Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fear, Elation, Reality

Calvin 79, Ferris State 72 (box score)

Fear
I really had no idea how this game would play out. Ferris State is always a very fast and athletic team, and they're always good enough to give Calvin a battle (and usually they win). Would they come out and beat the tar out of the young Knights? Would they force 30 turnovers, shoot nearly 60%, and leave no room for optimism? That's what I was afraid of.

Calvin had (and still has) a lot of question marks heading into the year, and although they didn't eliminate all of our doubts this evening, they did prove to us that our worst fears probably aren't coming true.

Elation
I said in my game preview that Calvin fans should be ecstatic with a win. Well, they won, and I'm nearly there. They beat a pretty tough opponent and, although there were some bumps along the way, they looked pretty darn good doing it. Everyone that played showed flashes of being a solid contributor this season. They probably don't have the top-end talent that we're used to seeing from a Calvin team (excepting Tom Snikkers, of course), but they went eleven deep tonight and I never noticed a drop off on either end of the floor. They have the type of roster that will allow for near limitless combinations and possibilities, and we may end up feeling pretty confident with each one.

Now, Ferris State isn't going to be an outstanding Division II team this year -- they lost several of their top players to graduation, most notably All-American Justin Keenan -- but they're probably also just about as tough a team as Calvin will see all year. It's encouraging to see Calvin put up good numbers in their first showing, especially against a quality team.

Calvin's offensive efficiency rating (points scored per 100 possessions) for the game was 108.9 (the average for last season was 107.3). They hit or exceeded 108.9 ten times last year, winning nine of the games.

Calvin's defensive efficiency rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) against Ferris was 99.2 (the average last year was 100.3). They held their opponent to a 99.2 or lower rating 12 times last year, winning 10 of the games.

That's the recipe for success. They were solid on both ends of the floor against a solid opponent. If they can repeat these types of numbers throughout the year, then we'd be looking at a team that ended up winning 18-20 games.

Reality
But we really can't take too, too much away from this game because, after all, it was an exhibition game. Our Knights made us proud, but they are an inexperienced bunch, and we should expect to witness some struggles down the road.

In the end, this was just one game and it didn't even count. Let's take away some positives, identify some weaknesses, and get ready for the real thing to begin.

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