Preview: GVSU men's basketball to face Purdue Northwest in lone weekend matchup

By Robbie Triano | 1/25/18 1:59am

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There’s a certain amount of passion required to coach, play and follow the sport of basketball on a consistent basis.

For Grand Valley State men’s basketball head coach Ric Wesley, his 30-plus years spent coaching the sport still hasn't withered his love for the game. 

That passion was most notably seen after the Lakers’ 66-62 upset victory over GLIAC powerhouse Lake Superior State on Thursday, Jan. 18, at the DeltaPlex Arena. After the game, coach Wesley ran into the locker room, jumping into the team’s circle and punching the air to pump up his team. And it worked, as the team began to swarm their coach, practically jumping all over him in the process.

“There are games when you win and can’t get too happy because you know you didn’t play that well, but when you win a close game like we did where it’s hard not to get that excited for your guys,” Wesley said. “I’m with these guys nearly 24/7. When you see them grow, mature and find themselves, it reminds myself why I wanted to pursue this for a living long ago.”

After a competitive weekend against Lake Superior and rival Ferris State, the Lakers are finally set up to have a less strenuous weekend schedule. Usually, the Lakers play two games per week: one on Thursday and the other on Saturday. This time they will only have one against newly added GLIAC foe Purdue Northwest (1-18 overall, 1-10 GLIAC).

The game is the Lakers’ Kids and Alumni Day, presented by Two Men and a Truck.

The Lakers faced the Pride at their home court, grabbing a 95-69 victory, on Dec. 16, 2017, in Hammond, Indiana. The game was highlighted by what coach Wesley calls the “best half of basketball we’ve played all year,” when the Lakers scored 54 points only in the first half.

With this being the lone weekend game, the Lakers are approaching the week differently than they have all year, spending extra time to perfect their craft.

“It feels almost like an exam week,” Wesley said. “We can take an extra day off, fine tune some things and even add some more things. We haven’t been able to do that in awhile, and it comes at a good time for us as we head into the final stretch of the season.”

In all honesty, the first season in the conference hasn’t been the easiest for the Pride of Purdue Northwest. Acclimating to the more physical style of play has been slower than expected, but coach Wesley still doesn’t take them for granted. 

“The biggest thing that stand out in our minds is to not be fooled by their record,” Wesley said. “Their record would indicate that they’re not a very competitive team, but if you look at their scores, boy, they’re really tough.

“I’ll be surprised if they come in here not ready to go.”

One player to look out for on the Pride is guard Tyree Coe, who leads the team in points (13.8), minutes (33.9) and 3-point percentage (38 percent). 

Winning seven of their last nine contests, the Lakers (10-9 overall, 5-6 GLIAC) will hope to keep last weekend’s success alive against the Pride on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m. in the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena. 

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