Rivalry revisited at Van Andel Arena

GVL Archive / Nicole Lamson
Junior Alvin Storrs drives to the basket surrounded by opponents durnig a past game

GVL Archive / Nicole Lamson Junior Alvin Storrs drives to the basket surrounded by opponents durnig a past game

Derek Wolff

After more than a year of planning, the Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s basketball teams will play archrival Ferris State University Saturday at the Van Andel Arena in the 131 Showdown, presented by Amway.

The Lakers and Bulldogs will meet for the first time this season with the Lakers serving as the home team despite the neutral nature of the site. While this is the first time the rivals have met away from their respective Allendale or Big Rapids homes in a regular season matchup, the plan to host a game at Van Andel had been on GVSU Athletic Director Tim Selgo’s mind for a few years.

“We were looking for an opportunity to get a Grand Valley State athletic event in downtown Grand Rapids,” he said. “With an incredible venue in Van Andel Arena available, it seemed like a natural fit that we have West Michigan rivals Grand Valley State and Ferris State meet in the 131 Showdown.”

While the press conference for the Showdown was held on Oct. 20 last year, the planning for the event started in late 2009. The conference nature of the matchup and the date became crucial parts in the Showdown turning from an idea into a reality.

“We were looking for a weekend game in early February and, given the nature of the conference schedule, things just seemed to work out,” Selgo said. “It’s a great rivalry between two great universities that I’ve enjoyed being a part of.”

The traditional setup at Van Andel Arena – an ice rink for the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games – will morph into a hardwood court. The Detroit Pistons have played exhibition games at Van Andel for pre-season play in seasons past.

If the opportunity to play division rival Ferris State in front of potentially thousands of people at Van Andel Arena was not enough, the game will pit two of the best GLIAC North Division teams against each other.

The men’s game will pit the division-leading Lakers (15-3, 10-1 GLIAC) against the second-place Bulldogs (13-5, 9-2 GLIAC). The women’s game features a close match as well, with the Lakers (13-4, 7-4 GLIAC) trying to make up ground on division leaders Michigan Technological University and Lake Superior State University. Hot on the Lakers’ heels, Ferris State comes in fourth place in the North Division standings.

GVSU men’s head coach Ric Wesley said the game will be crucial despite the fun atmosphere of the setting.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to play in the game,” Wesley said. “It’s very important with regards to league standings as well as the rivalry with Ferris, and it really should be a special event being downtown in Grand Rapids.”

GVSU women’s head coach Janel Burgess said her team will take everything in stride and enjoy the atmosphere while they take on a good conference opponent in Ferris State.

“We’re really excited to host the event and play downtown at a great venue against our archrival in Ferris,” Burgess said. “It’s an excellent chance for our team to display their hearts and passion for the game.”

Tip off for the women’s game is at 6 p.m. while the men tip off at 8 p.m. Tickets for the 131 Showdown are $15 for lower bowl seats and $10 for upper bowl seats. Courtside seats are selling for $50 per seat and can be purchased in pairs through the GVSU ticket office at (616) 331-3200.

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