Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's and women's basketball squads both officially began preparations for the 2013-14 campaign by holding their first practices on Tuesday (Oct. 15) in FSU's Jim Wink Arena at Big Rapids, Mich.
Expectations are high for both teams heading into the 2013-14 season with the FSU men returning 10 letterwinners from a year ago while the women's squad boasts the return of eight key squad members from last season.
The Ferris State men's basketball program will open a new era this season under first-year head coach Andy Bronkema, who was elevated to the position after six years as an assistant coach in July. Overall, Ferris State has won four league championships and twice reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen in men's basketball over the past decade.
Last year, with Bronkema as the Bulldogs' top assistant, Ferris State wrapped up the 2012-13 season with a 14-13 overall record and the Bulldogs reached the GLIAC Postseason Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine years, which ranks as one of the conference's top showings over the past decade.
In his first year as the program's top assistant in 2010-11, the Bulldogs won the GLIAC North Division Championship and reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen. FSU followed up the memorable campaign by winning a share of a second-straight GLIAC North Division crown in 2011-12. The Bulldogs have made five-straight league tournament berths to date in
Bronkema's tenure as an assistant coach and FSU has recorded more victories in the competitive GLIAC North than any other school over the last three years.
Bronkema takes over a Ferris State program with a long track record of success that includes more than 1,000 all-time victories, 13 GLIAC Championships and nine NCAA Tournament appearances entering the 2013-14 season. FSU also posted an impressive 10-1 mark at home in league regular-season action during the 2012-13 season at Jim Wink Arena.
Among Bronkema's top returnees this season will be three starters in junior guards Dietrich Lever (Detroit/Canton) and Drew Lehman (Toledo/Central Catholic) along with sophomore center Jared Stolicker (Middleville/Thornapple-Kellogg).
The other letterwinners back include five sophomores in wing Milton Cribbs (Detroit/Inkster), guard Jibreel Jackson (Chicago/Curie), forward Josh Fleming (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North), wing Matt Sinnaeve (Gwinn) and forward Dan Chilcote (Jackson/Lumen Christi) along with redshirt junior forward Matt Stoll (Kent City) and senior forward Raymoan McAfee (Detroit/Pershing).
The Bulldog men's hoops squad opens exhibition play at home against Madonna next Thursday (Oct. 24) inside Jim Wink Arena at 7 p.m. (ET). The Bulldogs will also host Davenport on Oct. 28 and visit Calvin on Nov. 7 during the exhibition season in addition to holding an alumni day/game on Nov. 2.
The official season opener for the Bulldog men takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 20, as FSU opens the 2013-14 campaign on the road against regional foe Lewis (Ill.) in Romeoville, Ill.
Last season, the Bulldog women posted a 13-13 overall mark during head coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate's first season at the helm in 2012-13 despite battling injuries most of the year. FSU finished with a 12-10 mark in GLIAC play while reaching the conference tournament for the 14th time in program history and the double-digit win total marked the 16th time in the last 17 seasons in which the Bulldog women have accomplished the feat.
Expectations are high heading into the 2013-14 campaign as the Bulldogs' returnees this season will include senior guard Sarah DeShone (Elkhart, Ind./Jimtown), who earned All-America honors for the second-straight year last season. FSU also returns four other players with starting experience from a year ago in guard Katie Mavis (St. Joseph), forwards Ashley Rando (Jackson/Northwest) and Kara Hess (Grand Rapids/Grandville) along with center Hannah Hoffman (Okemos).
Additionally, the returnees include three student-athletes who redshirted in 2012-13 - sophomores Destiney Robinson (Grand Rapids/Christian), Dena Droste (DeWitt) and Christina Branch (Grand Rapids/West Michigan Lutheran). Robinson played her initial collegiate campaign at Grand Rapids Community College while Droste transferred prior to last season from NCAA Division I Kent State. Branch claimed GLIAC Freshman of the Year recognition for the Bulldogs in 2011-12 as FSU reached the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals and won the GLIAC North Division Championship.
The Bulldog women are slated to open the 2013-14 season by squaring off against the Michigan State Spartans in exhibition action at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. (ET). They open the regular-season on the road at the United Electric Tip-off Classic hosted by Bellarmine University on Nov. 23-24 in Louisville, Ky.
Both Bulldog teams will open their quests for a GLIAC Championship at home on Thursday, Dec. 5, as FSU hosts Lake Erie in a league twinbill at Wink Arena. The two games against the Storm will represent the first official regular-season home contests for both teams this season.