Athletics in the news

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Wayne State basketball to host Michigan in exhibition to open new arena

Wayne State will open its new basketball arena with a flourish. The Warriors will host Michigan in an exhibition in the inaugural game at the new arena on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. It’s a collaboration between Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel for a high-level opponent in the debut of the new arena for the Warriors, who play in Division II. "I truly appreciate the willingness of Coach (Juwan) Howard and Warde to provide this opportunity to open our arena with the state's premier Division 1 program," Fournier said in a statement.  "To me, it underscores their genuine support for the City of Detroit and our community.” Wayne State also has a partnership with the Pistons on the new arena, which also will house the Pistons’ G League franchise, the Motor City Cruise. The Cruise will begin their first season in the G League in the fall as well. In the past, Wayne State has played against Michigan in games at Crisler Center. This time, the Wolverines are returning the favor. "I want to personally thank Coach Howard and his staff for helping us open our new basketball arena," Wayne State coach David Greer said. "It certainly has been a long time coming (with the new arena) and the partnership with the Detroit Pistons made it happen. To have a Division I program in Michigan be a part of our celebration of opening our new arena will make it a big event for our young men since Michigan is a big part of Detroit basketball.”

Gary Bryce reflects on his 40-year career as head coach of Wayne State softball

After 40 seasons and 1,340 wins, Gary Bryce retired as the head softball coach at Wayne State (MI) last month. He's the all-time winningest coach in DII softball, and ranks sixth in total victories regardless of division. Bryce is a 10-time GLIAC Coach of the Year and finished with a career record of 1,340-793-8. The Warriors made it to the final eight of the DII softball championship three times under his watch. He was inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame in 2008. Shortly after the 2021 season ended in May, Bryce spoke with NCAA.com in a phone interview.  
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Guards help lead Wayne State men to first sole GLIAC crown in 22 years

David Greer thought his Wayne State men's basketball team was a year away from being in this position. That position is sole Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions for the first time since 1999. But when you have dynamic guards, anything's possible. "We had some really good guards, and any time you've got a good backcourt, you've got a chance," said Greer, who's in his 20th season as the program's head coach. "We played a lot of close games, and have been able to win a number of those." Wayne State (12-5) clinched the championship in the regular-season finale Saturday, with a 70-68 victory over 2018 national champion Ferris State in the men's program's final game at Detroit's Matthaei Center. This fall, the Warriors move into a new $25 million arena that they will share with the Pistons' new G-League affiliate. The rest of this season's games will be on the road, starting Thursday at John Friend Court in Hammond, Indiana, site of the GLIAC tournament. Wayne State got a first-round bye play an opponent to be determined by Tuesday's games at campus sites. Then it's possibly onto the Division II NCAA Tournament, which will be played this season after last year's tournament was canceled by COVID-19.
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Medical experts warn that mental health of college athletes, and especially Black athletes, is being overlooked

As colleges grapple with the decision of when to resume athletic competition, the NCAA’s chief medical officer suggested mental health issues — especially among Black athletes — are getting insufficient attention. Mental health concerns were highest among respondents of color, those whose families are facing economic hardship and those living alone, according to an NCAA news release about the findings of the survey, which was conducted April 10-May 1. Greater financial pressures and more instability at home among Black athletes make separation from their teammates an even bigger issue, said M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University and a panelist. “We have to deal with those aspects with the same rigor and concentration as we do social distancing, wearing masks, sanitation of facilities,’’ Wilson said. “All those things are good. But we’ve got to look at the well-being of our student athletes also, because they’re not going to be able to come back if they don’t."
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Pistons purchase G-League team in Arizona, will play games at Wayne State in 2021-22

The Pistons are getting a new G League affiliate for the 2021-22 season. The team and the Gatorade league jointly announced Wednesday that the Pistons purchased the Phoenix Suns’ affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns. That new team will be renamed and begin play in the new arena being built on the campus of Wayne State University after next season. The Grand Rapids Drive, who had been the Pistons’ affiliate in the G-League, will play its last season before the transition to the new team and new arena. The Drive have a separate ownership group — that includes former Pistons icon Ben Wallace — and the move gives Pistons team owner Tom Gores control over the new Detroit-based franchise. Wayne State and the Pistons last year announced the construction of a $25 million arena that will house the new G League franchise as well as Wayne State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. The new facility will be 70,000 square feet and will be located near the corner of Warren and Trumbull on the school’s athletic campus. In addition to playing games on the school’s campus, a move that will generate revenue and usage of the new facility, the organization will work with Wayne State administrators to create programs and internship opportunities for students in fields like sports marketing, community relations, physical therapy, rehabilitation and sports and entertainment business operations.
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Wayne State student athlete save's strangers life with bone marrow transplant

It's game day for the Wayne State University Football team, and number 42 kicker Luke Bevilacqua. While some try to be a hero on the field, Luke is a hero off the field. How far would you go to save a stranger's life? Luke didn't think twice about his sacrifice for a stranger. It is very rare when someone becomes a match for donating bone marrow. Which is why when a Wayne State student athlete got the call he was one after joining the Be The Match registry, he couldn't pass it up. "For me, I just did it because everyone else was doing it, and then like I said I didn't think much of it. My stuff got sent in and I didn't hear anything for a few months," he says. Luke was a busy student-athlete at WSU when he suddenly got a call he'll never forget about a woman he's never met. "They want you to know that you are someone who can save someone's life and there's sometimes not another option." Luke was told a 61-year-old woman in Texas needed his bone marrow to survive. Luke says the sacrifice was well worth it and that he'd do it again if he ever got the call again. Luke has been honored by the Allstate American Football Coaches Associaton Good Works Team. 
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Wednesday's state college basketball: Wayne State's Carrie Lohr notches 300th collegiate win

Senior Sadia Johnson scored 19 points, including 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, as Wayne State beat Central State, 78-70, to give coach Carrie Lohr her 300th collegiate victory. Lohr previously coached at St. Clair County Community College. Sophomore Sam Cherney (North Farmington) recorded her first career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Grace George had 16 points. Wayne State (2-1) shot 51 percent from the floor, to 38 percent for Central State (1-2). Wayne State visits Findlay on Tuesday.
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Wayne State football team powered by former local stars

The Wayne State University football team aims to bounce back from a 2-9 season in 2018, and will look to some former area stars to do it. The following players from the Hometown Life coverage area are on the 2019 roster. James Hill is the most important player on the list this fall for the Warriors. He is the team’s starting running back and rushed for 831 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He also caught 17 passes for 172 yards, making him the team’s second-leading receiver. Marcus Bailey is expected to be more involved in the offense this year, after catching two passes last season. Jacob Mass played in all 11 games and recorded nine tackles and one tackle for loss. Assistant running backs coach Dylan Dunn is also a Livonia native and played football at Livonia Stevenson, where he graduated in 2012. Wayne State opens the season at home on Thursday, Sept. 5, against No. 10 Slippery Rock.
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On the trail: A dive into Michigan high school recruiting

Scott Wooster, a recruiting coordinator and offensive line coach at Wayne State University, said social media can help those in his line of work get an early character evaluation on a player based on what they post. The coach also noted that social media can hurt the evaluation of a player in more ways than one. “Because of all this attention you can get on social media, I think some young men have fallen in love with recruiting and don’t necessarily love football,” he said. “You better love football, because you’re going to spend a lot of time with it at the college level.” While there have been copious number of changes to recruiting over the years, one thing that has stayed constant in Wooster’s job is where he starts his evaluation of a high school player. “To me it all starts with the coach,” Wooster said. “I think any program worth their salt, that’s how they’re going to operate too. For the kids, don’t just be the best player on your team — be the best young man on your team. … Do everything your coach says so that when we go in there, your coach says, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy.’” Wooster said he makes contact with every coach in his recruiting area, which includes both Oakland and Macomb counties. He physically visits 80-90 percent of the schools to make sure he and his staff aren’t relying on what they see on Twitter or recruiting databases. Wooster said there are some myths when it comes to recruiting. “I think one of them is you need a recruiting service to get recruited,” he said. “It all goes through the high school coach for us.” Running hand in hand with recruiting services are recruiting combines, places where kids can go with hopes of getting more eyes from D-1 scouts. Wooster believes it’s best to stay away from those types of camps. “Don’t waste your money on the combines and all that kind of stuff,” Wooster said. “Instead, have that honest conversation with your high school coach about what level they see you playing at. Then go to those camps, go to the camps; where that (college’s) staff is going to be there. That’s the way to get recruited.”
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Deiontae Nicholas back for last hurrah, seeks to lift Wayne State from doldrums

Sometimes the hardest part of football is figuring out when to let it go. After injuries limited him to playing in only seven games in the past two seasons, that time seemed to be drawing nigh for Wayne State’s Deiontae Nicholas. Nicholas was a redshirt senior and after a productive five years, he was poised to hang up his cleats for the final time, after an injury in the third game ended his year. Not quite. “After (the injury) happened, for the next two or three months, I was convinced that it was my last year and I was done,” Nicholas said. “Thoughts kept creeping back and things like getting accepted into grad school and teammates talking about our season not going well and next year being better. “Being around the team the rest of the season motivated me to give it another shot.” Nicholas got a medical waiver for a sixth year of eligibility and gets another shot to help Wayne State improve of its dismal 2-9 finish last season. In some ways, the sour taste from a poor showing helped motivate Nicholas to give it another shot.
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Wayne State looks to 'create a new culture' to bounce back from two-win season

Wayne State football coach Paul Winters hadn’t experienced a season like 2018’s 2-9 campaign since his first season in 2004 when the rookie head coach got his feet wet at Wayne State with a 1-9 mark. Winters isn’t shy about the team falling short of expectations, describing his 2018 team Monday as struggling quite a bit at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's media day. In order to get back to respectability in the GLIAC, Winters said his team will have to embrace the grindstone, highlighting work ethic as the key to engineering a turnaround. “The GLIAC is the SEC of Division II,” Winters said. “Every week it’s a great challenge. Our guys are all upset with the results of last season. We’ve got guys that are anxious to show that that’s (last season’s record) not us.” Last season’s low win total brought Winters’s career record at Wayne State under .500, but if anyone knows how to steer Wayne State football to the national stage, it’s probably Winters. His 2011 squad was the Division II national runner-up and Wayne State had winning seasons from 2008 to 2012. Plus, Winters has put players into the NFL, including Joique Bell. Anthony Pittman, a linebacker last season, is vying for a spot with the Lions.
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New arena approved for WSU basketball and Pistons’ G League affiliate

In May of this year, Wayne State’s board of governors approved plans for the construction of an arena that will host Wayne State men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as contests for the Pistons’ G League affiliate. Rob Fournier, Wayne State director of athletics, expects the arena — which he said will have a seating capacity of about 3,000 — to be completed in July of 2021 on the campus of Wayne State, near the intersection of Warren and Trumbull avenues in Detroit. “Anytime your athletic program can be associated directly with a professional team, there’s no downside to it,” Fournier said. “Can you imagine showing a recruit around the facility and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a partnership with the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.’ How does that hurt your recruiting? Those are the kind of intangibles that separate you from other institutions.” The projected cost for the arena is $25 million. “The basic formula is we’re putting the money upfront, and then they’re paying us back money over a number of years to cover that cost,” Fournier said of the lease agreement with the Pistons.
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Wayne State's Hunter Brown goes in fifth round to Astros

Wayne State right-hander Hunter Brown saw the pre-Major League Baseball projections, that had him a top-100 prospect. But he tried not to get caught up in that as one pick after another went by, first Monday night, then mid-day Tuesday. The patience paid off when the Houston Astros took him in the fifth round. "Honestly, you know, you wait your whole life, as long as you play baseball starting in Little League, to hopefully sit there and hear your name called," Brown said. "And you see your name go up on the screen. It's a pretty exciting feeling. It's nothing like you've ever felt. It was awesome." Brown, 20, was taken with the 166th pick in the draft. Interestingly, Wayne State's best showing in the draft was another right-hander, Anthony Bass, who was selected in 2008 — with the 165th pick. "So he went one ahead, huh?" Brown said, laughing. "We were trying to find out what pick he went. We knew he went in the fifth round. Anthony's great, he's had a big-league career. And he's been kind of a mentor to me, this year especially. So, hey, 165 or 166, or anything range, it's awesome." Bass, 31, is in his eighth season in the major leagues, now with the Seattle Mariners. But over the offseason, during a fall scout day on campus and during Bass' annual camp at Wayne State, he made sure to pass along his cell number to Wayne State coach Ryan Kelley — to give to Brown.