Next man up

Ferris State men’s basketball prepares to begin conference play

The Ferris men’s basketball team has found early success despite having to fill empty spots on their roster following the loss of last year’s seniors.

After losing key players in Jared Stolicker, Jibreel Jackson, James Chappell and Josh Fleming to graduation in the offseason, Head Coach Andy Bronkema has found comfort in solid play from his young roster.

“That’s the beauty of the ‘next man up’ system,” Bronkema said. “While it’s hard to lose talented players, it’s a great chance for the younger guys who are developing to take their game to the next level.”

Make no mistake, Bronkema’s “next man up” system has worked as starters and role-players alike have found success on the court.

Junior guard Drew Cushingberry has played an unselfish brand of basketball and currently leads his team with 13 assists.

Also playing well for the Dawgs is sophomore center Zach Hankins. Hankins, a redshirt freshman last season, has been a terror for opposing teams in the paint. To this point, Hankins leads the Bulldogs with 51 rebounds, 97 points and 11 blocks.

“There’s certain things that we need from our guys for us to win” Bronkema said. “Drew Cushingberry gives us stability and flow within our team. Zach Hankins is a good low-post presence for us. The team is really built around the fact that any player can step up on any given night.”

The young players have done a great job filling the holes on the roster and giving Ferris fans an optimistic look at the team’s future.

Players such as sophomore Markese Mayfield, freshman Cole Walker and freshman guard Greg Williams have given the team valuable minutes off the bench. Mayfield has shown flashes of starter potential, scoring 47 points through five games which is good enough for third on the team.

Whether the starters or role players are finding success matters not as the Bulldogs have battled their way to a 4-1 record to start the season.

Bulldog fans can see the men’s basketball team in action as they open conference play 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, against Ohio Dominican at Big Rapids High School.