GV hangs with Division I Iowa State in exhibition loss

GVL Archive
Junior Breland Hogan plays defense during a past match up

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Junior Breland Hogan plays defense during a past match up

Brady Fredericksen

After returning to the school where his coaching career got off the ground, Grand Valley State University men’s basketball head coach Ric Wesley saw his team perform a little rockier at Iowa State University than they had hoped.

The Lakers fell 77-62 in their first and only exhibition game of the year against the Cyclones. Playing at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, GVSU was led by its backcourt with senior shooting guard James Thomas scoring a team-high 16 points and junior point guard Breland Hogan added 13 for the Lakers.

“I thought it was exciting, a great atmosphere and great place to play at,” said Wesley, who was an assistant coach for 14 seasons under Johnny Orr at Iowa State. “In the game itself, we got off to a little bit of a tough start, but we continued to battle the whole way. I thought our veteran guys showed why they’re vets and new guys showed why they need experience.”

After falling behind 20-9 to start the game, GVSU recovered, cutting the score to 24-20 midway through the first half. Iowa State was led by the play of guard Melvin Ejim and University of Minnesota transfer Royce White.

Ejim gave the GVSU defense fits all game long, scoring 14 points in the half and 26 in the game.

On top of their defense, the Lakers also saw their offense ignite in the second half. After being held to only five points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first half, senior guard James Thomas led the charge in the second with 12 points, including 3-of-5 from three-point range.

“This is a good game for us to start on, and now we know what we need to work on and everyone knows their role,” Thomas said. “I think this kind of game gave us an eye opener to what we need to go to practice and work on.”

“They’ve got a really unique team in that, the guy who handles the ball a lot for them is their power forward or center,” Wesley said. “Royce White is sort of their primary ball handler, so that’s a different situation for our big players.”

White’s play was a big reason for the Cyclone’s pulling away in the second half. The big man put together a balanced game against the Lakers’ front court, scoring 14 points while grabbing seven rebounds, dishing three assists and three blocks.

Despite the loss, the Lakers showed progress in the second half and the homecoming something special for Wesley.

“That was awesome. Their head coach (former NBA guard Fred Hoiberg) is one of my former players, and his wife is one of our former babysitters,” Wesley said. “There were lots of friends and people that I knew were there and a lot of good wishes. It was a great trip, and the guys enjoyed the experience.”

That experience was something Wesley’s teams have gotten in previous seasons. The team lost at the University of Dayton last year, and in 2008 defeated Michigan State University. Hogan said that experience is fun and helpful for the players.

“I think we adapted real well, and the main thing with our guys is we may not be the most finely-tuned team, but we play hard,” said Hogan, who led the Lakers with four assists. “It’s good experience to go out there and get a good feel for that level of competition. It’s just a fun opportunity for us.”

That level of competition isn’t something the Lakers will face once their regular season starts, but with a impending match up against defending Division II National Champion Bellarmine University on Nov. 19, the Lakers will look to sharpen their game in preparation for the regular-season, which begins on Nov. 16 against the University of Michigan-Dearborn at Fieldhouse Arena.

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