The Sultan of Swat: Christian Negron anchors the defense for GVSU Basketball


Kellen Voss, Sports Editor

The Sultan of Swat: Christian Negron anchors the defense for GVSU basketball

By Kellen Voss ([email protected])

In 2005, Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs had a career year. He finished the year third in the NL MVP voting after amassing 199 hits, 46 homeruns and a slugging percentage of .662, essentially slapping baseballs all over Wrigley Field.

It was around that time that Christian Negron of the Grand Valley State men’s basketball fell in love with the Cubs, as after his Dad took him to Wrigley, he fell in love with the lovable losers.

“When I was about 5 or 6, my Dad took me to a game, and I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole life,” Negron said. “I’ve been with them through thick and thin, even when they were worst in the NL Central. Obviously, I was one of the biggest supporters during the 2016 World Series run.”

Much like Lee swatting away incoming fastballs with his bat, in the Laker defense, Negron’s role is to secure the middle of the paint, protect the basket, and swat away incoming lay-up attempts against GLIAC opponents who try to drive at him.

“With my length and my size playing the ‘five’ position, I try to be a versatile defender,” Negron said. “I do a lot of things, but mostly I’m just trying to protect the rim. Every once in a while, a guy will slip inside and I’m the last line of defense, so I try to contest and put as much pressure on the defense as I can.”

Negron doesn’t just lead the Lakers with an average of 2.7 blocks per game; with that mark, he leads the entire GLIAC, tallying 0.5 blocks more than the second place player.

Negron has had a number of dominant defensive performances, but he tends to turn it up against GLIAC opponents.

He posted a season-high seven blocks against Purdue Northwest on Jan. 11 before tallying four blocks in the Jan. 23 overtime win against Michigan Tech, with three of the blocks coming in either the last minute of regulation or in the overtime period.

For a young big man who is still learning about how to play defense while protecting the paint, Negron stresses the importance of timing for a good block.

“It’s a feel,” Negron said. “The more you contest, the more you get a feel for it, the better you’ll be with timing and developing a rhythm.”

When asked if Negron’s favorite play in basketball is a block that ignites the energy of the crowd, it was hard for him to decide between the defensive play and the dunk.

Walk into the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena for a Laker basketball game, and it’s likely you’ll see a few dunks per game from Negron. This is partially why he also leads the GLIAC with an efficient field goal percentage of .635.

“(Blocks) are definitely up there,” Negron said. “Dunks are fun too, but it’s definitely satisfying getting a big-time block too, especially when your teammates turn around and are pumping you up too.”

Before transferring to GVSU for the 2019-20 season, Negron played two years with Loyola Chicago. Averaging 5.7 minutes per game, 1.6 ppg, 1.5 rpg and only 0.1 blocks per game, Negron was a role player on the 2017-18 team that made a Final Four run before losing to the Michigan Wolverines.

With his increased role at GVSU, Negron has blossomed as a primary defender, while rolling hard to the rim on offense and being on the receiving end of some thunderous alley-oops.

Negron and the Lakers will look to batten down the hatches and lock up on defense this week, as they have a key road trip to the Upper Peninsula, where they will face Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech and have the chance to lock down the No.1 seed in the GLIAC tournament.

“I’ve been talking to the guys that have been in the program for a while, and they said it’s the toughest trip of the year,” Negron said. “I think we’re preparing well though, I like our chances, I like our team. If we are who we say we are, we should go up there and take care of business.”