Bulldog basketball prepares for season

Ferris State Men’s basketball is back at it as practice and preparations for the 2015-16 campaign begins.  Ferris State hosted some former Bulldogs in Wink Arena last Friday, as the team’s annual Alumni Game was held to kick off a slew of upcoming exhibition games.

“It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I’m so proud of all of these guys that come back, because they’re legends around here,” Head Coach of Ferris State’s men’s basketball team Andy Bronkema said. “I caught myself smiling a lot today. We put a lot of time and hard work into these guys over they years, so to catch up on their lives and success is really a pleasure.”

The Bulldogs are ready to pick up where they left off last year. Last season, the Bulldogs won the GLIAC Tournament Championship in an 87-82 victory at Lake Superior State, marking their second tournament win since the 97-98 season.  Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were knocked out of the first round of the NCAA tournament to rival Lake Superior State in an overtime loss 78-69.

Two starters for the Bulldogs, Drew Lehman and Dietrich Lever, both graduated this past May, but senior wing Josh Fleming understands the expectations that the fans have for this team. “We lost some good veterans last year but I think this year we have more size and more athleticism. We will probably be a little bit better on the boards and the defensive end,” Fleming said.

The Bulldogs are returning nine players that know and understand the winning mentality and offensive and defensive schemes Bronkema is incorporating within this team.

“It will be really helpful having a lot of people who already know the system because we can help the newer guys who don’t know the system well,” Fleming said.

Senior center Jared Stolicker realizes that with this being his last year as well, his experience, knowledge and hard work is essential to this season being a success, especially knowing that last year’s leading scorer Drew Lehman is gone.

“Over the summer and throughout this preseason I’ve worked a lot on scoring and my post moves. Losing Drew is a big loss and people need to step up and score a little bit more,” Stolicker said.

The staff has brought in three junior college transfers that will help impact how this season goes. When deciding where to transfer, junior guard Quentin Ruff, a transfer from Olive-Harvey College, felt that Ferris was the right place for him to continue his college basketball career.

“I chose Ferris because during my recruiting process I kind of had a feeling of who was interested in me and Ferris showed me love my whole season and when I came down during my visit, I felt a part of the team already,” Ruff said.

Ruff and the rest of the newcomers will have their chance at cracking the starting lineup. Bronkema insists that the depth chart is not set yet, so everybody has a shot at earning minutes.

“Well nothing right now is solidified, so we’re still evaluating and tonight gave us a lot to look at,” Bronkema said. “All of our guys have really bright futures, but there are a few guys really trying to get into the rotation so this offers us a great opportunity to see them in a new venue.”

The Bulldogs will be tested early as they have two tough exhibition games to start the season. The Dawgs play Central Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 7 and Michigan State on Monday, Nov. 9. Both games are away.

“This is my last go around and I want to make this last year memorable,” Stolicker said.

Scheduling tough games like this shows that this is definitely going to be a year to be remembered.

The Bulldogs first home game will be Saturday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. against St. Joseph’s (Ind.).