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Men’s Basketball Fighting Through Injury Bug in 2008-09

Saturday, January 31, 2009

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By Bruce Van Baren (Calvin Sports Information Student Assistant)

ANGOLA, IN – The injury bug, which had been dormant for the previous three seasons, has bitten the Knights throughout the 2008-2009 MIAA campaign.

“I don’t think that people realize how hard it is to go without somebody that you’ve played with, practiced with and set your substitution rotation accordingly,” coach Kevin Vande Streek said.

Calvin has had to play conference games without starters Caleb Veldhouse (Sioux Falls Christian) and John Mantel (Chelsea HS). Tyler Zoerhof (Holland Christian) missed a game with an ankle sprain, Paul Cambell (West Potomac HS) sat two games with an ankle injury and Nate Sytsma (Unity Christian) is sidelined with an ACL injury.

“It’s one thing if someone gets hurt and we have a week to prepare without him,” Vande Streek said. “It’s another thing if they get hurt in a game (like Veldhouse and Mantel) or in Tyler’s case right before a game.”

Even with the injuries, the Knights have managed to take first place of the MIAA with a 9-1 record. Calvin was relatively injury free during its 3-5 start, but in the face of numerous injuries Calvin has a nearly unblemished record in MIAA conference play.

“I’m really proud of (our players),” Vande Streek said. “I think it says a lot for our depth and mental toughness to be able to deal with those (injuries).”

With the injuries Vande Streek has had to pull up several players from the junior varsity team. Matt Capel, Lincoln Fox and Lane Waters are all practicing with the varsity squad.

“I think it’s real nice for them,” Vande Streek said. “They’ve only practiced with us once. But anytime they can play against better competition it’s great for their development.”

Veldhouse returned to the lineup in Saturday’s 82-80 win at Trine after missing the previous two games with a sprained ankle. Veldhouse suffered the injury midway through Calvin’s 60-57 loss to Olivet, but did return in the second half against the Comets.

“(Caleb’s ankle) is still sore,” Vande Streek said. “One of the challenges for him is that it’s the first time he’s ever rolled an ankle. He doesn’t know how to come back from that. It affects your jump shot.”

Without Veldhouse in the lineup, Vande Streek started Trent Salo at point guard alongside Dustin Smith. The Knights beat Albion 79-73 and Kalamazoo 74-60. Veldhouse scored 10 points and drained six of six free throws. Veldhouse was 0 of 3 from three-point range, but had a pair of assists.

“It’s nice to have him back in the lineup,” Vande Streek said. “You’re taking one of your best players out of your rotation. (It’s nice to have) that settling affect he brings.

“He gives us a little extra confidence,” he said. “You get down the stretch and you want someone who’s been there for four years and made the big shots and big plays.”

John Mantel, who leads the Knights with 13.7 points per game, exited in the first minute of Calvin’s 73-47 win over Alma College on January 10. Mantel was coming off a career-high effort against Trine when he suffered the ankle injury.

Since returning from the injury, Mantel maintained his production averaging 13.8 points-per-game. A healthy Mantel continued his production in Saturday’s win with a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Posted in: Men's Basketball
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