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FSU Basketball At A Glance: It’s “Big Monday” as the Ferris State University men’s basketball team opens Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play against nationally-ranked archrival Grand Valley State on Monday evening (Dec. 1) in Allendale, Mich. Tipoff at the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena is set for approximately 8 p.m. (EST) after the women’s contest between the two schools.
Media Coverage: Monday’s game can be heard live locally on WBRN (1460 AM or 107.7 FM) with Rob Bentley handling the play-by-play duties. Live audio and live internet statistics will be available for the game. 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 Monday’s game will be sold at the door and all seats are general admission. Prices are $7 for adults or $5 for children under 17 and seniors over 55 years of age. Call the GVSU Ticket Office at (616) 331-3741 for more information on ticket sales.
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.
The Last Time Out: A career night from sophomore forward/center Justin Keenan (Grand Rapids/Ottawa Hills) helped Ferris register its first regular-season victory of the 2008-09 campaign in its most recent game last Tuesday (Nov. 25) evening as the Bulldogs posted a 87-76 triumph over Olivet inside FSU’s Jim Wink Arena at Big Rapids, Mich. The 6-6 Keenan, who earlier in the day was chosen as the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week for his efforts in Ferris’ home loss to St. Joseph’s (Ind.), had another stellar outing with a personal career-high and game-best 33 points in the winning cause. Keenan was 13-of-17 from the floor and added seven of 10 free throws to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 31 minutes of action. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 46-33 halftime edge and increased its advantage to 25 points with 13:48 to play, but the Comets would not go away as they cut the lead down to as few as nine points twice in the final eight minutes of the game. The second time came with 2:58 to play, which was answered by four straight-points from the Bulldogs to put the game away. The Bulldogs also received 15 points from junior guard Josh Young (Ypsilanti) and 13 points by sophomore forward Lou Williams (Muskegon Heights).
A Look At The Bulldogs: The Bulldogs opened the year with an 0-2 mark as they dropped a 72-57 road decision to preseason nationall fourth-ranked Northern Kentucky (Nov. 15) in the season opener and then also suffered a 78-63 home setback to St. Joseph’s (Ind.) prior to the win over Olivet. Ferris won both of its exhibition games this season with two home wins over Cornerstone (Oct. 30) and Calvin (Nov. 11). FSU topped Cornerstone 74-73 before beating longtime rival Calvin by a 80-66 count inside Jim Wink Arena.
The Rankings: The Bulldogs are not ranked in the initial (Nov. 25) National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Poll but did receive 18 points and were listed second among other teams receiving votes in the 2008-09 NABC preseson poll (Oct. 30). GVSU is currently ranked ninth nationally in the NABC rankings after being chosen 11th overall in the preseason poll. Another GLIAC school, Findlay, currently holds the nation’s number one overall ranking.
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 93-96 (.492) 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 88-88 (.500) 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 2008-09 campaign marks the 81st 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 955-895 (.516) 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.
Coming Up Next: The Bulldogs continue their league-opening road swing by traveling to Ohio for two games later this week. FSU visits Ashland Thursday, Dec. 4, for a 7:30 p.m. (EST) league game in Ashland, Ohio, and then takes on league newcomer Tiffin on Saturday, Dec. 6, starting at 3 p.m. (EST) in Tiffin, Ohio.
GLIAC Player of Week: Prior to last Tuesday’s home win over Olivet, FSU’s Justin Keenan was chosen as the GLIAC North Division Player of the Week (Nov. 25) for his efforts in scoring a game-high 24 points with eight rebounds and two steals in the Bulldogs' 78-63 non-league home setback to regional foe and then unbeaten St. Joseph's (Ind.) on Nov. 20 at Wink Arena in Big Rapids. Keenan sank eight-of-14 (.571) field goal attempts and connected on eight-of-12 (.667) free throws in the loss to earn the league’s weekly award honor.
Good Start For Keenan: FSU’s Justin Keenan is averaging 24 points and 8.0 rebounds in his two exhibition games and three regular-season outings thus far this season. Keenan has tallied 120 points and 40 boards in the five combined games with two double-double efforts and three games with 24 or more points, including a career-high 33 points versus Olivet.
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 State’s 2008-09 league home opener is against Hillsdale on Saturday, Dec. 13, starting at 3 p.m. (EST) in Wink Arena. The Bulldogs will host the nation’s top preseason-ranked squad the following day (Dec. 14) as Findlay visits FSU for a special Sunday afternoon league matchup starting at 4 p.m. (EST).
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.
Scouting The Lakers: Grand Valley State, which claimed a third consecutive GLIAC North Division title last season, is led in scoring by sophomore forward Justin Ringler (11.3 ppg), who’s a native of Reed City. The Lakers, who are guided by fifth-year head coach Ric Wesley, were 36-1 overall and reached the NCAA-II Elite Eight during the 2007-08 campaign. Grand Valley State holds a 4-0 overall record this year following Saturday’s (Nov. 29) 79-55 non-league home win over Indianapolis. The Lakers were listed ninth in the latest (Nov. 25) National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II Top 25 poll. GVSU was 18-0 in GLIAC action last season.
Series Information: Ferris holds a 46-43 advantage heading into Monday’s 90th meeting with GVSU. The Lakers, however, have won seven-straight meetings and recorded a 81-67 triumph in the most recent game (2/23/08) to finish the regular-season a year ago in Big Rapids, Mich. FSU has won five of the last 13 series’ contests overall. Ferris’ last win was a 79-63 win three years ago (12/8/05) at Jim Wink Arena. Bill Sall currently holds a 5-10 career coaching mark versus GVSU.