Lakers look to new, old faces in upcoming season

GVL/ Rane Martin
Lakers Vs University of Michigan-Dearborn

Rane Martin

GVL/ Rane Martin Lakers Vs University of Michigan-Dearborn

Brady Fredericksen

After a strong start to the season, a rash of injuries and inconsistent play led the team to a 5-5 finish down the stretch, denying the Lakers an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since the 2004-05 season.

Fast forward to this season, and the Lakers have an entirely new look. Gone is senior All-American forward Justin Ringler, who led the team in points, rebounds and assists last season.

Also gone are Alvin Storrs, Wes Trammel, Nick Carreri and Asauhn Tatum, four of GVSU head coach Ric Wesley’s main rotation players last season. Storrs left the team at the end of last season, Tatum transferred to Chattahoochee Technical College in Georgia, and Trammel and Carreri, both seniors, unexpectedly left the team this summer.

“We’ve had a tough, certainly interesting, offseason,” said Wesley, who lost three players to graduation, one to transfer and four others voluntarily. “We had some guys decide they didn’t want to play, which is sort of normal, but we had some guys let us down by deciding so late in the summer, which is really disappointing that they would do that to us.”

Despite the personnel losses, the Lakers will bring a young and athletic team to the court this season. With seven new players, the always-important depth and chemistry factors will be tested, but as junior guard Tony Peters said, chemistry between teammates has been a smooth transition.

“I think it’s coming along just fine,” said Peters, who averaged six points per game last season. “It is a lot different because of the new faces, but we’ve had plenty of time to practice. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve also come a long way.”

The team gauged that progress in a preseason exhibition game against Iowa State University last week. Although the Lakers fell 77-62 to the Cyclones, they saw where they were and where they needed to go from there.

“The guys that are returning have really pulled together, and I think we have a pretty good group of veterans that are very close,” Wesley said. “We have good team chemistry, so we might not have quite the luxury we’ve had in terms of depth and veterans, but at the same time, I think our chemistry and our commitment will be better.”

Chemistry is an important factor for any athletic team, and the Lakers have said they feel comfortable with where they’re at in that regard. Newcomers like junior transfers Tyrone Lee, who is expected to start in the place of the departed Ringler, and Josh Anderson, the son of former NBA player Nick Anderson, will look to fit into the rotation in the same way seniors Nick Waddle and James Thomas did in the same situation last season.

“One big thing that I like about the newcomers is that we all have the same goal: we want to win,” said Waddell, a center. “We all go hard at practice, and we all go at each other at practice and it shows on the court because we’re all one big family.”

Along with Waddle, who lost almost 30 pounds this offseason, the team brings back a good chunk of its rotation from last season. Senior guard James Thomas, one of the GLIAC’s top shooters last season, will be looked upon to help fill the scoring void along with Peters and senior center Mike Przydzial.

Junior point guard Breland Hogan is also back, and teammates said he has taken on more of a leadership role and is playing as more of a traditional, ball-distributing game.

“We really need him to have a great year for us,” Wesley said. “He’s going on his third year starting, he has worked extremely hard and I think he feels really comfortable in what we do as well as what his role is – I think he’s really ready to have a great season.”

The Lakers opened the season last night with a 94-51 win against the University of Michigan-Dearborn last night and will play one of their toughest games of the year Saturday when defending national champion Bellarmine University visits the Fieldhouse Arena.

“It’s always tough when you play high level teams early in the season, we don’t have the luxury of easing into it and you play them when you play them,” Wesley said. “We’re trying to mix in some old guys with the new ones, so it’s going to be tough, but it’ll be a good opportunity against the defending national champions.”

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