Familiar faces

Bulldogs face former coach for first time

In the midst of an integral road stretch, Ferris State will travel to Northern Michigan to face Bill Sall for the first time since his departure.

The Bulldogs (6-6) are currently in the middle of a four-game road trip, with two games left to round out the stretch. Ferris will travel to Michigan Tech (9-3) before heading to Northern Michigan (3-9) in what will be an interesting matchup.

Their matchup with the Wildcats will mark the first time the Andy Bronkema-led Bulldogs will play against the man who coached the team for the previous 11 seasons.

“It’s just like any other game in one aspect, but there’s definitely going to be some weird emotions,” Bronkema said. “It’s going to be a fun reunion. I have all the respect in the world for him and he has helped me out so much, so I wish him all the best of luck, except for in that game.”

Bronkema spent his first five seasons with Ferris State’s coaching staff as an assistant coach under Sall. He was named head coach prior to this season.

Under Sall, Ferris won four division titles and reached the NCAA Division II tournament three times. Following the 2012-13 basketball season, Sall abruptly left Ferris and took the head coaching job at GLIAC North foe Northern Michigan.

“Right now it’s really important for us to stay focused and stay together, and I feel like we have done a good job with both,” sophomore forward Josh Fleming said.

Fleming didn’t really have much to say about seeing Sall again.

“I honestly haven’t thought about it really,” Fleming said. “Every game is of equal importance to me, but it will be interesting to face the coach who recruited me to Ferris.”

Fleming has turned into a higher volume scorer at 10.5 points-per-game, on a Ferris team that is scoring a conference ranked eighth 76.5 ppg. The Bulldogs are also second in the GLIAC in blocks (5.4) and fourth in total rebounds per game (38.8), but are ranked second to last in field goal percentage at 43.5.

Despite the billing that includes Sall, the Bulldogs are focused on their Michigan Tech game for the time being.

“We are taking this season one game at a time, but when it’s time to go up to Northern, we are going to be ready to play and get a tough road win,” sophomore center Jared Stolicker said. “I think we are going to prepare for them just like everyone else; have a good week of practice and come in ready to play.”

Even though the Wildcats are still a game away, many are already feeling the hype surrounding this matchup and the emotions that are likely to run high.

“It’ll be different than any other game to say the least,” Ferris student assistant coach and former Bulldog standout forward, Daniel Sutherlin, said. “Coach Sall has meant so much to this program the last 11 years and to see him on the other side of the court is even still hard to imagine.”

Prior to traveling to Northern Michigan on Jan. 18, Ferris will head to Houghton to face Michigan Tech on Thursday, Jan. 16 at the Berry Events Center. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 pm.