Monday, October 20, 2014

Calvin Releases 2014-15 Men's Basketball Roster

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Calvin’s Men’s Basketball roster was released on the school’s official athletic website today, giving us our first glimpse of the 2014-15 Knights.

Regarding the Roster, Who is Not on It

It comes as no surprise – but it is still perhaps worth spending a few words here – that the three players from last year’s roster who had exhausted their NCAA eligibility are not found on this year’s version of said roster. These players are, of course, Tyler Kruis, Mickey DeVries, and Jordan Mast.

The type of hard-hitting analysis that can only be found on the electronic pages of Forever Faithful suggests that replacing Kruis and DeVries will be a difficult endeavor. Kruis was a very deserving MVP last year and DeVries only missed All-MIAA status due to what must be deemed massive oversight on the part of the league’s coaches.

DeVries didn’t shoot a lot – he took less than 20% of the team’s shots while on the floor – but he was super-efficient when he did try to score, racking up 1.22 points per weighted shot which put him behind only Jordan Brink among players receiving double-digit minutes per game (Kruis was right behind at 1.20 PPWS while shouldering the largest shooting load of any Calvin player). Also, rebounding.

Jordan Mast – perhaps the most efficient shooter we’ve seen – will also be missed. Not because he contributed something irreplaceable to last year’s squad, but because he represented incredible team depth. He was a known quantity with a competent set of skills – a rotation-quality player for a league championship team. That he was pushed aside for playing time was less to do with a particular deficiency in his game and more to do with the wealth of talent on the roster.

The only unexpected omission is Junior forward B.J. Van Loo. Some sleuthing (thanks to a hot internet tip) reveals that he has transferred back to Grace Bible College. Van Loo was almost surely going to be a rotation player, so, while he wasn’t a particularly efficient scorer or above-average defender, he was a known quantity with a reliable set of skills – a roughly average MIAA player – which makes him a valuable asset that will be missed. Average never gets enough credit.

Regarding the Roster, Who is on It

It’s tough to lose a league MVP, but for this year’s Calvin team that might be made easier by the presence of Jordan Brink, who’s likely the odds-on favorite to win the award this year. Having the best player in the league is a good thing. Again, that’s the hard-hitting analysis that you can only find here.

Brink is the rare player who can shoulder a tremendous shooting load and still hit a high percentage of shots. How efficient is he? If Caleb Veldhouse made field goals and free throws at the same rate as Brink, he would have added 278 points to his career total (or about 2.5 points per game). And he was a guy who already scored nearly 15 points per game.

Joining Brink in the starting backcourt will likely be Austin Parks. Parks spent much of the year coming off the bench, though he did start in the MIAA Championship Game (in place of Tyler Dykstra) as Calvin attempted (and succeeded) in matching up with Hope’s smaller, quicker lineup. He’s an exciting player who acquitted himself well in his first year of real action.

Jordan Daley should also return to the starting lineup, but I’m betting on him to shift to more of a 2/3 wing role. Like the aforementioned MIAA Championship contest, he’ll likely start at the nominal small forward position. Daley was a real treat to watch last year as a Sophomore; he blossomed into a rather efficient scorer and was a lockdown defender by season’s end. The Washington U. broadcasters could not stop raving about his defense in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Tyler Dykstra will mark his third year as a member of Calvin’s starting lineup. He’s a player we’re going to miss sorely after this season because he’s easy to take for granted. He’s not flashy unless he’s blocking a shot, and Calvin doesn’t run the offense through him, but at the end of the day he’s filled up the stat sheet and contributed in every facet of the game.  With Kruis out of the middle (where he was very effective), it’s possible we see more room open up for Dykstra to operate offensively.

Dan Stout should slide into the starting spot to replace Kruis. He’s been a solid role player for three seasons now, and his job this year is to take advantage of the opportunities that come. Calvin’s offense is going to be based on the perimeter, so Dan’s going to have the opportunity to do what he’s done so well off the bench: rebound, draw fouls, and knock down his shots from the line.

The sixth man right now looks like Sophomore Brad Visser. He was an exciting scorer who took on an ever expanding role as the season went on. Brad didn’t appear to lack for confidence as a freshman – he wasn’t afraid to hoist a shot – and that wasn’t a bad thing because he made a lot of them. He’ll probably need to be a bit more discerning with his selection, but he’s a guy who should always have the green light to launch an open three.

Also in the rotation will likely be Senior guard/forward T.J. Huizenga. Huizenga isn’t going to be a scorer, but he’s going to defend, rebound, hustle, and avoid mistakes. He’s a benchmark player. You’re not afraid to put him in the game, but if others are pushing him for playing time, it means you have a good team.

This is the exact point in the process where the thinking shifts from “dang, this is a pretty solid team” to “dang, who else is going to play?” Every player with notable varsity playing time has been named, and we’ve only named seven of the 14 players. This is concerning because of the unknown factor, but it’s also exciting because of the youth factor. Eight of the 14 players on the roster are underclassmen which isn’t a problem if they’re good.

Guard Danny Leach and big Michael Welch both split time between Varsity and JV last year and played in mop-up minutes with the big club. Of the two Welch is the more likely one to see a significant role increase (due to the experience mix between bigs and smalls on the roster), but both have upside and promise.

Joining them in the Sophomore ranks are Nick Kronemeyer and Seth Van Engen, both up from the JV squad. I must admit to knowing almost nothing about either one, except that they both also played football in high school.

Also in the ranks of the unknown are three freshmen: Connor VanderBrug, Tony Canonie, and Nick Goeglein. Of the three I’ve only received second hand reports on VanderBrug, but excitement surrounding him is exceedingly high.

Depth Chart

Depth chart by class looks like (with positions loosely assigned):

SRJRSOFR
GJordan BrinkAustin ParksNick Kronemeyer
G
Danny LeachTony Canonie
G/F TJ HuizengaJordan DaleyBrad Visser
FTyler DykstraSeth VanEngenConnor VanderBrug
CDaniel StoutMichael WelchNick Goeglein

Guessing at the playing rotation is difficult right now with so many new faces so I can guess nothing better than:

1234
GAustin ParksDanny LeachNick Kronemeyer
GJordan BrinkBrad VisserTony Canonie
G/FJordan DaleyTJ Huizenga
FTyler DykstraConnor VanderBrugSeth VanEngen
CDan StoutMichael WelchNick Goeglein

Uninformative, I know. I hate projecting freshmen into rotation roles, but I've read enough good things about VanderBrug to know that's not out of the question. But even with him I have eight rotation spots penciled in which means at least one of the remaining six should see major minutes, if not two more.

If it comes down to it, Parks, Brink, Daley, Visser, and Huizenga could lock down the 1-3 positions (though there's room for another player or two if they force their way in), but the Knights will certainly be in need of another 4/5 in the mix. I'll always give the nod to the guy who's been around (which is Welch), but that's nothing more than a guess.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

And So Graduates The Most Efficient Shooter Of The Generation

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Jordan Mast
Image probably used without permission.
One thing I haven’t done with much regularity over the past few years is update my Facebook status. One thing I have done is maintain an excel-based statistical record of Calvin basketball on my computer. I have seasonal data – at some level – for every year through 1998 which now makes 17 seasons.

One thing I do with the data is compile career totals for players.

It’s fun to look back and remember just how crazy-efficient Andy Draayer was as a shooter due to the high (1) quantity and (2) quality (in a percentage sense) of three point shots he took as a player. Draayer’s .611 career effective field goal percentage is crazy-good (especially considering the frequency with which he shot the ball), but it’s not the best.

The best mark, among the 66 players who hoisted at least 100 career field goal attempts* over this time span, is the .617 eFG% that Jordan Mast compiled over the last three seasons.

*The best mark without any sort of threshold applied is Michael Fabiyi’s 1.000 career eFG% (earned in 2011 by going 1-1 from the field).

Mast wasn’t like Draayer who could take over a game by knocking down extremely deep or contested three pointers, but he did have a role which he filled admirably. By netting the team more points per field goal attempt than any other player who donned the Maroon and Gold over the last 17 years.

Career Top 5 (1998-2014)

Rank
Player
Career FGA
Career eFG%
1
Jordan Mast
167
.617
2
Andy Draayer
671
.611
3
Brian Roelofs
173
.595
4
Derek Griffin
585
.592
5
Danny Rodts
569
.576

Active Career Top 5 (no minimum)

Rank
Player
Career FGA
Career eFG%
1
Jordan Brink
679
.566
2
Brad Visser
95
.542
3
Tyler Dykstra
337
.542
4
Jordan Daley
214
.519
5
T.J. Huizenga
67
.493

Graduating

Rank
Player
Career FGA
Career eFG%
1
Jordan Mast
167
.617
12
Mickey DeVries
366
.552
20
Tyler Kruis
848
.538

(For context, Calvin's average eFG% since 1998 is .511)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Calvin Flips the Bell Curve on Hope

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Jordan Brink thanks the Hope Athletic Department for the free net.


I went to the Wednesday, February 5 Calvin-Hope game at the DeVos Fieldhouse with a couple of friends. The refrain from the two of them (and a few others in our section) throughout the game was “Hope’s just faster and better than Calvin is”. I kept trying to say “but they’re not this good”.

It turned out that Hope was that good – on that night – but I tried to assure these friends of mine that what we just witnessed was something like a 2nd percentile result*. They only could chuckle at me – apparently I’ve developed something of a reputation for being overly-statistical in my discussion of the sport – but I truly believed it.

*Upon further investigation it appears that the 18-point Hope win was more like a 4th percentile result.

Hope turned out to be much better than I thought they might be early in the year, but I refused to believe that they were really any better than Calvin. The preponderance of evidence* suggested, to me, that they were not better than even strength with the Knights.

*Calvin outscored the rest of the MIAA by an average of 19.5 points per game; Hope outscored them by 15.5 points per game. Calvin outscored the quartet of Aquinas, Cornerstone, Carthage, and Wheaton by a total of 22 points; Hope was a -1 against these four (HFA probably doesn’t quite make up the difference).

And then Saturday came.

I was fully expecting a close game – one that Hope might win by virtue of home court advantage – but I rarely expect either side to pull away in this rivalry.

And then it was 13-2.

Nate VanArendonk slammed home a basket and suddenly we were all watching some terrible rerun of How I Met Your Mother (except no one would actually watch that show on purpose). It was the same dang thing all over again.

Alex Eidson was floating and hanging and hitting everything, Grant Neil was D-ing up everybody, Cody Stuive was just knocking home three-balls, VanArendonk was getting free for easy buckets, and Calvin was shooting like 7% from the floor as a team.

But then our old friend Regression To The Mean showed up, and Calvin started getting buckets. And then our even better friend (in this particular case) Regression Way Past The Mean came and took his place and stayed for the rest of the game. Calvin continued to attack Hope and ended up out-scoring the Dutchmen 76-40 over the final 34+ minutes of the game.

How did they do it? I really don’t know.

A lot of good luck, that’s for sure, but the three-guard approach (Austin Parks started instead of Tyler Dykstra) also seemed to reverse some of the matchup problems Hope caused for Calvin in the earlier meetings. And Calvin’s defense rarely allowed Hope’s offense to settle into comfortable offensive sets.

Calvin made terrific adjustments, had an excellent game plan, and executed the snot out of their assignments. That, mixed with a good amount of random variation, led us to a 98th percentile result (these according to Massey). It was completely the other side of the Bell Curve from the earlier meeting at the DeVos Fieldhouse.

I think it was a testament to the fact that, despite what the doom-and-gloomers say, Coach Vande Streek and the Knights can make the proper adjustments, and, despite what the doom-and-gloomers say, the bad results in the first two meetings with Hope had a good amount of bad luck mixed in.

Onward and upward.

Jordan Brink and the newly minted MIAA MVP Tyler Kruis have showed that they can both score (1) efficiently and (2) in bulk. I’m a little bit nervous about what would happen if a tournament opponent really did shut these two down, but Calvin has enough offensive weapons that they might still be able to make it work out. I haven’t adjusted the numbers for strength-of-schedule, but this year’s Calvin offense ranks as the most efficient (116.8 points per 100 possessions) of the last 12 years (as far back as the detailed numbers go online).

The defense isn’t as stifling as it was last year, but they’re still good (and slightly better than the average Calvin defense of the last 12 years).


The Washington U.-Wilmington-Wittenberg-Calvin pod isn’t going to be easy for the Knights, but I can assure you that none of the other three teams are tickled with the prospect of an early-round matchup with Calvin.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Calvin beats Kalamazoo

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The score was 86-59.

Analysis

Calvin is much better than Kalamazoo.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tipping Off The Season vs. Anderson

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Calvin tips off their regular season tonight in Anderson, IN as they take on the Anderson Ravens. Two years ago Anderson won the inaugural meeting by a 73-60 margin, but they’ve since had a coaching change and were in full-on rebuilding mode when Calvin won 98-56 at Van Noord Arena last year. Former Wheaton (Ill.) assistant Owen Handy is in his second year at the helm of the Ravens.

Anderson has played two games already and has taken two relatively bad losses. They lost 70-64 on opening night to perennial UAA also-ran Case Western Reserve and then by a 80-68 score the next night in the same CWRU Tournament to Otterbein (who was voted to finish 8th of 10 teams in the OAC by the coaches). We don’t really with certainty how good any of these teams are so early in the season, but those are both games that good teams win. Anderson was voted to finish 9th in the HCAC by the coaches.

Projected Lineup

G – Jordan Daley
G – Jordan Brink
F – Tyler Dykstra
F – Mickey DeVries
C – Tyler Kruis

Kyle MacDonald started the exhibition game vs. Ferris State, but Jordan Daley was the one in the game during crunch time, and then he also started in the Alumni scrimmage. I’m guessing he’s the nominal starter at this point.

Projected Rotation Players

Dan Stout
Kyle MacDonald
Jordan Mast
BJ Van Loo
Austin Parks

TJ Huizenga had played as sort of the 11th man and may be still in the mix, but coach Vande Streek is probably looking to pare down the rotation to 10 guys. I think, for now, Parks is in and Huizenga is out, but that’s just me guessing. If you’re looking to go 12 deep, Brad Visser is probably the man there.

The final margin of this game might be wide enough that at least 11 or 12 players will get into the game anyway. We’ll see how coach Vande Streek treats this game if it gets out of hand though. More than anything this Calvin team needs time for the rotation players to gel together – mostly the second five – so perhaps he stays away from the deep bench unless it gets really ugly.

Prediction


Massey’s still-too-early rankings give Calvin an 84% chance of winning, and projects the final margin to be 11, but I’d guess something closer to 15. Calvin lost to Ferris in the exhibition game because they lost the battle on the offensive glass. They won’t lose that battle in this game. At the risk of hubris, anything less than a 10 point win would be concerning.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Calvin Roster and Ferris State Exhibition Preview

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What the water tower really said.
We’re 12 days away from the official tip-off of the season – when Calvin heads to Anderson on November 19 – but in some ways this annual Ferris State exhibition game is more fun than the typical early-season game.

For one, Ferris is always as athletic as any team Calvin will see this season. Two, the expectations are low because Division II and Exhibition. And Three, we haven’t seen basketball for like eight months.
So what do I know about Ferris? Besides their continual attempts to ruin a perfectly excellent color combination, not very much. Last year Calvin lost 63-62 up in Big Rapids, the same -1 scoring margin that Massey would have predicted following the season. The final version of Kenneth Massey’s ratings had Calvin as four point favorites over Ferris on a neutral court, eight point favorites at home, and one point underdogs on the road.

What does that mean for this year? No idea. Probably nothing. Massey’s preseason historical-regression-based ratings (that he uses as a starting point but get damped out as the season goes on) has Calvin being two points worse overall but three point favorites at home. These ratings quite obviously have no idea who’s on what roster or how a team might perform with a new coach.

So the dummy-starter Massey ratings say 59%, but I’ll say closer to 40-45% (without really knowing Ferris’ roster). Really you could make an argument anywhere between 35-65% and I wouldn’t care. That’d represent something like a five point game in either direction.

Speaking of rosters, Calvin has a new one. Six players will be playing with the Varsity for the first time – either Freshmen, transfers, or former JV players – and another three have played basically only mop-up time in their young careers. It feels like there’s a lot of newness to the roster, and there is, but they actually return the second most varsity minutes played of any MIAA team this year, and that doesn’t count junior Kyle MacDonald (Jackson CC) and sophomore BJ Van Loo (Grace Bible) who have experience at the college level.

I don’t know a whole lot about MacDonald, but Coach VandeStreek spoke highly of him in the preseason audio interview, and, reading between the lines, it sounds like he will begin the season as the starter at the point.

Grace Bible doesn’t maintain a very comprehensive statistical archive on their website (read: no stats at all), but I was able to search engine my way to 12 of Van Loo’s box scores from last season (against schools like Calvin, Ferris, Davenport, Aquinas, Spring Arbor, Cornerstone, etc). He played 23 minutes per game with 10 points and 5 rebounds on a .522 effective field goal percentage (basically Calvin’s team average last year) in that sample. Those are pretty good numbers for a freshman, and I’m very comfortable with the competition level (average Massey rank of 1177, Calvin’s average MIAA opponents were 1199).

The frontcourt is going to be very strong. I realy have no read on who the starters will be (besides Tyler Kruis), but it almost doesn’t matter. I still think you go with Kruis-DeVries-Dykstra as your three most experienced and talented players even though both of the forwards are more of the ‘four’ types. I was initially thinking that perhaps we could see some of the bigger guards, like the Jordans Brink and Daley, be pushed up to play some three, but I think it might be more of the opposite. Someone like 6-5 Jordan Mast might be pushed down from somewhat of a ‘three’ to more of a ‘two’. If we’re talking 20+ minutes for Tyler Dykstra, Mickey DeVries, and BJ Van Loo plus some time at the ‘four’ for Dan Stout, there might be fewer than 10 minutes to spread around to fewer options. But that’s all well and good because the backcourt, though high in potential talent, is lower in experience level (especially if Jordan Brink is not at full-go).

Probable Starters and Rotation vs. Ferris

C – Tyler Kruis, Dan Stout
F – Mickey DeVries, Tyler Dykstra, Dan Stout
F – Tyler Dykstra, BJ Van Loo, Jordan Mast
G – Jordan (all)
G – Kyle MacDonald, Austin Parks

These are the 10 guys who I think will open the season in the primary rotation. For now that leaves junior TJ Huizenga, and newcomers Danny Leach, Brad Visser, and Eric Brower mostly at the end of the bench, but I wouldn’t be surprised for one or two of these guys to play versus Ferris (and/or eventually crack the rotation) as Coach KVS tries to figure out exactly how the roster fits together.


Prediction: I think Calvin is very probably the better team, but, I think for this game, the inexperience of the backcourt vs. the generally-more-athletic Division II guards is going to lead to a loss. That’s not a bad thing though, as I think they’ll have better long-term success if they use the game to experiment, learn, and grow rather than simply try to win the game. Ferris 70, Calvin 67

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Calvin’s Van Noord Arena a Finalist to Host Division III Final Four

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D3hoops.com unveiled the NCAA’s list of finalist locations for the 2014-2018 Division III basketball championships (both men’s and women’s), and Calvin’s Van Noord Arena is on both lists. Here’s the link to the story.
Men's basketball:Salem Civic Center (Salem, Va.)
Van Noord Arena (Calvin College campus)

Women's basketball:
Banker's Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Van Noord Arena
Salem Civic Center
Mayo Civic Center (Rochester, Minn.)
The D3hoops folks note that The VNA is the smallest of the four locations listed on the women’s side. That makes for a curious list as the women’s Final Four drew in the 1,000-1,300 neighborhood last year when it was hosted at Hope’s DeVos Fieldhouse. Van Noord’s 4,600 capacity (or whatever it really is) would be far larger than anything the women would conceivably need (save a Calvin or Hope Final Four run). Their (i.e. D3hoops / probably Pat Coleman’s) guess, which is a good one, is that we might be headed for a combined men’s/women’s Final Four weekend.

Also on both lists, however, is Salem, Virginia’s Civic Center which has hosted the men’s Final Four quite successfully for what I will lazily describe as ‘several’ years (except last year when they hosted the Elite Eight and Final Four rounds with the championship moving to Atlanta). It would be amazing fun to have the Final Four right in our back yard (almost quite literally for some of us), but I’m betting heavily on the NCAA to go the safe and boring route with Salem. Because the NCAA.

I would bet that Van Noord Arena would draw very well compared to Salem for the men’s Final Four. Just looking at the current Top 15 – a good sample of prennially strong teams – nine are obviously more drivable to Grand Rapids (particularly the CCIW and WIAC schools), two to four are so far away from either that it doesn’t matter, and maybe two or three are obviously closer to Salem. Maybe that means bigger crowds (which makes for a better atmosphere).

Potentially more motivation for the home teams too. Would be a huge boost to play for a title in front of a friendly crowd.