Grand Valley State was chosen by the league's head coaches to finish in fifth place in the conference's North Division, as the GLIAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll was released on Wednesday. The Lakers are coming off an 18-11 record last season and GVSU returns nine letterwinners and a pair of starters from the 2015-16 team.
With 29 total points, the Lakers settled into fifth place in the North Division behind Saginaw Valley State (49 points, seven of eight-place votes) as the division champion. Ferris State (40 points) was chosen second, Lake Superior State (33 points, one first-place vote) came in third place, and Michigan Tech (31 points) finished slightly ahead of GVSU.
In the South Division, Findlay (34 points, five of seven first-place votes) was selected to win the division title ahead of runner-up Ashland (29 points, one first-place vote). Hillsdale (26 points) was chosen third, while Walsh (25 points, one first-place vote) was fourth.
Last season, Saginaw Valley State and Ashland won their respective divisions with identical 18-4 records, but sixth-seeded Ferris State topped eighth-seeded Walsh to win the 2015-16 GLIAC Tournament championship.
Here are the full results of the 2016-17 GLIAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll:
Place - Team - Votes (first-place votes)
1. Saginaw Valley State - 49 (7)
2. Ferris State - 40
3. Lake Superior State - 33 (1)
4. Michigan Tech - 31
5. Grand Valley State - 29
T-6. Northern Michigan - 15
T-6. Wayne State - 15
8. Northwood - 12
Place - Team - Votes (first-place votes)
1. Findlay - 34 (5)
2. Ashland - 29 (1)
3. Hillsdale - 26
4. Walsh - 25 (1)
5. Tiffin - 15
6. Ohio Dominican - 11
7. Lake Erie - 7
The GLIAC Preseason All-Conference teams included five players from each division. 2016-17 GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year CJ Turnage from Saginaw Valley State was joined by teammate Garrett Hall, as well as Drew Cushingberry (Ferris State), Kyle Monroe (Michigan Tech), and Akaemji Williams (Lake Superior State) on the five-member North Division team.
In the South Division, Findlay had a pair of players - Martyce Kimbrough and Taren Sullivan - joined by Ashland's Boo Osborne, Tiffin's Khaleal McCormick, and Walsh's Trey Fletcher.
Grand Valley State returns senior guard Luke Ryskamp, who started all 29 games last year and averaged a team-high 30.3 minutes per game. An All-GLIAC Second Team selection last year, Ryskamp posted 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while owning solid shooting percentages from the field (43.7), three-point range (35.6) and the free throw line (76.1). Ryskamp has increased his scoring (6.1 to 13.0 to 13.5) and rebounding (2.3 to 4.0 to 4.3) in each of his three seasons as a Laker.
Classmate Trevin Alexander averaged 8.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while finishing 13th in the league with 60 offensive rebounds. The senior forward led GVSU with 35 steals and added 15 blocked shots, while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and making 20-of-43 three-point attempts. Alexander started eight times and averaged 22.5 minutes per game last season.
Sophomore guard Zach West started next to Ryskamp in the backcourt in 23 contests as a true freshman, playing 24.0 minutes per game. West drained 37 three-pointers (second to Ryskamp's 47 trifectas), scored 5.3 points per game, and recorded more assists (26) than turnovers (16).
Junior point guard Myles Miller (six starts) and 6'10" sophomore center Justin Greason (two starts) each made appearances in the starting lineup last season. Miller logged 11.5 minutes per game and shot 41.2 percent from the field, while Greason shot 48.1 percent from the floor and grabbed 23 offensive rebounds in less than nine minutes per contest.
Taller guards in 6'5" senior Juwan Starks and 6'4" sophomore Deshawn Lewis showed signs of promise last season and will compete for more playing time this year, along with fellow junior guards Chris Dorsey and Danzel Wright. There are a total of eight players on this year's roster who have yet to play in a game for the Lakers, including a five-member freshman class.
GVSU will face Oakland at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7 in the team's lone exhibition game of the 2016-17 campaign. The Lakers will open the season on the road at the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge in St. Louis, Mo., as Grand Valley State will face Quincy and Missouri-St. Louis on Nov. 11-12. GVSU's home opener takes place on Nov. 16 against Great Lakes Christian inside the Fieldhouse Arena.