2013-14 Calvin Men’s Basketball Preview
Friday, November 01, 2013
The 2012-13 season proved to be a landmark year for the Calvin men’s basketball team. The Knights hit the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2006, captured the MIAA Tournament title and reached the NCAA III Tournament for the first time since 2007 and advanced to the Round of 16 of the NCAA III Tournament for the first time since 2005, eventually finishing with an overall record of 26-4.
What can the Knights do for an encore?
With a solid group of returning players, the Knights should field a strong squad for the upcoming season but will also have to find a way to replace four graduated seniors including a pair of 1,000 point scorers in combo guard Bryan Powell and wing forward Tom Snikkers.
Calvin will have an ample supply of frontcourt depth but finding ways to fill holes in the backcourt will be key. Along with Powell, the Knights must also replace starting point guard David Rietema who has graduated. Powell was a first team All-MIAA selection last year despite coming off the bench while Rietema was a stellar defender and ball-handler.
The Knights do return a starter in the backcourt in 6-3 junior shooting guard Jordan Brink (Dyer, IN/Illiana Christian HS). Brink has battled injuries during his Calvin career but when injury free, he has been a strong contributer. After missing the 2011-12 season with an injury, Brink came back to average 10.4 points a game while connecting on 38 percent of his three-point field goal attempts and a school record 95.7 percent (44-of-46) of his free throw tries. In a second round NCAA III Tournament victory at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, he scored 21 points including a 5-for-5 performance from three-point range. He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Tournament and earned a spot on the Elmhurst Bluejay Classic all-tournament team after nailing seven triples in a win over Ripon College.
Veterans to watch on the wing include senior Jordan Mast (Zeeland/Holland Christian HS) and junior T.J. Huizenga (Randolph, WI/Randolph HS). At 6-5, Mast can play either shooting guard or wing forward. A heady player, Mast connected on 46.2 percent (24-of-52) of his three-point attempts in 2012 and 50 percent (8-of-16) of his triple tries in 2013. At 6-4, Huizenga provides athleticism and versatility. He appeared in 17 games last year and five as a freshman in 2012.
Finding a replacement at point guard will be a key. Junior transfer Kyle MacDonald (Hillsdale/Jackson CC) and sophomores Austin Parks (Niles, Mich./Niles HS) and Jordan Daley (Grand Rapids, Mich/Grand Rapids Christian HS) are all candidates. Freshmen Danny Leach (Elmhurst, IL/Timothy Christian HS) and Brad Visser (Grand Rapids/Calvin Christian HS) are also candidates for playing time..
The front court should be a point of strength for Calvin as the Knights return several individuals that received significant playing time last year. Leading the group are returning starters Tyler Kruis (Grand Rapids/Calvin Christian HS) and Tyler Dykstra (Holland/Holland Christian HS. A 6-9 senior center, Kruis averaged 12.3 points and 6.0 rebounds a game while connecting on 52.6 percent of his field goal attempts and 78 percent of his free throw tries. Kruis also swatted 43 shots on the year and will head into his senior campaign with 130 career blocks which ranks fourth on the Calvin career list. The Calvin career record is 272 established by Mark Veenstra from 1973-to-1977. A 6-8 forward, Dykstra also has a penchant for blocking shots, swatting 14 as a freshman in 2012 and 29 last year as a sophomore while averaging 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.
A 6-7 senior with the ability to play either power forward or center, senior Mickey DeVries (Lansing, MI/Lansing Christian HS) served as Calvin’s “sixth man” last year, averaging 5.9 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. DeVries connected on 54 percent of his field goal tries and also swatted away 29 shots.
Not to be forgotten is 6-9 junior center Daniel Stout (Escondido, CA/Escondido Calvin Christian HS) who backed up Kruis in the post last year, averaging 3.2 points and 3.1 rebounds a game while also blocking 20 shots.
A pair of sophomores may also figure into the equation up front as 6-8 center Eric Brower (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS) provides power and bulk up front after splitting time between the varsity and junior varsity. Sophomore transfer B.J. Van Loo (Hudsonville/Hudsonville HS) will also likely push for playing time. A 6-6 forward, Van Loo averaged double-digits in scoring as a freshman at Grace Bible College last winter and could provide added scoring punch for the Knights.
In addition, 6-8 freshman Michael Welch (Stevensville/Stevensville-Lakeshore HS) provides added depth up front after a strong high school career.
“I think this is a team that has the chance to be pretty good by February but it may take a little time,” said Calvin head men’s basketball coach Kevin Vande Streek heading into his 18th year at the helm of the Knights. “The difference last year is that we were pretty experienced across our entire rotation but this year we have some new players that will take a little time to learn our system. I like the potential of this team and we are all looking forward to the season.”
Calvin will officially open its season on November 19 when it travels to Anderson University for an in-region non-conference game at 7:30 p.m. The Knights will then spent the majority of the 2013 portion of their schedule inside Van Noord Arena, hosting the Calvin Tip-Off Tournament, the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Tournament and the MIAA/CCIW Challenge on back-to-back-to-back weeks. A December home game with Finlandia is also on the docket as is a journey back to Manchester in late November. Both games will be NCAA III in-region contests.
Calvin will spend its Christmas break traveling through Southern California. On December 28, Calvin will face the University of Redlands - a team that advanced to the NCAA III Tournament last year. On December 30, the Knights will visit Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for another non-conference game.
The MIAA schedule begins on January 8 when Calvin travels to Alma for a mid-week game. The Knights then turn around to host rival Hope on Saturday, January 11.
In the preseason MIAA Coaches’ poll, Calvin was picked to repeat as league champions while Hope was picked to finish second.
“I think our league will be very competitive once again,” said Vande Streek. “We’ll have to strap it on each and every night we play in the MIAA. I think the quality of coaching in our league is very high and on any given day or night, someone could come up to knock you off. Again, we are looking forward to the challenge. It should be an exciting year.”