In their last two games before a two-week holiday break, the Hillsdale College men’s and women’s basketball teams will play at home against a pair of top contenders in the GLIAC this week.
Thursday night, the University of Findlay comes to Jesse Philips Arena for games at 6 p.m. (women’s) and 8 p.m. (men’s).
Both Findlay and Grand Valley State bring in basketball teams that are serious contenders for the GLIAC championship this season, on both the men’s and women’s sides of the court.
Saturday, the Chargers will host Grand Valley State. Tip-off times for those games are later than usual for Saturday games: 5 p.m. for the women’s game and 7 p.m. for the men’s.
Findlay’s men made history in 2008-09, by going 36-0 and winning the Division II national championship. The Oilers set a national record for the most wins in a season without a loss, and enjoyed a dream season by any standard.
The Oilers are 5-3 this season, while working four new players into the starting lineup. Findlay was upset on the road by Saginaw Valley State and Lake Superior State Dec. 3 and 5 respectively, but recovered nicely in a pair of home games last week.
The Oilers drilled Ferris State (90-62) and Grand Valley State (70-57) to improve to 2-2 in the GLIAC.
Hillsdale’s men played its first six straight games of the season on the road, but lost its home opener to Ferris State last week. The Chargers, like the Oilers, have entered the new season with a big turnover in the starting lineup compared to a year ago. The Chargers started a freshman, three sophomores and a senior last Saturday against the Bulldogs, making it one of the youngest starting fives in the conference.
One of the bright spots to the start of the season for Hillsdale has been the play of point guard Tyler Gerber. A sophomore starting for the first time in his collegiate career, Gerber leads the GLIAC in assists per game, and already has two 19-point games to his credit this season.
Grand Valley State’s men’s team is also 2-2 in the GLIAC, picking up wins at home over Ashland and Tiffin while losing to Findlay and Ferris State. The Lakers were a popular preseason top 10 pick in Division II, and feature one of the most athletic teams in the GLIAC.
The start of the 2009-10 season has looked a lot like the last two for Hillsdale – the Chargers are winning.
Hillsdale is 3-0 in conference play this season and is coming off back-to-back GLIAC South Division titles.
The team is 33-4 in the GLIAC since the start of the 2007-08 season, and after getting off to an 0-4 start to this season, the Chargers have improved their play at both ends of the court.
A guard-dominated team, one part of the team’s play that has improved during its three-game winning streak is rebounding.
In the first four games of the season, Hillsdale was getting out-rebounded by an average of five per game.
Over the past three games, the Chargers have turned the tables on their opponents, out-rebounding them by a combined margin of 31 in those three games.
Hillsdale’s starting lineup is highlighted by guards Brooke Knight, Janay Miller and Chelsea Harrison, and all three have made big impacts on the team’s success early this season.
Knight was named the GLIAC South Division Player of the Week last week, and leads the GLIAC in assists. Miller is second in the conference in scoring average, and has scored 14 or more points in five straight games. Harrison nailed six 3-point baskets in Saturday’s 94-74 win over Ferris State, and has 18 3-pointers in five games played.
The Chargers’ frontcourt received some reinforcements in the form of volleyball player Amanda Geelhoed, who joined the team full-time this week. Geelhoed is a six-foot post player who was part of some very successful teams at Lowell High School, leading the Red Arrows to the state semifinals in 2006.
This week’s slate of opponents are no slouches. Findlay has improved year-by-year since the arrival of head coach Kate Cummings. The Oilers are also a guard-dominated team, making the guard matchup a fun one to watch for fans Thursday night. Audra Mihalic, Laura Bardall and Maggie Gompers are quick and are excellent shooters. Mihalic was named the GLIAC South Division Player of the Week this week.
The Lakers were a very young team last season, featuring a roster with eight freshmen. However, GVSU still qualified for regionals, and came into this season with talent and experience.
Grand Valley State is on a seven-game winning streak and have won those games by an average of 19 points per game.