Jake Van Tubbergen and GVSU basketball prepare for a successful season

Jake Van Tubbergen scans the court at the game vs Ashland on February 15th, 2018. GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Jake Van Tubbergen scans the court at the game vs Ashland on February 15th, 2018. GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Kellen Voss

As students around campus bust out their winter coats, the best time of year comes upon us. The start of the Grand Valley State basketball season is finally here, and the 2018-19 team is prepared to rule the GLIAC.

The path to success for GVSU will be lead by sophomore Jake Van Tubbergen, who was recently named to the preseason All-GLIAC South Division team. This isn’t the first prestigious GLIAC honor that Van Tubbergen has earned, being that he is the reigning GLIAC Freshmen of the Year and a former second team All-GLIAC nominee.

“It’s a good reward for the work we put in, and the coaches do a good job of getting me in here, working me out and coming up with a good plan,” Van Tubbergen said. “I had a little success right here, but we want to play hungry and continue to build on that.”

Van Tubbergen, along with the leadership of seniors Justin Greason and Zach West, looks to improve upon last season, as the team finished 14-15 overall and lost in the first round of the GLIAC tournament to Lake Superior State, 65-73.

Many talented transfers, such as Isaiah Brock, Jeremiah Ferguson and Demetrius Lake can help the team improve upon that record, and Van Tubbergen is prepared to help reach that, despite expectations for the West Ottawa High School alum being higher than ever before.

“I try not to look at expectations like that,” Van Tubbergen said. “I have my goals that I want to achieve, but ultimately it’s a team sport, and we just want to get the highest achievements possible.”

These transfers, along with another year of experience for players like Van Tubbergen, can help this team reach its full potential and make some noise in the GLIAC come February 2019.

“We added some nice pieces in the off-season, with a couple of transfers and a couple hard-working freshmen,” Van Tubbergen said. “Along with a lot of experienced starters, we could have a special year.”

Head coach Ric Wesley credits Van Tubbergen’s recent success in Allendale to the work he has put in, and is excited to see him play with his newfound confidence.

“I don’t think people recognized the talent he had, since he worked so hard in the off-season,” Wesley said. “I think he’s a bigger, stronger version of what he was last year, and with a year under his belt he’s got a little more confidence. Expectations are certainly high for him, but he has the ability to live up to that.”

Just like any other off-season for the Lakers, Wesley had the team focus on getting stronger, putting in countless hours of work in the weight room that will hopefully pay off on the hardwood.

“We try to be a bigger, stronger version of ourselves, and I think our guys have worked hard with the help of our strength coach Mark (Stessner),” Wesley said. “Through that training, you certainly hope you build some greater chemistry and camaraderie as you’re putting in the work.”

No team in the GLIAC this season is a safe bet to win the conference, as every team seems to be mostly even heading into the season. That league parity gives the Lakers a chance to contend and make a postseason run. 

“The parity in our conference is unbelievable, the difference between being second and eighth is about one or two games,” Wesley said. “We certainly hope we’ll be better, we lost some good players, but added some veteran guys, and as they start to understand our offense and fit in, I think we got a chance to contend.”

That path to contention starts on Saturday, Nov. 10 as the Lakers start off their season in West Virginia to play the Alderson Broaddus Battlers. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.