Men’s Basketball Holds On to First Place With Hard-Fought Win Over Adrian
Saturday, February 07, 2009
By Bruce Van Baren (Calvin Sports Information Student Assistant)
Calvin held the MIAA’s second leading scorer, Adrian’s Desmond Young, scoreless as the Knights survived a defensive slugfest with Adrian 63-59 Saturday at VanNoord Arena to hold on to first place in the MIAA.
The Knights (14-6, 9-1 MIAA) won their fifth straight game and remain in first place in the MIAA and one game ahead of Hope College (15-6, 8-2 MIAA). Calvin will host the Dutchmen Wednesday at VanNoord Arena.
“We certainly expected a battle,” John Mantel (Chelsea HS) said. “Adrian is a scrappy team and a good team. We played great team defense today. That’s what really contributed to shutting (Young) down.”
Calvin is certainly familiar with the impact the Bulldogs senior guard can have on a game. Young came into Saturday’s game averaging 22.2 points-per-game against the Knights and put up 26 points in the teams first meeting of the year.
“I thought we did a really nice job of playing our defensive system and keeping (Young) where we wanted,” Vande Streek said. “He wasn’t quite as aggressive (as usual). At halftime I said, ‘He’s certainly capable of carrying them, let’s not let him get going.’”
Vande Streek credited Danny Rodts for spearheaded the defensive effort on Young.
“Danny does a lot unsung things,” Vande Streek said. “He’ll get that tough rebound or make that big shot. Defensively he’s become very good.”
Calvin’s offense ranks second in the MIAA with 73.4 points-per-game in conference games. But the Knights scored 63 points in a win at Alma Wednesday and 66 points Saturday against Adrian.
Mantel said the team isn’t concerned with the decreased scoring.
“Scoring isn’t our primary focus,” he said. “Our goal is to rebound well and play a good team defense. If we rebound well and play good team defense the game is going to take care of itself.”
Calvin has out-rebounded every opponent in the MIAA this season. The Knights held a 36-26 advantage on the boards against Adrian. Calvin also grabbed 13 rebounds. Dustin Smith (Hamilton HS) and Caleb Veldhouse (Sioux Falls Christian) led Calvin with eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
The Knights led by as many as eight points in the second half. Michael Staley, who led the Bulldogs with 17 points, kept Adrian in the game. Staley scored seven straight points on a 7-2 run that cut the deficit to 55-53 with just over two minutes to play.
Veldhosue and Mantel hit six straight free throws to extend the lead to eight points with just under one minute left. Veldhouse, who scored all eight of his points at the free-throw line, hit clutch free throws for the Knights for the second time in three games.
“We have a lot of clutch guys on the team,” Mantel said. “Caleb, Dustin (Smith), Danny all those guys will hit their free throws. We’re pretty confident. We just needed to stick them in.”
The Knights ranked second to last in free throw percentage in the MIAA earlier this season and have since improved to fourth in the league, shooting 71.3-percent from the charity stripe.
“We realize that we had to work on free throws so we’ve been working on that in practice,” Mantel said.
Adrian sunk a pair of triples in the final minute, but Dustin Smith (Hamilton HS) hit two of four free throws to seal the 63-59 win.
“The MIAA is tough and even though the standings don’t look close, games are close,” Vande Streek said. “We were fortunate to be tough enough, hang in there and get the job done today.”