GVSU hires former assistant as head coach

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Athletics

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Athletics

Adam Knorr

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Baseball season may be long over, but Grand Valley State continues to hit home runs.

GVSU athletic director Tim Selgo recently announced the hiring of Mike Williams to fill the void of head women’s basketball coach.

“Number one, he’s a proven successful coach,” Selgo said. “Number two, he’s an outstanding teacher of the game of basketball. That’s of the utmost importance. They must be able to teach their sport. Number three, I know he’s a person of great character and great work ethic.”

Williams, who started coaching at the college level in 1988 with Michigan Tech, has racked up a collegiate head coaching record of 373-155 in 16 years.

His most recent gig was at Davenport University, where he spent four years and led the Panthers to a 130-11 record, including a 32-1 mark in the 2014-15 season.

“It’s bittersweet because I’m leaving a great program and a great bunch of kids and great people,” Williams said. “But I’m moving on to a great situation, with great people and great tradition.”

Williams’ hiring comes after the sudden resignation of eight-year head coach Janel Burgess. Burgess left GVSU with a career 187-84 mark, including a 20-8 record in her final season.

Williams spent five seasons as an assistant coach at GVSU from 2002-07. The Lakers went 117-39 during his tenure on the staff, including a 33-3 mark and a national championship in 2005-06.

In a rare coaching perk, Williams will be able to stay in his current home and cut down his commute to work. The Williams family resides in Jenison, a mere four miles from the Allendale Campus.

For Selgo, Williams was especially attractive due to his GVSU connection, success and experience with Division II athletics.

“In Division II you have to be very humble. You have to work hard because you have to go the extra mile if you want to be successful,” Selgo said. “You can’t solve problems by throwing money on them. You have to go be creative, go to work and do things in a first-class successful way.”

Williams is taking over an experienced team that posted a 16-6 conference record and features three seniors and seven juniors for the 2015-16 squad.

The Lakers will return four of five starters from last year’s team, missing only sharpshooting guard Kat LaPrairie.

Brionna Barnett (15.8 ppg) and Kayla Dawson (12.4 ppg) will be looked to again to handle the scoring load, while Piper Tucker (9.5 ppg/5.6 rpg) will be GVSU’s main threat in the post.

Returning role players from the 2014-15 squad include senior Jammie Botruff, juniors Taylor Lutz and Janae Langs and sophomore Korynn Hincka.

GVSU will also get a boost in the paint due to the return of 6-foot-1 center Jill Steinmetz who missed all of last season with an injury.

With the centerpieces in place, Williams won’t look to turn the program on its head. Rather, he will make tweaks and adjustments to improve upon the already successful machine.

“I had a chance to take over a program four years ago at Davenport that was really, really good,” Williams said. “I didn’t come in and recreate the wheel. I just made some subtle chances and found out what was working and I stayed with it.

“I think it’s the same thing here. These players are used to a lot of things they did last year which was good and I’m going to try to stay with some of that stuff and see where we need some subtle changes to make it better.”

The Lakers will tip off their season at the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge with a battle against Truman State in Quincy, Illinois on Nov. 14.