ALLENDALE, Mich. — In a season with so much uncertainty, coaches are relying on their senior leadership more than ever.
“We do have veteran guys, which should be a help in this kind of setting,” said Grand Valley men’s basketball coach, Ric Wesley.
The Lakers will lean upon six seniors on the roster, including West Ottawa alum Jake Van Tubbergen, who continues to rack up the individual accolades after being named GLIAC preseason player of the year.
“He’s got a big mark on his chest, he’s an All-American last year, all-conference player, certainly a very talented guy, one of the most talented guys we’ve had come through our program,” Wesley added.
Van Tubbergen averaged 18.4 points per game last season and also collected 14 double-doubles in 30 games.
“It’s a cool individual honor to get for past years and the work I’ve put in those years,” Van Tubbergen said, “but I think our focus is more so as a team winning a conference championship and maybe making a push in the national tournament.”
Meanwhile, at the guard spot, the Lakers will lose nearly 80-percent of their backcourt scoring and will now lean upon Grand Rapids Christian alum and Colorado transfer, Deleon Brown as well as Grand Rapids Catholic Central product and sophomore Austin Braun.
“Our seniors last year Jayden Hodgson, Jeremiah Ferguson, and Ben Lubitz were all outstanding for us, so that’s the place we really don’t have much experience,” Wesley admitted.
Braun finished last season well for the Lakers and feels confident in his abilities going into this season.
“I put in a lot of work this offseason,” Braun said, “I improved my game a lot, got my body right, I’m feeling better than ever. We fully expect to fill that role and carry on that great backcourt we had last year.”
The team is being rapidly tested for COVID-19 six times a week, which is all paid for by the university to ensure safe play.
“We get test every morning and we’ve gone six weeks without any of our players contracting the virus,” Wesley said.
And in this uncertain time, the Lakers upperclassmen are making sure they still enjoy their time together this season.
“Just have fun with it, man,” Van Tubbergen smiled when asked what his message is to the team, “honestly, there’s times you go through in college and you don’t get it again.”
The Lakers open the season on Saturday against Saginaw Valley State, it will be the first athletic event held on GVSU’s campus in 308 days.