Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ferris State Exhibition Preview

Game Preview
WhoFerris State Bulldogs (NCAA Div. II)
WhatExhibition Game
WhereJim Wink Arena -- Ferris State
WhenTuesday Nov. 6, 7:30 PM
AudioCalvin Stretch Internet
VideoFerris Stretch Internet ($7.95)
Live StatsFerris Stretch Internet
Tickets$7 at the door or online
Last YearCalvin 79, Ferris 72

When We Last Met
The Knights hosted the Bulldogs for last year’s exhibition game (I’m glad they’re now both agreeing to play this game during the exhibition season), and promptly won (for the first time in some time) by a 79-72 score.

The Bulldogs were a young bunch last year, but they finished their season above the .500 mark and tied for the GLIAC North Division crown. Massey rated them as the third best team Calvin saw all season (Hope and Wheaton both rated just a bit better). Exhibition caveats aside, this was – by far – the best offensive game Calvin played all year, posting an offensive efficiency rating of 108.9 (a mark they only bested versus the likes of Finlandia, Trinity, Olivet, and Kalamazoo). Ferris State traveled to Ann Arbor three days later to take on Michigan at Crisler Arena, and there they held the Wolverines to an offensive efficiency rating a shade above 95.

These two data points, unfortunately, meant nothing to the Knights going forward. They stumbled through their least efficient offensive season in well over a decade, and we learned that one game – no matter how good or bad it appears – is still just one game. And an exhibition is just an exhibition. Sometimes shots just go in, and sometimes they just don’t.

This Season
Ferris usually has more/better athletes than Calvin does, but this year the Knights appear to have a distinct size advantage. In an exhibition game with D1 Loyola (Chicago) on Saturday (a 61-46 loss), the Bulldogs used a starting lineup that ran 6-5, 6-4, 6-2, 5-11, and 5-10 (three of five starters return). Size isn’t everything (not even most things), and athleticism can make up for a lot, but Calvin will likely be going 6-9, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, and 6-1 in their starting lineup with Kruis, Dykstra, Snikkers, Brink, and Rietema (the lineup they employed versus GRCC). Ferris has a bit of size on the bench, but they only used two players taller than 6-6 in their exhibition game, and neither played more than 15 minutes.

Calvin, of course, only loses one player from a season ago, Brian Haverdink, and, although he was a starter, he was more of a role player than a key cog (offensively at least, he was often lauded for his defense). I think last year’s game was a fluke, and Ferris seems to play Calvin much better at their place, but I think the Knights will be competitive here.

I think the Knights need to be competitive here. Ferris will likely again compete with the teams in the top half of the GLIAC, but Calvin has their sights on an MIAA title and an NCAA tournament run, and to do that, they’ll need to compete with – and beat – teams of Ferris’ ilk. To do that, though, Calvin will need to tighten up the screws a bit, and they can’t allow Ferris’ probable speed and athleticism advantage force them into sloppy and careless play. Turnovers, quite obviously, kill offensive efficiency.

Calvin still doesn't have an established three point threat, but they’ll need to make a conscious effort of stretching the floor to allow more space in the middle for guys like Kruis, Snikkers, and Dykstra to work. The name of the game this season is going to be control and efficiency. They probably don't have the shooters to extend, or cut into, large leads quickly, so they'll have to make every possession count. That doesn't mean Calvin has to play slowly, they have the athletes to run when they need to, but they won't be able to afford wasted possessions with turnovers.

Sure-to-be Wrong Prediction
Both teams are likely to use the opportunity to experiment some with lineups. Coach Vande Streek usually likes to trim his rotation down to nine or ten guys, but I would be surprised if 11 or 12 see the floor in this game to see how they react and perform against quality competition. I think Calvin stays in the game to the end, but I don’t think they win it.

Ferris 74, Calvin 70

Be nervous if: Calvin loses the rebound battle.
Laugh with glee if: Calvin turns the ball over fewer than 12 times.

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