The SVSU men’s basketball team played in its final home game of the season last week. Seniors Caleb Davis, Wade Gelhaus, Garrett Hall, Jon Marosi and CJ Turnage stepped onto their home floor for the final time as the most decorated senior class in SVSU men’s basketball history.
“Each guy has brought so much to this team,” head coach Randy Baruth said. “They all have their own unique personalities, playing style and story. But that’s how they make it all work.”
On Senior Night, it was fitting that every senior was honored for their numerous accomplishments and earned a spot on the starting lineup.
This season, the five have accounted for 48 of Saginaw Valley’s 77 points per game while accounting for 56 percent of minutes played.
Four years ago, these players came together from all corners of the country and globe to put on the Cardinal uniform. Whether they came from Michigan, Indiana or across the Pacific Ocean to Australia, they all came to SVSU for the same reason: the home atmosphere.
“Coming from Grand Rapids, Grand Valley is a very well-known name back home,” Marosi said. “Everyone asks why I came to SVSU and left home, but I have never been prouder to be a Cardinal because of this team.”
In their careers, the group has earned many SVSU firsts, including the first ever No. 1 national raking, first GLIAC regular season title since the 1984-1985 season, and first ever Elite Eight appearance in the national tournament last year.
In addition, at least one of the group’s five members appear in the top 10 of every career statistical category in the school’s history. Turnage alone ranks among the top 10 in games played, field goals, points, rebounds, steals and assists.
Both Turnage and Hall have made the All-GLIAC teams the past two seasons and will likely be in contention again this season. Following Turnage’s freshman season, he was honored as the GLIAC Freshman of the Year.
During their freshman season, the team went 9-17 and hadn’t had a winning season in 25 years.
“The biggest thing we left behind was the culture of this program,” Davis said. “We had the opportunity to build up this program from the ground up, and we did. We built a dynasty that will continue to be great.”
Even though these seniors will be taking their awards and accolades with them upon graduation, the legacy they are leaving behind will be far greater.
“These guys were my first recruiting class,” Baruth said. “Their hard work has not only changed our success but our attitude as well. We had two 20-or more win seasons in a row because of their hard work. Now that we didn’t have the same success that we have had in years past, people are upset. But that isn’t a bad thing. They changed what it means to be successful as an SVSU Cardinal, and that’s the biggest thing any athlete can leave behind.”
Saginaw Valley (17-11, 10-11 in GLIAC) finished its regular season Thursday night against the Warriors of Wayne State. The Cards fell just short, 57-53. With the loss, SVSU finished as the ninth team in the GLIAC standings and out of the conference tournament play.
In the first half, the Cardinals ran tightly with the Warriors. With 2:22 left on the clock, a Devin Dixon layup gave Saginaw Valley its largest lead of the half, 29-25. But the Warriors produced stifling defense and tied the game up at 29 going into the break.
The Cardinals got off to a strong start in the second half. Six minutes in, a Garrett Hall three-pointer gave the Cards a 41-32 lead.
With just under five minutes to play, SVSU kept its space from Wayne State with a 53-45 lead.
The Warriors held the Cardinals scoreless for the remainder of the game and took over the lead with a minute left in the game. They scored once more to win the game 57-53.
The Cardinals will have a break from in-game play until the seeding is announced for the Division II National Tournament. The fate of SVSU’s playoff hopes will rely on its outstanding non-conference schedule. Saginaw Valley went 7-0 in non-conference play that includes a buzzer-beater against the current #4 team in the country, Bellarmine.