GVSU’s depth remains a strength in the GLIAC
Whether it’s junior Rob Woodson who can come in and provide instant offense, sophomore Ryan Majerle who can stretch the defense with his three-point sharp shooting, or freshman Ernijis Ansons suffocating on ball defense, the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team has a plethora of options to come off their bench at their disposal.
The depth of the Lakers has been one of their strengths thus far in the season. GVSU (13-3, 10-2 GLIAC) has ten players on their roster who currently average at least ten minutes per contest.
“If you look back over the time that I’ve been here, we’ve always played a lot of guys,” said head coach Ric Wesly. “It’s not really unusual that we would have nine guys, or ten guys that would play double digit minutes. That’s kind of been our mode here. We’ve been fortunate to have good depth and a number of kids that are capable of being productive players. We like to develop chemistry, so we like to give guys opportunities when we feel like their play warrants it.”
GVSU’s depth has been instrumental in wearing down their opponents in the late stages of a game. The Lakers have outscored their opponents an average of 37.5 to 29.8 in the second half of games this year.
“It’s a credit to our depth,” said senior point guard and captain Breland Hogan. “Most teams can’t just sustain the energy we sustain. We bring in fresh guys and they got in the same five that they started with and they can’t keep up.”
GVSU only has one person who averages double digit points per game, sophomore Ryan Sabin (11.3 points per game), but the Lakers have eight guys who average at least five points per game.
On eight separate occasions, GVSU has had a different leading scorer, including Woodson, who tallied 15 points against Kuyper College and 11 against Northern Michigan University off of the bench.
“I just tried to stay aggressive,” Woodson said. “I try to get in there and get the team some energy. If we do have that lead, try to sustain that and keep giving energy and staying aggressive.”
Lately, the Lakers have had to deal with various injuries. Sophomore Darius Norman is out for the rest of the year with a torn meniscus, and senior Tyrone Lee has miss periods of time while battling an ankle injury, but the Lakers have been able to move forward without their presence.
“When you’re a man down, the player you’re putting in for him is not necessarily someone who hasn’t been on the court for key situations,” Wesley said. “(Depth) helps you game to game, but really helps you as you have injuries along the way.”
Another result of having a deep team is that the practices always remain competitive. During the season, players can become lethargic with the daily grind and repetitious nature of practices, but the competitive atmosphere doesn’t make that possible at GVSU.
“That’s a key part of our practices,” Wesley said. “The fact that guys know that they are preparing for the games. Quite often our second team is able to beat our first team. It certainly makes for a more competitive environment. I think it pushes everyone to perform at their very best.”
The Lakers will hope their depth can be the difference in a couple key GLIAC contests. GVSU will face rivals Saginaw Valley State University at 6 p.m. in the Fieldhouse Arena, and will then travel to take on Wayne State University (11-0 GLIAC) on Saturday at 1 p.m.