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A look at the GLIAC

November 13, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

1. Michigan Tech

Record: 16-12, 13-6 T-1st, North

2. Wayne State

Record: 18-9, 14-5 T-2nd, South

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 60-54 in Detroit

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

One Strength: Fundamentals. This team plays defense, makes free throws and is low on turnovers. You'd better if you want to stay out on the good side of coach David Greer, who's known for having a big doghouse.

One Weakness: Offense gets stuck sometimes. Wayne failed to score 65 points in six of its nine GLIAC losses and was 12th of 14 in three-pointers made.

Outlook: Wayne is always tough and athletic, and though there were significant graduation losses, Mike Hollingsworth (2011 GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year) is back after a medical redshirt last year.

3. Ferris State

Record: 16-11, 13-6 T-1st North

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 77-64 in Big Rapids, Lost 67-54 in Houghton, Lost 71-59 in Houghton in GLIAC?Quarterfinals

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

One Strength: Sneakiness. Ferris led the league in steals last season with 8.3 per game and had a plus-3.7 turnover margin, also number one.

One Weakness: Can't shoot straight. Ferris was 10th of 14 in scoring last year, which they could've fixed if they weren't dead last in field-goal percentage (.409) and free-throw percentage (.625). FSU lost games by five, three and one in the last two weeks of the season.

Outlook: Tech beat Ferris three times by double digits and in none of those games did the Bulldogs shoot 40 percent from the field. A strong defensive team but must rely on more than just mistakes for points.

4. Northwood

Record: 18-9, 13-6 GLIAC, T-1st North

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 66-62 in Midland, Lost 77-67 in Houghton

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

One strength: Perimeter defense. Only 30.4 percent of 3-point attempts against the T-Wolves went in, best in the league. Also, its .416 field-goal percentage against was no. 2.

One weakness: Win the big one. Against the other two north Division co-champions, Northwood went 0-4, including a winner-take-all game in the SDC last February. They lost in the GLIAC Tournament, too, at Wayne State.

Outlook: Northwood was the most improved team in the league in the second year for coach Jeff Rekeweg. In year three, the T-Wolves return many, but lose Bobby Lewis, who was the only player to average scoring in double figures last year.

5. Grand Valley State

Record: 14-13, 10-9 GLIAC, 4th North

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 70-68 (OT)?in Allendale, Won 64-50 in Houghton

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

One strength: Defense. The Lakers are always going to D up, and last year was no exception, with a 62.1 ppg average that was second-best in the league. Wayne State was the only GLIAC team to hang 70 on GVSU in the regular season.

One weakness: Scoring. The third-worst scoring offense in the league contributed to some season-killing bad losses, particularly at Lake Superior State and NMU.

Outlook: The Lakers have some big holes to fill, including the top two scorers, but point guard Breland Hogan and shotblocker Tyrone Lee make for a solid stable of returnees.

6. Lake Superior State

Record: 11-15, 6-13 GLIAC, T-5th North

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 78-70 in Sault Ste. Marie, Lost 84-72 in Houghton

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

One strength: Derek Billing. Billing had 25 and 27 points against Tech last year, which was good since their top player, the now departed Kyle Hunt, shot a combined 3-for-20 from the field vs. the Huskies in those games.

One weakness: Interior. LSSU blocked a league-worst 41 shots, allowed a .447 field-goal percentage (11th in the league) and had a mediocre plus-0.3 rebounding margin.

Outlook: This has been a very vanilla program lately, with three straight losing seasons. Unless Billing and some others take a big step forward, it's hard to imagine it not becoming four.

7. Saginaw Valley State

Record: 10-16, 6-13 GLIAC, T-5th North

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 77-71 in University Center, Lost 85-58 in Houghton

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

One strength: Rejuvenation. New coach Randy Baruth takes over after Frankie Smith's five-year tenure ended in his resignation. Baruth worked with Don Meyer, the NCAA wins leader at Northern (S.D.) State.

One weakness: The bus. SVSU won just one GLIAC road game last year, at a bad Lake Erie squad. Four of the first five in GLIAC play are away, so Baruth's first order of business is before him.

Outlook: If Meyer's track record is an indication, SVSU will be tougher on defense and rebounding, which is needed, but also just like a lot of other teams in the division. Some weapons here (like senior guard Chris Webb and Menominee's Brett Beland), but hard to tell how year one will go.

8. Northern Michigan

Record: 9-17, 5-14 GLIAC, 7th North

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 77-54 in Houghton, Lost 70-64 in Marquette

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

One strength: Pace. With two 9-17 seasons behind him, coach Doug Lewis has most of his players in the key roles. And if previous meetings with Tech are an indication, they'll run.

One weakness: Efficiency. NMU was last in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio and assists.

Outlook: With two of the top three scorers gone and the third (Haki Stampley) out for the season with an undisclosed medical issue, this season could be scary for NMU. Junior forward Matt Craggs and sophomore guard Quinten Calloway will have to bolster the offensive output.


1. Findlay

Record: 24-7, 14-5 GLIAC, T-2nd South

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 70-56 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 6 in Houghton

One strength: Tradition. Even with a first-year coach in Charlie Ernst, the Oilers won the GLIAC tourney title and made the NCAAs last year. Findlay has the highest winning percentage in Division II in this century. New regime, same results.

One weakness: UF will have to replace point guard Kyle Caiola. National voters seem to be OK with this, though, as the Oilers are ranked No. 8 in the national coaches poll.

Outlook: It's not exactly shocking that Findlay's good. The Oilers led the league in scoring offense with 77.3 ppg and return four of the top five scorers. A perennial powerhouse.

2. Hillsdale

Record: 24-6, 16-3 GLIAC, 1st South

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 91-69 in Hillsdale, Won 84-62 in Hillsdale in GLIAC?Semifinals

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 8 in Houghton

One strength: A championship banner. Hillsdale won the outright league regular season title behind the best scoring defense (61.7 ppg) in the league and went to the NCAAs for the first time in a decade.

One weakness: Reloading. The Chargers lost three senior starters and will have to build around senior center Nick Washburn.

Outlook: Yeah, there are some graduation losses, but this team has won 90 games in five seasons under John Tharp, so it's not like they're headed to the basement. That much better that Tech has them in December on their first road trip of the season.

3. Ashland

Record: 15-12, 10-9 GLIAC, 4th South

Last Year vs. Tech: Won 73-59 in Ashland

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 5 in Houghton

One strength: Evan Yates. The first-team all-GLIAC player both outscored and outrebounded Ali Haidar last season both in averages and their one meeting, an Ashland road win.

One weakness: Defense. Ashland was 10th in the league in scoring defense and free-throw shooting. Also, the Eagles won just two GLIAC road games, at Tiffin and Ohio Dominican.

Outlook: With Yates and several key contributors back, it's hard to rank the Eagles even this low. But can they crack the top tier in the GLIAC South? They'll have to start winning big road games to do it.

4. Tiffin

Record: 15-14, 7-12 GLIAC, 5th South

Last year vs. Tech: Lost 72-56 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 15 in Tiffin

One strength: Offense. Tiffin was second in the league with 75.9 ppg last season and guys like Joe Graessle (17.9 ppg) can fill it up even if leading scorer Karl Finley has graduated.

One weakness: Stops. Tiffin didn't get many. Their No. 2 offense was countered by the worst (75 ppg) scoring defense in the league. However Tiffin allowed just a .421 field goal percentage against (same as Tech), so much of that had to do with pace.

Outlook: A dangerous team any night because of its scoring capabilities, it remains to be seen if the Dragons can defeat enough of the teams capable of running with them to make headway in a tough division.

5. Walsh

Record: 26-5

Last Year vs. Tech: New to GLIAC in 2012-13

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 1 in North Canton

One strength: Readiness. The Cavaliers have as much pedigree as any major program entering the GLIAC since expansion. Coach Jeff Young is 224-44 in eight seasons and has played in multiple NAIA national championship games.

One weakness: Competition level. Other than Malone, with which it split, Walsh didn't play a GLIAC team last year. Could there be an adjustment period? The GLIAC hopes so.

Outlook: It's a good thing the Cavaliers aren't eligible for the GLIAC Tournament yet, because this team will be able to win games on a regular basis in its freshman year in the league. Look out for sharp point guard Brad DuPont and 7-foot-1 center Hrvoje Vucic.

6. Lake Erie

Record: 10-16, 5-14 GLIAC, 6th South

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 61-58 in Painesville

Playing the Huskies: Jan. 3 in Houghton

One strength: Opportunistic. Only Findlay forced more turnovers than the Storm (404) did last year, and for a 10-win team, the plus-1.62 turnover margin's not too bad.

One weakness: Rebounding. There's more than one way to end a possession, but don't tell LEC, which was last in both offensive rebounds per game and rebounding margin at an ugly minus-4.7, which probably explains why the Storm were 13th in both scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense.

Outlook: Even with four starters returning, Lake Erie's going to have to step it up big time to be competitive in the tough South Division. This team did beat Ashland and Northwood last year, so there's some hope, though.

7. Malone

Record: 12-15

Last Year vs. Tech: New to GLIAC?in 2012-13

Playing the Huskies: Nov. 29 in Canton

One strength: Depth. The Pioneers return four of five starters and seven of the top eight scorers, including junior point guard Isiah Elliott (13.2 ppg, 4.3 assists per game).

One weakness: With a 12-15 record against an uneven schedule last year (2-4 against GLIAC teams), there may be an adjustment period before this team contends on a regular basis.

Outlook: This team went into Croy Gym at Findlay a year ago Thursday and won. How big is that? No GLIAC team has won there since 2004. They played at Southern Indiana and a neutral-site game against then No. 1 Bellarmine, too. They'll steal some wins, for sure.

8. Ohio Dominican

Record: 4-22, 1-18 GLIAC, 7th South

Last Year vs. Tech: Lost 74-36 in Houghton

Playing the Huskies: Dec. 13 in Delaware, Ohio

One strength: A bitter taste. This team was just plain bad last year, as evidenced by a stinkbomb at the SDC in which they trailed 43-13 at halftime. After one win in GLIAC play last year (the season finale against Tiffin), you'd think they'd be hungry.

One weakness: There's quite a few. ODU finished last in the league in several statistical categories, including: scoring offense, scoring margin (minus-12.9), field-goal percentage defense and 3-pointers made.

Outlook: Nowhere to go but up for this program. ODU already beat Great Lakes Valley Conference member McKendree last weekend, so perhaps some progress is being made.



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