GVSU prepares to face No. 2 Michigan State
If the Grand Valley State University men’s basketball team is intimidated with its matchup against No. 2 Michigan State University, it hasn’t shown it.
Instead, GVSU is relishing the opportunity to take on one of the top-ranked teams in the country.
“Really, we have nothing to lose,” senior guard Rob Woodson said. “Michigan State has everything to lose. We’re just coming in with the mindset of getting better for the season and play as hard as we can, and if we can come out with the win, then we come out with the win.”
The Lakers managed to come out with a win over No. 8 Michigan State in 2007—an 85-82 double overtime victory. This time, GVSU head coach Ric Wesley knows that taking the win in the Breslin Center will be an uphill battle.
“Boy, I think it’s going to be tough,” Wesley said about his team pulling off the upset. “Who knows? Sometimes lightning strikes twice. I think it’s a little bit different of a scenario (this time). We’re trying to just hang in there and make it a competitive game, and if we do that, we’ll consider it a success.”
Wesley was quick to laud the roster of Michigan State, which is a favorite in the Big Ten and is ranked No. 1 by Lindy Sports College Basketball and Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. USA Today Sports and The Sporting News rank the Spartans at No. 2, while Athlon Sports College Basketball has them at No. 4.
“I really think during the time I’ve been here at Grand Valley, I can’t remember a stronger team,” Wesley said. “When you look at their lineup, man, it’s an imposing group of guys. To have two senior veteran guys like Keith Appling and Adreian Payne—I don’t know if there’s anyone in the country that has seniors like that.”
Count Wesley in with the group that sees this Spartan team potentially making a deep postseason run in March.
“Gary Harris is one of the top perimeter players in the country, coming off a great freshman year,” he said. “All the other returning guys, Matt Costello, Valentine, Trice, and Gauna—and you go right through the group—it’s a proven, experienced, veteran, talented team that I can’t help but think is going to be in the run for a national title right to very end, and perhaps good enough to win it.”
Meanwhile, GVSU features a roster that sports six new faces. The Lakers will look to build some chemistry in their first court action of the season as they look to replace Tyrone Lee and Breland Hogan—who they lost to graduation—as well as Ryan Majerle (transfer) and Kristers Zeidaks (personal reasons).
“As imposing as they are, at this time of the year in a game like this, we can’t really spend that much time thinking about them,” Wesley said. “We have so many things to do to just make us the best that we can be. Our focus has got to be on us and what we’re trying to do and trying to establish an identity.”
While a win would shock the country and give GVSU a lot of confidence moving forward, the team recognizes the reality of the situation and would be happy with a solid showing.
For some, the opportunity to match-up with Michigan State is something they’ve thought about their entire life.
“We’re all excited to play in the Breslin Center,” junior center Darren Washington said. “We all watched State growing up, so it’ll be big for us. We have to compete. No one’s expecting to go in there and win, and we just have to compete and make sure to keep it close.”
The game is scheduled to start Tuesday at 7 p.m. and can be seen online on the Big Ten Digital Network.