Ferris State hoops prepares for Barry

The Ferris State basketball team is 35-1 heading into Elite Eight play next week. (Photo courtesy of Ferris State Athletics)

BIG RAPIDS — After clinching an NCAA Division II Midwest Regional title on Tuesday night, the Ferris State Men’s basketball team went back to work.

The Bulldogs participated in team practice Friday afternoon before heading to Sioux Falls, South Dakota this weekend to prepare for their Elite Eight showdown with Barry (Fla.). The stage will be new, but the Bulldogs will stick to their routine.

“Our preparation stays the same,” head coach Andy Bronkema said. “We’re going to do what got us here. We’re going to keep things same.

“You draw on everything you’ve done in the past to give you experience and a blueprint for how to do things. I imagine these games are going to be a little bit different. We’ll have to figure it out on the fly and see if we can’t finish them off and win them.”

The Bulldogs are riding a 23-game win streak into Tuesday’s matchup with Barry. Even so, the team believes that there’s another gear they have yet to reach.

“We can always play better,” junior Zach Hankins said. “Hopefully, we can peak at the championship game. We can always keep growing.”

The Bulldogs enter the Elite Eight as the No. 1 seed. Most would consider Ferris State the favorite, but the team has a different mindset.

“We know we are the target,” Hankins said. “But we still think of ourselves as the underdog. We feel like we have a lot to gain rather than everything to lose.”

“It’s been the same as all year,” Bronkema said. “The target was on our backs this year. We embraced that and we did well.”

Anything can happen in a high-stakes tournament. But the Bulldogs are confident they have what it takes to win it all.

“As a coach, you say ‘this is our year’ every year,” Bronkema said. “We knew entering the season that our roster was built well and we were prepared to make a run. You always are, but this year worked out because of the work we’ve put in and the depth with our roster.

“We’ve won a lot of games and I think it will continue into the Elite Eight. But winning is not a right and if we don’t play well, we’ll lose.”

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