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A look at the GLIAC

November 10, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

1. Ferris State

Record: 23-7 (17-2 GLIAC, 1st North)

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 71-56 in Big Rapids, Won 68-65 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 10 in Big Rapids, Feb. 7 in Houghton

One Strength: Weapons. The Bulldogs return All-GLIAC First Team guard Sarah DeShone and 2012 GLIAC Freshman of the Year Christina Branch for a tough outside-inside duo.

One Weakness: Transitions. Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate takes over as head coach for Tracey Dorow, who left for Division I Valparaiso. Lamoreaux-Tate said she wants to up the tempo, which could be scary for a team that averaged a minus-3 turnover margin.

Outlook: Lamoreaux-Tate is familiar with success, having won more than 350 games in 17 years in Grand Rapids-area high schools, and takes over a bunch just as familiar with success after a run to the GLIAC title game and NCAA second round last year.

2. Michigan Tech

Record: 20-7 (14-5 GLIAC, 2nd North)

3. Grand Valley State

Record: 10-16 (7-12 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 66-40 in Allendale, Lost 69-48 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 12 in Allendale, Feb. 9 in Houghton

One Strength: Size. The Lakers have four players 6-foot-2 or taller, and all of them have significant experience. Throw in a first-class senior forward in Briauna Taylor, an all-league performer, it's a tough frontcourt.

One Weakness: Finishing. The Lakers lost eight of their last nine, making it three years in a row the wheels have come off down the stretch. Then again, there was a good reason.

Outlook: After an injury ravaged season in which three starters tore ACLs and a fourth was kicked off the team, it can't possibly go worse for the team the rest of the GLIAC loves to hate. Hard to believe they'll be down for long.

4. Northern Michigan

Record: 13-14 (9-10 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 72-49 in Houghton, Lost 66-60 in Marquette

Playing the Huskies: Feb. 2 in Marquette, March 2 in Houghton

One Strength: Momentum. The Wildcats rallied their way into the GLIAC Tournament, winning five of their last seven. Ashland beat them by 20 in the quarters, but the Eagles did that to a lot of teams.

One Weakness: Inexperience. NMU has two juniors and no seniors and lost Chelsea Lyons and Hillary Bowling, two of their top three scorers last season.

Outlook: NMU is going for a new look this season, including Hancock's Maria Almquist, who is eligible after transferring from Minnesota Duluth. Guard Alyssa Colla (8.7 ppg)?and center Courtney Lemon (7.6 ppg) lead the returners.

5. Wayne State

Record: 12-14 (7-12 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 78-65 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 17 in Houghton, Feb. 14 in Detroit

One Strength: Stability. The Warriors' coaching staff is in its second year and six of seven letterwinners return, including the top four scorers. Wayne had a decent team last year and should be a tough out again.

One Weakness: Defense. At 70.3 points per game, the Warriors were last in the GLIAC in scoring defense by a wide margin.

Outlook: Wayne will be looking to take another step forward, and with four returners averaging 10 points a game, it's doable. A strong rebounding team, they rarely if ever shoot the 3.

6. Northwood

Record: 10-19 (5-14 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 73-66 in Midland, Lost 88-75 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 24 in Midland, Feb. 21 in Houghton

One Strength: Sharpshooting. Returning guard Rachel Church made more threes than anyone else in the GLIAC (83) and averaged more minutes per game than any other returning player.

One Weakness: Replacing Savannah Stedman, top five in the GLIAC in both scoring and rebounding, will be tough.

Outlook: Not a great team last year, NU may take another step back if it can't replace Stedman. Perimeter defense was poor last year (13th), which Sam Hoyt exploited for a school-record 37 points in the regular season finale.

7. Lake Superior State

Record: 10-16 (6-13 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 83-53 in Sault Ste. Marie, Lost 72-43 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 26 in Sault Ste. Marie, Feb. 23 in Houghton

One strength: Maria Blazejewski. The 6-foot forward is the leading returning scorer in the North Division (16.2 ppg) and pitches in nearly six rebounds a game. Unfortunately for the Lakers, she's the only senior.

One weakness: Upheaval. Shannon Eggers takes over as interim head coach after Justin Rees quit after a single season due to personal reasons. Ten of the 14 players are sophomores or younger.

Outlook: LSSU struggled offensively, finishing 12th in the league in scoring and field-goal percentage and 13th in turnover margin. The Lakers have been a decent defensive team but will have to put the ball in the hole for success.

8. Saginaw Valley State

Record: 6-20 (4-15 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 59-42 in University Center, Lost 63-42 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 19 in Houghton, Feb. 16 in University Center

One strength: Second chances. Coach Jamie Pewinski, formerly of LSSU, has a major rebuilding project here, and with one senior, even if 2012-13 is rough, there is time to turn things around.

One weakness: SVSU finished last in eight statistical categories last season, including scoring offense, offensive rebounds and assist-to-turnover ratio.

Outlook: The Cardinals last had a winning record in GLIAC play in 1998-99. Turning that level of futility around will take take, probably longer than this season. Pewinski has won at LSSU and is an alum, so talent and motivation are there.

South Division

1. Ashland

Record: 33-2 (19-0 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 63-62 in Ashland, Won 80-70 in Ashland (GLIAC Semifinal)

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 5 in Houghton

One strength: Where to begin? Ashland scored nine points per game more than the rest of the league and won its games by an average of 19.4 points. Kari Dougherty is the returning GLIAC Player of the Year and D-II Bulletin Preseason Player of the Year.

One weakness: If you know of any, there are a few people at the Student Development Complex who'd like to hear about it. Seriously, Ashland's plus-.3 turnover margin was merely average in the GLIAC.

Outlook: Ashland lost one player off a team that lost the national championship game in overtime. The Eagles aren't just a heavy favorite for the GLIAC championship, they're a heavy favorite for the national championship.

2. Tiffin

Record: 21-6 (14-5 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 75-59 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 15 in Tiffin

One strength: Steady growth. Tiffin set a school record for wins last year, reached the GLIAC Tournament semifinal and finished just outside the NCAA Tournament picture. Two of the top three scorers return.

One weakness: Replacing Mandy Jaeb. Jaeb started all but four career games and finished in the GLIAC's top 10 in scoring, assists, steals and free-throw percentage. Karli Mast and Jessica Harris will keep the Dragons tough, but Jaeb's a big loss.

Outlook: The Dragons are legitimately among the league's elite now. Not bad, considering 2010-11 ended a streak of 15 straight losing seasons.

3. Findlay

Record: 15-12 (9-10 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 58-55 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 6 in Houghton

One strength: Depth. Three of UF's top five scorers return, plus Laura (Bardall) Piehl, a consistent 14 ppg player who missed last season due to injury and 6-6 D-I transfer center Andrea Kras.

One weakness: Rebounding. Findlay collected only 61.1 percent of its opponents' shots last season, the worst rate in the league, contributing to a mediocre (62.7 ppg) defense.

Outlook: Injuries scuttled the Oilers in the second half, as they went 3-7 in their last 10 and were a non-factor in the GLIAC Tournament. A strong program, there's lots of reason to believe in a rebound this year.

4. Hillsdale

Record: 14-13 (10-9 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 82-77 in Hillsdale

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 8 in Houghton

One strength: Guard play. Marissa DeMott and Lea Jones, who both averaged 10 points per game, make for a solid backcourt despite the loss of all-GLIAC guard Chelsea Harrison.

One weakness: Frontcourt. The Chargers got outrebounded worse than any team in the league (minus-5.4) and were led in rebounding by Jones, a 5-6 guard.

Outlook: A strong team that likes to push tempo, Hillsdale never got enough consistency to climb above average, failing to win more than three straight GLIAC games. Always tough (particularly for Tech), but not quite elite.

5. Lake Erie

Record: 16-11 (10-9 GLIAC)

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 69-66 in Painesville, Lost 82-52 in GLIAC Quarterfinals

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 3 in Houghton

One strength: Something to build on. Lake Erie was the first of the GLIAC's Class of 2010 to make a postseason tournament in any major sport, though its stay was brief after a rout in Houghton. But that's something.

One weakness: Anonymity. Eight seniors graduated off that Storm team, including three 1,000-point scorers. In a division with several quality programs, there won't be much catch-up time.

Outlook: D-I transfer Ashar Harris, who averaged a double-double at Morehead State, leads a new Storm front, but there may be too much competition to keep up.

6. Walsh

Record: 14-17

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 1 in North Canton

One strength: The element of surprise. As newcomers, the Cavaliers played only two GLIAC teams last year (Ashland and Malone). There's some talent here, starting with Tracy Payne, who averaged 11.3 ppg from the 2-guard spot.

One weakness: With seven letterwinners and three starters gone from a team that had a losing season last year, it's easy to see Walsh may be at the bottom of the ladder.

Outlook: Like most newcomers, the Cavaliers will be attempting just to make a mark in GLIAC year one. Considering this team made the NAIA national tournament as recently as 2010, it could happen.

7. Malone

Record: 12-15

Playing the Huskies: Nov. 29 in Canton

One strength: Gotta start somewhere. No, Malone's not highly touted in its first GLIAC season, and Tech's a heck of a way to start it, but this team does return its top three scorers.

One weakness: Previous interactions with the GLIAC haven't been good. Last year, the Pioneers beat Northwood, but got beat by Wayne St., Ohio Dominican and Findlay, occasionally badly.

Outlook: The first year might be rough for the Pioneers, but at least they've got a good guide: Mandy Jaeb, who starred for Tiffin the last few seasons, is a graduate assistant here.

8. Ohio Dominican

Record: 7-19, 2-17 GLIAC

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 59-42 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 13 in Delaware, Ohio

One strength: Youth. New coach Lynsey Warren, who played for Ashland until 2008, six sophomores, four freshmen, and three juniors. No seniors, which might be why the preseason predictions have no faith in the Panthers.

One weakness: Record. ODU won two league games last year, only one after a bizarre GLIAC opener in which it uncorked a 41-8 run on Grand Valley. ODU beat Northwood in January and was within 10 of just three other league opponents.

Outlook: Given the inexperience at all levels and a weak track record, it's easy to get down on the Panthers. Tech's game there is off-campus thanks to winter commencement, so their fans won't have to watch it.



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