National spotlight reaches Ferris

Basketball teams will get a chance to impress on a big-time stage

The Ferris men’s and women’s basketball teams will hog the spotlight in their first ever live national broadcast from Jim Wink Arena.

Both men’s and women’s games against Ashland will be televised live on ESPN3 and the ESPN app across the country for the NCAA Division II National “Game of the Week” Thursday, Feb. 7.

A benefit to both the players and schools involved, this opportunity allows the chance for these programs to earn some national exposure, something both schools lack as primarily Division II universities.

“We’re certainly honored,” Ferris head coach Kendra Faustin said. “I think it’s an amazing thing for Ferris State. Not just Ferris State athletics, not just women’s basketball and not just men’s basketball. To have that national exposure, it’s a great showcase of what a great campus we have and what great students we have and all the cool things we’re doing here.”

These games are a part of a larger encompassing media agreement between ESPN and Division II basketball and football. According to the Ferris Athletics website, 18 games will stream on ESPN3 and the ESPN app, and the division is working to get more TV partners to stream participating conferences’ games on television.

This is a new experience for the women’s basketball team, and the coach and players even express as much, but they don’t think that the promotion will make much of a difference come game time. In fact, they don’t think it’ll really affect their nerves either.

“There’s not really a way to play not being nervous,” Ferris senior guard Alexis Bush said. “You just got to go in there and play your game and not worry about anything else.”

This is certainly nothing new for the majority of the players on the men’s side. Many of the team’s players have experienced a national audience, having been broadcasted on CBS with millions of viewers for last year’s National Championship Game.

In that game, the men’s basketball team offered Ferris the best national exposure possible by winning the title, defeating Northern State 71-69.

The matchups will be no easy task, as both Ashland’s men’s and women’s teams currently sit with but one loss apiece.

Ashland’s women’s team, who reached their national title game last season, is 18-1 and ranked fifth in the Division II coaches poll. They lead the GLIAC with a 10-1 conference record. The men, meanwhile, also sit at 18-1 and lead the GLIAC standings with a 10-1 conference record. They are ranked seventh in the coaches poll.

Ferris enters the game with the men’s team currently 15-7 and on a four game winning streak, catapulting them to first place in the GLIAC North Division with a 7-4 conference record.

The Ferris women’s team is on their own three-game winning streak, pushing their record to 10-7 and 7-4 in conference play, good for third in the GLIAC North Division.

With both schools competing at such a high level, Ferris senior point guard DeShaun Thrower believes the games will be fun.

“It’s real fun, especially with a game like Ashland. They’re the team,” Thrower said. “They’re first in the conference overall in the GLIAC, and just having the experience of playing against them and competing against them on ESPN3 is lit.”

For those who want to tune in, the women’s game tips off at 5:30 p.m., and the men’s begins at 7:30 p.m. Both may be streamed online at ESPN3 and on the ESPN app. Students can access the game for free on computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational broadband networks according to Ferris Athletics.