Friday, November 18, 2011

Calvin Tip-off Tournament Preview

Games Two and Three
Grace Bible (NCCAA II #1)
WhatCalvin Tip-off Tournament
WhereVan Noord Arena
WhenFriday 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM
Saturday 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM
AudioStretch Internet
VideoStretch Internet
StatsLive Stats

This is pretty much going to be a preview of the Calvin-Grace game for two reasons. (1) I may (or may not) make another preview post for tomorrow's game and (2) I don't care about either of the other teams.

When We Last Met
I don't think there is a single Calvin fan that needs to be reminded that the Knights are riding a two game skid versus the Bible Tigers from down the street. In last year's meeting, Calvin saw a nine point lead turn into a one-point loss in the final five minutes of the game.

About Grace Bible
The Tigers no longer have Allen Durham, he's playing professional ball in Romania, but they still do have several quality players, notably seniors Ryan Krombeen, Cory Jamieson, Matt Kurtz, and John Oostema. I would find it very hard to believe that they're anywhere near as good as they were the last couple of years, but that's not to say they're not a solid team capable of beating the Knights again. I don't think Calvin will be looking past them at all.

Grace has seven real games under their belts plus an exhibition game, and they have a few head scratching results. First, they had an impressive showing in a three point loss to the #2 NAIA-II team, Indiana Wesleyan (who recently beat #6 Cornerstone), and then they squeaked out a one point win over a bad looking Madonna squad, and then they had an impressive 15 point win over the #12 NAIA-II team, College of the Ozarks.

I was able to find stats for their games against Madonna, Indiana Wesleyan, and their exhibition match against Ferris State. In those three games, their pace seemed a little bit fast (about 76 possessions per game), they shot the ball well (.530 eFG%), struggled with turnovers (25% TOr), and ended up with an average looking offense.

I calculate an offensive efficiency rating of 100.8 over those three games. That's not terribly good, but the competition level I'm looking at is pretty tough. I would say the stats are neither encouraging nor discouraging. Grace likely is who we think they are -- an experienced team that will play disciplined basketball and won't beat themselves.

Calvin will have to win the rebound battle to win this game, and they're not going to be able to give Grace the type of close-up looks at the basket that they allowed versus Anderson. On offense, the name of the game is trusting yourself and trusting your teammates without forcing the issue. Against Grace, everything seems to be about fundamentals.

The Other Two
Rounding out the tournament are the D'Youville Spartans from Buffalo, New York and the Willamette Bearcats from Salem, Oregon. D'Youville is downright terrible (they lost their season opener on Tuesday by 48 points (allowing 141 points in the process). I wouldn't call Willamette terrible, but they're not very good either. The Bearcats only managed seven wins last year, but one win did come against a pretty solid Lewis and Clark team. Unlike D'Youville (Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference), Willamette plays in a pretty strong conference (Northwest Conference). I'll figure Willamette to win this one. Perhaps even comfortably.

Sure-to-be-wrong Prediction
I'll take Willamette over D'Youville by 8 and Calvin over Grace Bible by 7.
Then Calvin over Willamette by 16.

None of these match-ups would be in-region games, so they don't "matter" much as far as potential tournament selection is concerned. Wins would be huge for morale, however.

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