Men’s Basketball Opens Van Noord Arena and MIAA Campaign With Win Over Trine
Thursday, January 08, 2009
By Chaz Amidon
GRAND RAPIDS – John Mantel made sure Trine didn’t spoil Calvin’s unveiling of the new Van Noord Arena.
The junior center matched a career-high 27 points and reeled in 11 rebounds to bolster the Knights in their 77-69 win over the Thunder in the conference opener on Wednesday, capping a milestone night that included a victory for the women’s team beforehand and the presentation of the MIAA Commissioner’s Cup at halftime.
It marked the third consecutive victory for the Knights (6-5, 1-0), who exceeded .500 for the first time since Dec. 5.
“I thought we worked really hard,” said Calvin head coach Kevin Vande Streek. “We had some lapses where we missed free throws or shots. They made some tough 3s – a bunch of them – in the second half. But other than that I think we worked really hard and that’s always a great thing.”
Coming off the heels of capturing the Purple and Gold Classic, Calvin erupted in the second half and built a 14-point lead with just over 6:00 remaining in regulation. But that’s when Trine countered with a pair of 3-pointers and a backdoor cut from Randall Harris, prompting Vande Streek to reinsert his big man into the lineup.
Mantel responded, connecting on a deep 3-pointer then knocking down two free throws to punctuate a 7-0 Calvin run. He muscled in a put-back minutes later – one of his four offensive rebounds – and iced the win with two more free throws with 33 seconds to go.
And he also had the honor of flushing home the first dunk in Van Noord Arena, elevating for a two-handed jam with 6:05 remaining in the first half.
“As a freshman, that’s probably a game where we don’t get anything out of him because he would have gotten so frustrated with himself,” said Vande Streek of Mantel, who shot just 3 of 7 from the foul line in the first half. “But he was able to clear his head, come back and have a great response each time.”
Shooting only 6-of-15 (40 percent) from the line in the first half, Calvin relied on its offensive rebounding to compensate for its woes from the charity stripe. The Knights registered 19 offensive rebounds en route to claiming the battle of the boards, 52-36, over the Thunder.
Aside from Mantel’s game-high 11 boards, Mike Zwier grabbed nine, Caleb Veldhouse and Danny Rodts each hauled in seven and Dustin Smith totaled six.
Several of those second chances resulted in open opportunities from the perimeter, as both Matt Veltema and Danny Rodts nailed weak side 3-pointers down the stretch.
“Anytime you can get the ball in the post you can do so much with your offense,” said Mantel. “It often draws double teams…we’ve got so many great shooters on our team. It’s a great way to run our offense.”
Veldhouse, the team’s leading scorer entering Wednesday’s game (14.5 ppg), finished with 11 points, while Zwier and Tyler Zoerhof each chipped in eight. Rodts and Tim Katt added seven apiece.
Trine was anchored by dual 16-point outings from Harris and Chris Milan, who fired in two 3-pointers in the final minute of play. Wes Weir tallied 15 points while Alex Croll and Deon Thompson each had seven.
Calvin had previously garnered a 5-5 non-conference record on the road throughout November and December and hadn’t played a home game since Feb. 27, 2008, when the Knights cruised past Olivet in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.
Vande Streek’s squad first practiced on the new foam-based hardwood last Friday in order to become acclimated with its new home.
“It’s outstanding,” said Vande Streek of the new facility, “just to put stuff in a locker room and sit down to have a team chat with everybody in your own place… We need a little time to settle in and hopefully it become a really nice home court advantage for us.”
The Knights will now host Alma (2-9, 0-1), a team that lost its MIAA opener to Kalamazoo in a 69-65 contest, this Saturday. Calvin will travel to Angola, Ind., for its second meeting with Trine on Jan. 31.