Men’s basketball loses first game of the season against Oakland


Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Ermias Stewart, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University’s men’s basketball team lost their first game of the season on the road against a Division 1 opponent in Oakland University that finished 76-92.

It was also head coach Cornell Mann’s first game, a previous assistant coach for the Golden Grizzlies (2016-17), who noted that it was a humbling experience to be back in his old stomping grounds.

“It felt good to have my family come since I have been gone from the state for so many years,” Mann said.

The Lakers had a shooting performance to forget in the first half as they shot 26.5% from the field overall (9-34), 20% from three and 66.7% from the free throw.

Oakland on the other hand saw better percentages from the field overall (48.3%) and at the free throw line (86.2%) while matching the same three-point percentage as the Lakers.

At the sound of the halftime buzzer, the Golden Grizzlies led the Lakers 30-55, a large deficit to overcome whether on the road or not.

GVSU mustered a far better performance in the second as they outscored Oakland 46-37 on better shooting percentages (51.5% from the field, 50% three-point). However, the scoring efforts were unavailing as the opponent never allowed their tremendous lead to dwindle below 20 points.

Mann commented on the major turnaround from the Lakers and said that most starts to the season will see nerves being a significant factor in how a team performs overall, especially when a roster is on the younger side.

“I think everybody just adjusted and settled down,” Mann said. “Eight of 13 guys were playing their first college game, so it’s fair to say that they had a little bit of jitters.”

Redshirt freshman guard Trevor Smith was one of those eight players mentioned, stating that it was a humbling experience to be back in the city he grew up in.

“It felt great representing Grand Valley, especially playing in my hometown – it was an honor and a blessing,” Smith said.

However, Smith said that he would like to have more influence on how the team performs overall as he struggled to get a basket (0-3) but added five assists and three boards.

“I just need to be more assertive,” Smith said. “I think that we would’ve been more successful if I got downhill more and created more chances for me and my teammates.”

Sophomore guard Trevon Gunter led the team in points with 20 on a solid shooting night (6-10 three-point, 7-12 overall) in 22 minutes. Freshman guard Jalen Charity was the only other Laker to finish in double digits with 12 points (4-5 field goals).

“My teammates did a great job of finding me in open spots, especially in transition,” Gunter said. “Coach always says that ‘shot-ready’ shots go in, so just being shot-ready did the rest.”

Graduate student forward Chinedu Kingsley Okanu added seven points and nine rebounds while junior guard Austin James finished with eight points and two boards.

“At first, we were a little antsy since it was the first game, but we put up a good fight, especially in the second half,” Okanu said, who suited up for his first time ever for the Lakers.

Even with a loss, Mann was pleased to see the team apply what they emphasize on offense but wants to see more assertiveness on defense.

“The guys are really trying to do what we tell them to do offensively,” Mann said. “I like the guys to play loose on offense, feel good and play with confidence. Defensively, I didn’t think we were doing what we did in practice and that’s what had me disappointed – it wasn’t enough carryover from practice.”

The Lakers will continue their six-game road trip against Eastern Michigan University on Oct. 27.