With a mixture of youthful enthusiasm and the steadying influence of knowledgeable veterans, the Bulldogs are approaching the season with what head coach Edgar Wilson refers to as "a positive mental attitude" and a better understanding of what it takes "to compete at a higher level."
A brief look at the Ferris State team reveals a number of reasons for optimism in the "Dawg House."
The mixture of experience and youthful enthusiasm is featured prominently in the Bulldog backcourt where senior Donté Hill, junior Donald Tinsley and sophomore Brian Monahan are expected to show the way for a trio of newcomers.
One of just two seniors on the squad, Hill returns for his final campaign after starting 10 games and averaging 5.0 points per game a year ago. He will have to be a leader this season.
Tinsley is back for his second season at Ferris State. The 6-2 Detroit Central product scored 181 points a year ago and was the second-leading rebounder on the squad with 106. His well-rounded game could blossom with the added enthusiasm at Ferris State this season.
A year ago, Monahan saw action in 24 games and recorded 42 steals. He will be counted on to play additional minutes this year and handle some of the ball-handling duties.
Marcus Wallace (Muskegon), Jamal Harrison (Detroit) and Chad Paulsen (Remus Chippewa Hills) provide the fresh faces in the backcourt. The enthusiasm and skill of these three combined with the determination of Hill, the intensity of Tinsley and the savvy of Monahan, should cause play in the Bulldog backcourt to rise to the next level. While all six players will push each other to perform better, there is very little doubt they will be able to blend their efforts and style of play to produce solid teamwork and a foundation for the future.
The beneficiaries of an improved backcourt will most assuredly be the Bulldog frontcourt. As in the backcourt, three experienced players will welcome three newcomers with less experience and high levels of enthusiasm.
Second team-All Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) center Adam Anderson, junior forward Matt Miller and senior forward Dennis Smolinski comprise an experienced frontcourt.
Anderson has the potential to become one of the premier players in school history. A year ago, he averaged 14.6 points and seven rebounds a game for Ferris State. Entering the season, the 6-10 junior ranks fourth on the all-time chart at Ferris State with 49 blocked shots.
Miller has battled back from an injury which limited his minutes a year ago and should help take some of the weight off of the shoulders of Anderson up front. Last season, the 6-8 Miller started 12 contests and grabbed 68 boards. For the Bulldogs to move up the conference standings, he will have to stay healthy.
The other senior on the squad, Smolinski, should be ready to provide a solid contribution in his second season at Ferris State. The 6-8, 242-pound bruiser will give the Bulldogs a big presence inside.
Sophomore Jeff Guernsey, freshman Johnathan Bowers (Comstock) and freshman Nathan Wruble (Harbor Beach) provide the youthful contingent to the Ferris State frontcourt. The skill and energy of the newcomers along with the tenacious post work of Anderson, the dogged determination of Miller and the bruising power of Smolinski, should give the Bulldogs the makings of a complete frontcourt that can begin to withstand the grueling, physical play waged under the bucket in the GLIAC.
The 2000-01 Bulldog team possesses the ingredients necessary to be competitive in every game this season. With experience and the building of chemistry, the Bulldogs could blend into an exciting and cohesive team. A solid core of returnees and a talented crop of newcomers have installed a new enthusiasm and a new attitude in the Ferris State men's basketball program. That enthusiasm and improved attitude could go a long way for Coach Wilson and his squad. Hopes are high heading into the 2000-01 campaign.