GVSU men’s basketball wins season opener by double digits

GVL+%2F+Katherine+Vasile
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GVSU men’s basketball wins season opener by double digits

GVL / Katherine Vasile

GVL / Katherine Vasile

GVL / Katherine Vasile

GVL / Katherine Vasile

Zack Goodrow, Staff Reporter

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The Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team improved to 1-0 this weekend, as they won their season opener, 69-56, against the Alderson Broaddus University Battlers (0-1). GVSU held the lead for the majority of the game by double digits. The Lakers were led by junior Jake Van Tubbergen in scoring with 21 points, and led both teams on the boards with 16 rebounds. 

“(The Battlers) had some bigger guys that we needed to box out or they were going to crash the glass and get extra possessions,” Van Tubbergen said.  “That was one of the big things we emphasized going into the game: beating them on the glass. I took that upon myself while I was guarding the bigger guys.”

GVSU beat Alderson Broaddus playing strong defense, forcing 11 turnovers and limiting the Battlers to 32.8 percent on field goals from the floor. The Lakers’ impenetrable defense and ability to close out on shooters on the perimeter constrained the Battlers to making six of 19  shots behind the arc. In the paint, the Lakers defense contested shots and didn’t allow any easy baskets by the rim.   

“(Alderson Broaddus) shot a lot of threes, a unique style, which always catches you a little bit off guard,” said GVSU coach Ric Wesley. “They only had nine points inside the paint and our defense was pretty good. We protected the basket pretty well.”

On the offensive side of the ball, however, the Lakers weren’t as sharp. In the first half of the contest, the Lakers played very fast, which led to some turnovers and bad shot selection.

GVL / Katherine Vasile

That changed in the second half, as GVSU slowed the offensive tempo and played more efficiently, leading to more assists and more open shots. Senior guard Jeremiah Ferguson was the biggest factor in slowing the tempo in the second half, finishing the game with 13 points and four assists. Ferguson was also impressive behind the arc for Grand Valley, making two tough 3-pointers. 

Junior forward Christian Negron had an impressive performance in the paint and rebounding. His four offensive rebounds led both teams and was an enormous factor to the Lakers’ early lead. 

“I thought Christian Negron was good,” Wesley said. “He was tough going to the bucket and tipping balls in. His four offensive rebounds were huge for us.” 

Senior guard Jayden Hodgson was the leader on the court for the Lakers. He was consistently chattering with his teammates during breaks and echoing adjustments after defensive breakdowns. His tenacious defense and rushing on transition after defensive rebounds led to his seven points, five rebounds and three assists.   

While GVSU did get the victory, it was only the first game of the young season. There were bad shot selections in the beginning of the game and the offense struggled to get good shots up. However, the defense and tempo pushing the ball of the floor on transitions led to early baskets to get out to an early lead.

“I’m happy we won the first game, but it wasn’t a thing of beauty,” Wesley said. “It felt like a first game, neither team was consistently sharp. It felt like at times conditioning was a variable. Sometimes it felt like we were running in the mud out there. But we’re happy we got through it.” 

GVSU plays two games next week. On Thursday Nov. 14, they face the Truman State Bulldogs in Allendale. The team will then travel to Indianapolis to play the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds. The team is looking to improve on many aspects of their play in these early games of the season.  

“We’re hoping to improve on everything before the next game and throughout the season,” Wesley said. “Offensively it’s pretty simple to improve, just having the ball moving and people moving. We’re moving and passing and we’ve got enough weapons in the game to where it should come pretty easily. Defensively, especially early in the season, we don’t know what we’re going to face. We’ve got to be adaptable in the game and keep communicating. It takes trust and experience being in these situations.”