Top Dogs

Bulldogs head into season with raised expectations, preseason Player of the Year

With a veteran lineup including the National Preseason Player of the Year, the Bulldogs are looking to take the next step to making their way into the NCAA Tournament.

After last season’s 16-13 campaign that ended with the Bulldogs making their fifth trip to the GLIAC Tournament in the last six seasons, the team is entering the 2010-11 season with some raised expectations under ninth-year head coach Bill Sall.

With a starting lineup that returns four starters, including GLIAC North Division Preseason All-Conference Second Team member senior guard Darien Gay, the Bulldogs have gained some national attention. Ferris was named as a possible breakthrough team at the Division II level by The Sporting News and Ferris was also picked to finish second in the GLIAC North Division in the Preseason Media Poll.

But the one player that has received the most attention heading into this season has been senior center Justin Keenan, who was named as the Division II Bulletin Preseason National Player of the Year and the GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year heading into this season.

“Keenan is someone that has really taken the next step in his game and has really become a leader for us,” said Sall. “He has really worked hard to achieve all that he has and he really makes us powerful on offense.”

Though the team will rely on Keenan to help lead the Bulldogs this season, the Bulldogs know that it will take a whole team effort to be successful this season.

“Justin is an important part of this team, but we know that one person can’t win us games,” said sophomore forward Daniel Sutherlin. “We win as a team and we lose as a team.”

While the team will rely on its veteran starting lineup, with guys like junior guard Dontae Molden and senior forward Matt DeHart returning, the Bulldogs will look to some transfer students to come off the bench and give the team some options.

“I really think that our bench gets overlooked in this conference,” said Sutherlin. “On any given night, our bench can come in and give us some quality minutes and give us a strong defensive presence as well.”

Among the bench players that Ferris will rely on, Sall is looking to a pair of transfer students to help the starters.

“I really think a guy like Jerrell Sanders is going to come in and help take the pressure off of Keenan,” said Sall. “I also think that Kenny Brown is a guy that is going to come in off the bench and give our offense a pick up when we need it.”

Sanders averaged 10.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game while playing forward at Gannon University in Pennsylvania in 2008-09 and Brown averaged 6 points per game at Augustana College in Illinois last season.

With a solid team and raised expectations, the Bulldogs know that with higher expectations comes with the pressure of meeting those expectations.

“We would be remised if we’re not in a position to win a GLIAC championship at the end of the year and if we can’t take the next step and make it to the NCAA Tournament,” said Sall. “With the lineup that we have this year, we’ve got some expectations to meet and I think the guys wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The Bulldogs will begin the regular season at home on Nov. 13 with a matchup against Calvin College, which is Sall’s alma mater. Tipoff is set for
7:30 p.m. n