FSU Basketball At A Glance: The Ferris State men’s basketball team officially opens its 2008-09 campaign by visiting regional opponent and preseason nationally-ranked Northern Kentucky Saturday, Nov. 15, for a 1 p.m. (EST) non-league outing inside NKU’s new state of the art Bank of Kentucky Center (capacity of 9,400) at Highland Heights, Ky.
Media Coverage: NKU will provide both a live audio webcast of the game along with a pay-per-view audio/video webcast. Visit the FSU Athletics Website at www.ferris.edu/sports and click on internet event schedule for a complete list of all available links.
Ticket Info: Tickets for Saturday’s game can be purchased at Bank of Kentucky Center gates or online at www.bankofkentuckycenter.com. For more information, contact the facility at (859) 442-2652.
About Ferris State: Ferris State University is a NCAA Division II school located in Big Rapids, Mich., with an enrollment of 12,578. The Bulldogs are a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). Big Rapids is located in West Michigan approximately 60 miles north of Grand Rapids or 40 miles west of Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Exhibition #1: Ferris used a double-double effort from sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) and a key defensive stop on the final possession of the game to post a 74-73 exhibition win over West Michigan opponent Cornerstone in its first exhibition game two weeks ago (Oct. 30) inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena at Big Rapids, Mich. Keenan tallied a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds while adding four steals and two blocked shots to spark the Bulldog victory. The Bulldogs took a 74-69 lead with 2:21 remaining on three consecutive baskets from the 6-6 Keenan before the Golden Eagles answered with two-straight buckets to trim the lead to one with 44 seconds remaining. Keenan missed a jumper with six seconds to go, but freshman point guard Dontae Molden (Detroit/Pershing) stripped CU's Dominic Allen of the ball with only two seconds left to preserve the victory. Junior transfer guard Josh Young (Ypsilanti) added 13 points in the Bulldog win while the combination of Molden and sophomore guards Darien Gay (Detroit/Henry Ford) along with Bryan Pasciak (Rockford) combined for 15 of FSU's 21 assists. Molden netted six assists, Gay had five and Pasciak finished with four to go with his eight points on the offensive end.
Exhibition #2: Three players reached double-figure scoring as Ferris State rolled to a 80-66 win over longtime West Michigan rival Calvin in exhibition play this past Tuesday (Nov. 11) evening inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 48-31 halftime lead and never trailed in the final 30 minutes of the game while leading by as many as 25 points with 17 minutes to go in posting the convincing win. Ten of the 12 FSU players who played in the outing scored as the Bulldogs displayed an improved performance at both ends of the floor. Sophomore center Justin Keenan led the way with game-highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Two newcomers also reached double-digits as junior guard Josh Young chipped in 13 points and junior forward Verdell Billingsley (Cleveland, Ohio/Lakewood) added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
The Rankings: The Bulldogs received 18 points and were listed second among other teams receiving votes in the 2008-09 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Preseason National Poll (Oct. 30). NKU was listed sixth in the NABC poll along with being the nation’s preseson number four team in the Division II Bulletin Rankings.
Last Season: Ferris posted a 10-19 overall record and was 5-13 in GLIAC play with nine freshmen in the program during the 2007-08 season. FSU previously advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament in both 2004-05 and 2005-06 after claiming back-to-back league titles in 2003-04 and 2004-05. The Bulldogs also reached the NCAA-II Sweet Sixteen in 2004-05.
Welcome Back: The Bulldogs welcome back eight letterwinners and four starters from last season’s squad. FSU has two seniors who will play this year in forwards Mark Gildersleeve (Byron Center) and Jason Holder (Saginaw/Arthur Hill). Justin Keenan was the squad’s leading scorer (16.9 ppg.) and rebounder (6.9 rpg.) last season.
New To Campus: The Bulldogs have seven newcomers on this season’s roster, including five transfers and two freshmen. Three of the transfer players are from the junior college ranks. The two exceptions are Central Michigan senior transfer Jon Yeazel (Middleville/Thornapple-Kellogg) and junior guard/forward Austin Randel (Lake City/McBain). Yeazel will redshirt this season. Randel averaged a team-high 20.7 points while starting all 27 contests at NCAA-II North Greenville (S.C.) last campaign.
Head Coach Bill Sall: A 1994 Calvin graduate, seventh-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. The Zeeland, Mich., native served as Ferris’ interim head coach for a portion of the 1995-96 campaign and led the Bulldogs to a 5-8 mark. 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. Sall has a current 92-94 (.495) career mark.
Worth Noting: Ferris State notched its sixth-straight 10-plus win campaign in 2007-08. Prior to the current stretch under seventh-year head coach Bill Sall, the Bulldogs had not won more than eight games in the previous four seasons.
B2 Broadband 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 $6 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.ferris.edu/sports.
Live Internet Stats: “Live Stats” of all 2008-09 Ferris State home games will be provided in progress via the internet. Visit the site at www.ferris.edu/sports and click the “Live Stats” icon to access.
GLIAC Games On The Air: All 22 of FSU’s 2008-09 league games are tentatively slated to be carried live by local radio station WBRN (News Talk 1460 AM or 107.7 FM). FSU Assistant 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.ferris.edu/sports.
On The Internet: Ferris State University Athletics’ official web site can be found at www.ferris.edu/sports. The site features information on all FSU varsity programs including rosters, stats, yearbooks and more.
What A Change: 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 87-86 (.503) and claimed two divisional titles while making two NCAA-II Tournament appearances in his six previous seasons at the helm. FSU won only four games (4-22) the year before Sall arrived in 2001-02.
The Bulldog Tradition: The 2007-08 campaign marks the 80th season of Bulldog men’s basketball. The program began in 1925 although Ferris did not field a team from 1942-45 due to World War II. FSU has compiled a 954-893 (.517) all-time mark. The Bulldogs have won 11 GLIAC titles, made eight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances and reached the 1988 NCAA-II Elite Eight. Ferris captured a league-record four consecutive GLIAC titles from 1986-90.
The Bulldog Roster: Ferris’ current 2008-09 roster includes three seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen. Eight of the 15 players are guards while the remaining seven are frontcourt players. Fourteen of the 15 players on the Bulldogs’ 2008-09 roster hail from Michigan with one from Ohio.
Home Opener: FSU’s 2008-09 home opener is slated for Thursday, Nov. 20, when the Bulldogs entertain St. Joseph’s (Ind.) for a 7:30 p.m. (EST) non-league game at Wink Arena in Big Rapids. NKU and St. Joseph’s are the only Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) foes on FSU’s 2008-09 schedule. Tickets will be available at the gate prior to tipoff.
Great Future: Nine freshmen played for FSU last year as the roster featured only three uppperclassmen and one senior. Ferris’ freshman class accounted for 1,567 of the squad’s 1,936 total points (81%) last season. Additionally, 779 of FSU’s 1,037 total rebounds (75%) last year came from rookie players.
FSU Picked Fifth: Ferris State was picked to finish fifth in the 2008-09 GLIAC Men's Basketball North Division Preseason Poll, which was announced during the league's second annual media day teleconference (Oct. 30) held this season. The poll was chosen by selected members of the media and the GLIAC's Sports Information Directors. The 30-member group tabbed Grand Valley State and Findlay to win the conference's North and South Division titles, respectively. The Bulldogs totaled 69 points in the balloting while finishing fifth in the North Division.
Preseason All-GLIAC: FSU’s Justin Keenan, who averaged 15.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest in his initial collegiate season a year ago, was one of five players named to the Preseason All-GLIAC North Division squad in voting by the league’s member head coaches. Five players were also named to the South Division team with Findlay’s Josh Bostic earning GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year laurels.
Statistics Leaders: Ferris led the GLIAC in offensive rebounds (13.24 pg.) for all games last year ...... FSU ranked fourth in rebound margin (+3.0) ...... Justin Keenan was listed ninth in the GLIAC in scoring (16.9 ppg) along with 10th in rebounding (6.9 rpg) in 2007-08. He was also listed second in offensive rebounds (3.45 pg.). FSU sophomore forward Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights) ranked fifth in blocked shots (1.46 bpg.) ...... Keenan had the second-highest scoring and rebounding averages of any GLIAC freshmen last campaign.
Bulldog Bites: FSU’s Justin Keenan reached double-figure scoring in 26 of 29 outings last campaign and netted six double-double (points & rebounds) efforts. He also scored 20 points or more eight times .......... Ferris fell to nationally second-ranked archrival Grand Valley State in its season finale (Feb. 23) last season as a record sellout crowd of 2,430 fans witnessed the men's game won by the Lakers 81-67 inside FSU’s Jim Wink Arena. The crowd represented the largest to ever witness a Bulldog basketball game in the 10-year old facility ........ Ferris State’s 2008-09 GLIAC opener is set for Monday, Dec. 1, when the Bulldogs visit archrival Grand Valley State for a 6 p.m. (EST) outing inside GVSU’s Fieldhouse Arena at Allendale, Mich.
To The Stripe: FSU’s Justin Keenan attempted 24 more free throws than any other GLIAC player last campaign. Keenan, who ranked ninth in free throw percentage among the GLIAC leaders, converted 167 of 212 (.788) attempts last year. Keenan had 52 more attempts than any player found among the top 15 league leaders in free throw percentage. Until the final week of the season, Keenan had made more free throws than any other conference player had attempted.
Season Openers: Ferris State will officially open its 81st season against Northern Kentucky. The Bulldogs, who have won four of their last 12 season openers, currently hold a 40-40 all-time record in opening day contests. Last season (11/17/07), Ferris dropped a 84-72 non-league home decision to Hillsdale at FSU’s Wink Arena. In 2000-01, FSU toppled NCAA-I Oakland (11/21/00) 75-70 on opening day at Rochester, Mich. The win over Oakland represented Ferris’ first opening day road victory since the 1987-88 campaign.
Scouting NKU: NKU posted a 21-8 overall record during the 2007-08 campaign and placed first in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) East Division for the second-straight year en route to the NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Semifinals. The Norse are guided by fifth-year head coach Dave Bezold. Northern Kentucky was picked second in the 2008-09 GLVC East Division Preseason Poll. NKU dropped a pair of exhibition games, falling at home in the first-ever game at the Bank of Kentucky Center to NCAA Division I preseson third-ranked Louisville 84-69 (Nov. 8) and dropping a 73-61 setback Tuesday (Nov. 11) at NCAA-I Cincinnati.
Series Information: Northern Kentucky maintains a 6-0 series edge and beat the Bulldogs 67-45 last season (11/24/07) at FSU’s Jim Wink Arena ...... NKU’s Dennis Gagai had a game-high 25 points for the Norse in last year’s meeting while Justin Keenan paced Ferris with a team-best 13 points in the loss .... NKU topped Ferris 73-59 in the last meeting at Highland Heights two years ago (11/17/06) in the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic hosted by the Norse at Regents Hall ..... FSU head coach Bill Sall is winless in three tries to date against the Norse.