FSU Mens basketball team up for a challenge

Ferris men set to take on tough Findlay squad

BIG RAPIDS — For Ferris State men’s basketball coach Andy Bronkema, when he looks at his Bulldog squad that’s in the midst of a five-game winning streak, he sees a team that’s starting to learn what it takes to win.

POST UP: Bulldog forward Drew Lehman (right) fights for position in a game earlier this season against Cornerstone University. (Pioneer file photo)

POST UP: Bulldog forward Drew Lehman (right) fights for position in a game earlier this season against Cornerstone University. (Pioneer file photo)

Ferris State (5-3, 4-0 GLIAC) will put those lessons to the test today when the Bulldogs host the 12th-ranked Findlay Oilers (7-1, 3-1 GLIAC) in GLIAC action at Jim Wink Arena at 8 p.m.

After ending a perfect December with a 96-75 home victory against Cornerstone on Dec. 21 before heading off for holiday break, the Bulldogs are ready to test themselves against one of the premier men’s basketball programs in Division II.

“The guys came back from break and we’ve had two good days of practice,” Bronkema said. “It’s been a while since we’ve beat (Findlay). Findlay is the class of the league. They have the most trophies, the most records, the most everything. It’s a team that everyone in the league tries to model themselves after.”

The Oilers have been one of the most successful teams in Division II for the last 13 years. They’ve compiled the second-best winning percentage in Division II since 2000, having won 339 games and losing only 74 for a winning percentage of .820.

Findlay also has been a force in the NCAA Tournament as it made the Elite 8 in 2005, appeared in the Sweet 16 in 2008 and won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2009 with a perfect 36-0 record.

On top of that, the Oilers have been a thorn in the Bulldogs’ side with a 19-5 all-time record against Ferris State, with the most recent matchup between the two teams being a 62-55 victory for the Oilers in the first round of last year’s GLIAC Tournament.

While the Bulldogs will have a tough test on their hands with a team that is second in the GLIAC in both scoring offense (91.6 ppg) and scoring defense (71.5 ppg), Bronkema said the Bulldogs are excited for the chance to face the Oilers at Jim Wink Arena, where the Bulldogs are a perfect 3-0 so far this season.

“It’s going to be a tough test, but we’re excited for the opportunity to play a team like Findlay,” he said. “We have guys that enjoy a good challenge and they are very competitive, so this will be a great test for us and we’re excited for the opportunity.”

It will take a full-team effort to come out with a win tonight, but that’s the way the Bulldogs want it as Bronkema said all of his players have embraced his team-first approach so far this season, with five players scoring an average of nine or more points per game coming into tonight’s game.

“It’s really been a true team effort,” he said. “It’s such a group effort that I’d hate to single out one person for playing well because they’ve all played well.

“Some guys have seen their roles expand, but everyone’s been contributing,” he continued. “You look at a guy like Dan Chilcote, who came in off the bench in the Cornerstone game and gave us 10 points and hit two big 3-pointers, and that’s the kind of thing that’s a shot of adrenaline for your whole team. “

That selfless mentality has helped the Bulldogs learn what it takes to win, and Bronkema hopes those lessons will translate to tonight’s game.

“I think the biggest thing the guys have learned during this winning streak is they’ve learned how hard you have to play if you want to win,” he said. “We’ll take that knowledge and we’ll use it to play as hard as we can (tonight) and we’ll try to come out with a victory against a very good team.”


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