Ferris men’s basketball has dominated the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) for the past few years alongside Lake Superior State University (LSSU), but this season things have shifted in the conference.
The GLIAC has been run by primarily Ferris and LSSU in recent seasons, and they have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the North division the past two years. LSSU was the only team that beat Ferris all through last year. Going into the 2018—19 season as the defending National Champions, it would have seemed that it may be another season of dominating the GLIAC. However, things have completely changed since the final game of last season.
Recovering well from a rocky start, Ferris is 6-4 in conference play, where there is a three-way tie for first in the North Division shared with LSSU and Wisconsin-Parkside. Parkside, who just switched over to the GLIAC, has seen Ferris before and was 1-1 in the past two years before entering Saturday’s game.
“This year it’s wide open. That’s why we’re sitting at 4-4 in the conference and we’re not out of it by any means,” Ferris junior wing Greg Williams said before their conference wins last week. “A lot of weird stuff is happening, people are losing games, winning games that maybe they shouldn’t. It’s kind of just a crazy conference this year, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s spontaneous and it’s up for grabs.”
The Ashland Eagles are atop of the conference with only one GLIAC loss. Ashland was not the favorite to win the GLIAC but they are inching closer to doing so and Ferris mens’ basketball head coach Andy Bronkema saw no surprise with what has happened this season.
“I never saw any of those teams as being very far out from being right there, so it’s kind of the same to me to tell you the truth,” Bronkema said. “You know now it’s just a little bit more packed together in the middle. Ashland’s been an incredible team for a number of years just like I said — lost a couple of games by one instead of winning by one. At the end of the day the win-loss column doesn’t say how close the games were, that sort of thing. So, I don’t really think it’s too much different.”
Even though Ashland is in first with a conference record of 9-1, each team still has ten conference games left, which means no team has anything secured and anything can happen to that number one spot in the next month and a half. The Bulldogs have found their footing a little bit late into the season and look to keep it that way.
“As a team, I think that we’re just still trying to figure it out,” Williams said. “Past few games we’ve done really well on the defensive end which was a struggle in the beginning so that’s kind of what we’re trying to make our identity, being a team that can defend because when we’re hot and hitting shots I don’t think many people can beat us.”
The Bulldogs continue GLIAC play as they will face LSSU at home 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, for a chance to claim first in the North Division.