Kevin Luke, 17th season at MTU. Luke has led the Huskies to four GLIAC titles, five NCAA Division II Tournament berths and his teams have won an average of nearly 19 games per season. He was the Basketball Times National Coach of the Year in 2002-03.
   
Northern Michigan – Doug Lewis, 1st season at NMU.  Lewis took over the NMU program after guiding independent Central State (Ohio) to the NCAA-II Tournament a season ago. He served as the Marauders' head coach for seven years. The former Southwest Missouri State player won 125 games and had five winning campaigns at CSU.

* Good Week: FSU senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) averaged 25 points per game in two outings last week.  The 5-10 Gay netted a team-best 27 points, including 17 in the opening half of a narrow 83-76 decision at nationally 17th-ranked and unbeaten Hillsdale last Tuesday (Dec. 7).  He then totaled a game-high 23 points with seven rebounds and three assists in FSU's 76-65 league home win over Northwood on Saturday (Dec. 11) at Wink Arena.  For the two games, Gay registered a combined total of 50 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals as FSU improved to 6-3 overall.

* Coming Up Next: The Bulldogs will play two non-league games over the holiday break before resuming league play at home versus Lake Sueprior State on Jan. 6.  FSU visits Wisconsin-Parkside on Wednesday, Dec. 29, and then takes on NCAA-I Eastern Michigan on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

* Preseason National Player of The Year: A returning consensus NCAA-II All-American, Ferris senior center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) was tabbed as the Division II Bulletin Preseason National Player of the Year for the 2010-11 campaign. The two-time All-GLIAC First Team honoree was the 2009-10 GLIAC Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring for the second consecutive campaign a year ago. A three-time team MVP, Keenan has reached double-figure scoring in 88 of 93 career outings. He's also tallied 10 points or more in 65 of his last 67 games.

* Possible Breakthrough: The Bulldogs were listed as one of the nation's possible breakthrough teams for the 2010-11 campaign in The Sporting News Division II Preseason Top 10 poll.

* Last Season: FSU concluded the 2009-10 men's basketball campaign with a 16-13 overall record and the Bulldogs placed tied for second (13-9) in GLIAC North Division play. Additionally, FSU made its 11th GLIAC Tournament appearance last campaign, which was the program's fifth berth in the last six years.

* GLIAC Player of the Week: FSU's Justin Keenan was named the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week on Nov. 23 after averaging 25 points and 12.5 rebounds in two key regional home victories over St. Joseph's (Nov. 15) and Lewis (Nov. 20).  Keenan made 16-of-27 (.593) field goal tries and was 18-of-23 (.783) in free throws in the stretch.

* Looking At Michigan Tech: Michigan Tech is currently off to a 8-1 start and is 3-0 in league play.  The Huskies recorded a 9-18 record a season ago and posted a 8-14 mark in the GLIAC.  They were picked to finish fifth in the GLIAC North this season under 17th-year head coach Kevin Luke.  Currently, they've won their last four games, including a 77-74 league road win at Tiffin last Saturday (Dec. 11). Junior forward Mike Hojnacki is scoring a team-high 19.1 points per game to date and leads four Huskies in double-digits.

* Looking At Northern Michigan: First-year head coach Doug Lewis has the Wildcats off to a 5-3 record and an 0-1 GLIAC mark heading into Saturday's (Dec. 18) home game versus Grand Valley State.  NMU recorded a 11-15 mark a season ago and was 8-14 in league play under former longtime head coach Dean Ellis. The Wildcats have won their two most recent games and beat Finlandia 102-74 at home on Tuesday (Dec. 14).  Junior center Jared Benson is scoring 18.6 points per contest.

* Series History vs. MTU: The Bulldogs trail MTU 53-51 all-time although FSU has won eight of the last 13 games heading into Saturday's 105th series' meeting. FSU holds a 8-8 all-time mark versus MTU under Bill Sall and split two meetings with the Huskies during the 2009-10 season. FSU posted an initial 67-63 league home win over MTU (1/30/10) in Big Rapids before falling by a 70-67 count (2/13/10) in Houghton. Ferris has won twice in its last three trips to Houghton to date.  Last year, the Bulldogs led by 17 points in the second half before the Huskies rallied at the SDC Gymnasium.

* Series History vs. NMU: Ferris holds a 50-64 all-time series' record to date against NMU. The Bulldogs, though, have claimed 15 of the last 18 series' contests, including two a season ago – 82-75 in Big Rapids (1/28/10) and 90-76 in Marquette (2/13/10). FSU head coach Bill Sall is presently 15-3 against Northern Michigan in his coaching career.

* Leading The Way: Ferris welcomes back seven letterwinners this season from a year ago. Included in the total are two returning all-conference picks in senior forward/center Justin Keenan and senior guard Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford). They helped form one of the nation's youngest teams as part of a nine-member freshmen class three years ago.

* FSU Picked Second: Ferris was picked to finish second in the 2010-11 GLIAC North Division Preseason Media Poll in conjunction with the launch of the league's media day website.  The Bulldogs totaled 128 points in the balloting and picked up two first-place votes while finishing second in the North Division. FSU rival Grand Valley State earned 22 of a possible 25 first-place votes and led the division with 172 points. Findlay, which won the 2008-09 NCAA-II National Championship, claimed 23 first-place votes and 173 points as the South Division favorite.

* Preseason Honorees: Ferris had two players named to the 2010-11 GLIAC North Division Preseason All-Conference Teams as chosen by the league's head coaches.  Justin Keenan was chosen as a preseason first-team pick with Darien Gay on the five-member second team.  Keenan was also tabbed as the GLIAC's Preseason Player of the Year after winning the conference's top individual honor a year ago.

* Interesting Note: Last year represented the eighth 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 2010-11 roster includes four seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. Six of the 14 players are primarily guards while the remaining eight are frontcourt players. All 14 players on the Bulldogs' roster hail from Michigan.

* Head Coach Bill Sall: A 1994 Calvin graduate, ninth-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 123-115 (.517) and claimed two divisional titles while making two NCAA-II Tourney appearances in his eight previous seasons. FSU won only four games (4-22) the year before Sall arrived in 2001-02.

* FSU Notebook: Senior forward Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights) has tied former Bulldog Terrance Shaw (2003-07) for second place on the school's all-time blocked shots list with 116 total.  He now trails only Adam Anderson's (1998-03) school-record of 142 swats ...... Saturday's victory versus Northwood represented FSU's 50th all-time win over the Timberwolves as FSU now holds a 50-24 series' advantage.  FSU's Bill Sall recorded his 11th win over NU in 18 meetings ..... Junior guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) has 259 career assists to date and is four shy of tying Lewis Garner (1972-75) for 10th most all-time at FSU.

* Bulldog Bites: FSU senior forward/center Justin Keenan currently ranks sixth on the school's career scoring chart with 1,757 career points to date.  He needs 82 more to tie Bernie Kilpatrick (1961-65) for fifth place ........ Senior guard Darien Gay ranks fifth on the school's career list with 351 assists. He also ranks ninth all-time with 119 steals at FSU ....... Darien Gay is 43 points away from notching his 1,000th career point. His 42.8% career three-pointing shooting figure is tied for third-best in FSU history while his 154 career three-pointers is fifth most in school annals ..... Senior guard Matt DeHart (Greenville) tallied his 400th career point in the win over Northwood .......The Bulldogs were listed 24th nationally in the NABC Division II Poll on Nov. 23 before dropping out after two losses at the Owensboro Classic (Nov. 26-27).

* Conference Record Book: The 465 points scored by FSU's Justin Keenan in conference regular-season games last season was only six away from matching the league's all-time seasonal record of 471 points recorded by Saginaw Valley State's Michael Williams in 1993-94. Additionally, Keenan's 176 free throws made and 253 attempts in league games topped the previous conference single-season records of 132 makes and 196 attempts owned by former Bulldog center Adam Anderson in 2000-01.

* 131 Showdown: The Ferris State men's and women's basketball teams will square off against rival Grand Valley State this season at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena in the first-ever "131 Showdown" presented by Amway. Details for the January 29, 2011, doubleheader were announced during a press conference (Oct. 20) involving both schools at Van Andel Arena.  Tipoff for the women's GLIAC tilt will be at 6 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 29 with the men's game to follow at 8 p.m. (ET). A portion of the proceeds from the "131 Showdown" will be donated to the Van Andel Institute as part of the Community for a Cure Purple Game. For additional information on the 131 Showdown and tickets, please go to the official web site for the game at www.131showdown.com.  The Detroit Pistons' popular public address announcer, John Mason, will serve as the official PA voice for the contest.

* New Assistant Coach: The Bulldogs have a new full-time assistant coach this season in Andy Bronkema, who had served as a volunteer assistant for the past three years and replaces longtime assistant coach Cory Anderson. Bronkema was a collegiate standout at NAIA Division II member Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. As a player, he served as team captain in both his junior and senior seasons. Bronkema was voted All-Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) three times and twice garnered NAIA Honorable Mention All-America laurels.

* 1,000 Point Scorer: FSU's Justin Keenan was honored last year for becoming the 26th player in school history to notch his 1,000th career point in the season opener at Lewis (11/15/09). He also grabbed his 400th career board in the same game and presently owns career totals of 1,757 points along with 675 rebounds in 93 outings.

* One of a Kind: Ferris' Justin Keenan was honored as a 2009-10 State Farm® Coaches' All-America First Team selection, becoming the first-ever All-America pick at the Division II level in Ferris State men's basketball history.  He's the first Bulldog player in 36 years to claim All-America accolades and joins four previous players to achieve the distinction in Ferris men's hoops history.  He was also the first FSU player in 20 years to be named GLIAC Player of the Year in 2009-10.

* Bulldog Notes: Ferris has posted 40 winning campaigns and 46 non-losing seasons in its 83 seasons of competition ........ The Bulldogs own a current 76-63 (.547) overall record in Jim Wink Arena, which opened in the 1999-00 season. This year marks the team's 12th season in the 2,400-seat facility ...... Justin Keenan led the GLIAC with 13 games of 20 or more points last season ..... The GLIAC had only four players record 10 or more assists in a game last year and two of those efforts came from Bulldog players - Darien Gay (10 vs. Ashland - Dec. 3) and Dontae Molden (11 at Ashland - Jan. 16) ....... Senior guard Darien Gay's current .428 career three-point percentage is tied for third-best in school history .... Justin Keenan's 675 rebounds is eighth-most in FSU history and one shy of tying Marcus Kennedy (1986-89) for seventh.

* New GLIAC Format: The GLIAC office recently announced that for the 2010-11 basketball season, the men's teams will play the first game of a doubleheader and the women's teams the second game whenever both teams are playing on the same day or night in the same venue. Meanwhile, the scenario will be reversed the following year with the women's teams playing the first game and the men's teams the second game in 2011-12. Along with the time format change, the conference will also now play a 19-game schedule this coming year instead of the previous 22-game format due to the addition of two new schools in Lake Erie and Ohio Dominican joining the league.

* D1 Regular-Season Meeting: FSU will visit NCAA Division I member Eastern Michigan for a regular-season tilt during the 2010-11 campaign.  The contest will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at EMU's Convocation Center in Ypsilanti with the start time scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET). This year marks the second consecutive season the Bulldogs will play a Mid-American Conference (MAC) team in regular-season competition following last year's (11/16/09) 82-69 loss at Central Michigan.  FSU suffered a 78-65 overtime loss at NCAA-I Indiana this preseason (Nov. 8).

* Great Game: Justin Keenan's 35-point effort last season versus the defending NCAA-II National Champion Findlay (Feb. 6) topped his previous career-high of 33 points set against Olivet in 2008 (11/25) and it marked the most points scored by a Bulldog player in a game during the eight-year tenure of head coach Bill Sall.  The last FSU player to score more than 35 points in a single contest came in 2001-02 (Jan. 19) when Marcus Wallace totaled 40 points in a 86-85 league overtime home loss to rival Grand Valley State.  The 35-point effort was the GLIAC's third-best individual performance last season and helped FSU defeat the Oilers for only the second time in the last 45 years.

* FSU Notebook: FSU's Justin Keenan made 215 free throws (215-312) last year and topped his own school single-season mark of 180 free throws recorded in 2008-09. He shot over 100 free throws more than any other GLIAC player last season and it marked the third-straight year he led the league in both makes and attempts ....... Justin Keenan claimed the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week Award four consecutive weeks from Jan. 19-Feb. 8 during the 2009-10 season.

* The Coaching Staff: In addition to full-time assistant coach Andy Bronkema, Bill Sall also has two longtime collegiate coaches serving as volunteer assistants in Bill Killian and Ed Douma. A FSU professor, Killian has been involved with the program throughout Sall's eight-year tenure and his association with Ferris basketball dates back to the late 1980's. Meanwhile, Douma served as Sall's collegiate head coach at Calvin during his playing career and previously spent 32 seasons as a head coach at several schools while winning more than 550 games.  He joined the Bulldogs last season after spending the final 11 years of his head coaching career at Hillsdale.

* Fifteen Wins: FSU's 16 victories last year represented the fourth time in head coach Bill Sall's eight years the Bulldogs had won at least 14 games in a campaign. Last year also marked the eighth consecutive year in which the Bulldogs have won 10 or more games under Sall.  Prior to his arrival, the Bulldogs had won 10 games or more only twice in the seven previous seasons.

* Veteran On Staff: Longtime college basketball coach Ed Douma joined the Bulldog staff for the 2009-10 season.  Douma most recently served as head coach at GLIAC-member Hillsdale until 2007.  His experience includes 33 years as a head coach at the collegiate level, including at his alma mater, Calvin College (NCAA-III), where he guided the Knights to the NCAA-III National Championship in 1991-92. He has also served as head coach at Alma College (NCAA-III), fellow GLIAC member Lake Superior State (NAIA), Kent State (NCAA-I) and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (NCAA-III). Douma owns a career mark of 561-295 and also won two MHSAA Class C State Championships at Shelby High School.  FSU head caoch Bill Sall played for Douma at Calvin and also served as one of his assistant coaches at both Calvin and Hillsdale.

* Transfer Additions: The Bulldogs added three transfer players who have played a key role this year.  Junior forward Jerrell Sanders (Grand Rapids/Creston) joined the Bulldog program at midseason last year and sat out after playing JUCO ball at Columbus State (Ohio) before originally inking with NCAA-II Gannon.  Meanwhile, guard Kenny Brown (Farmington Hills/Harrison) played his initial collegiate campaign at NCAA-II Augustana (S.D.) a year ago with guard Brandyn Mungo (Westland/Detroit Renaissance) playing Division II ball at Clarion (Pa.).

* Key Bulldog Notes: FSU junior forward Jerrell Sanders was featured on ESPN's Top 10 Plays during Sportscenter episodes on Dec. 1 for a dunk he had at nationally-ranked Kentucky Wesleyan (Nov. 27) ........ The Bulldogs dropped a 78-65 overtime exhibition decision to the NCAA Division I Indiana Hoosiers this season (Nov. 8) at IU's Assembly Hall in Bloomington (Ind.) after leading for the entire second half and nearly winning the contest as the final horn sounded. A potential game-winning shot from FSU junior forward Jerrell Sanders at the buzzer in regulation was waved off after a replay review. Senior forward Justin Keenan finished the game with a team-high 21 points for FSU .......  FSU's Justin Keenan and Darien Gay were both named to the All-Classic Team at the Owensboro Classic (Nov. 26-27).  Keenan averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the two games while Gay chipped in 16.5 points per contest, including a team-high 25 versus Kentucky Wesleyan ..... Ferris owns a 6-0 mark at home this year and has won eight of its last nine games at Wink Arena dating back to last year.

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