Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Predicting the 2014 Depth Chart / Player Rotation

It’s always dangerous to predict a sort of depth chart when we (1) don’t know the roster and (2) don’t even fully know who’s trying out, but nothing that’s completely safe is ever fun, so let’s go. This exercise comes with the caveat that I probably have no idea what I’m talking about, so take any and all necessary precaution.

5 / Center:

Center is the easiest position to figure out because it’s going to be 100% – barring injury or something unforeseen – 100% the same as last year.

Tyler Kruis is obviously not changing here. He received basically 26 minutes per game last year and could/should see a bump up to 27 or 28 (and pushed to 30 in the bigger games), but frontline depth is probably the smallest concern for the Calvin Knights heading into the 2013-14 season so squeezing out extra minutes from Tyler won’t be a huge issue. I’m just saying this off the cuff without really thinking about it, but the senior should start the year on the shortlist of MIAA MVP candidates.

Dan Stout took a big step forward last season. He didn’t see A Ton Of Time – basically 13 minutes – but he proved to be an outstanding rebounder, a good shot blocker, and an very efficient scorer. He can step out and hit a jump shot, but his bread and butter was drawing fouls (particularly off of an offensive rebound) and knocking down his free throws (over 74%). He’s probably earned more minutes, but with Kruis in front of him he’ll be relegated to whatever playing time is left.

4 / Forward:

Mickey DeVries had an excellent year off the bench for the Knights a season ago, and I think he has a very good chance of cracking the lineup this season. He played roughly 19 minutes per game last season, but could see that go up to as many as 24 this year. DeVries was mostly a hard-nosed rebounder in his first year with the Knights, but he developed into an efficienct scorer as well a season ago. He could stand to improve his free throw percentage and probably pass on the longer of his jump shot opportunities, but I shouldn’t get negative here. Mickey was really really good last year.

Tyler Dykstra is probably the nominal backup here. Not because he’s getting bumped from the lineup, but because I have him as the starter at the other forward spot. Tyler didn’t look to shoot a lot last season, but, when he did, he was the most efficient scorer in the starting lineup. He’ll probably gobble up the remaining 16 (or so) minutes at this position unless Coach VandeStreek thinks Dan Stout needs more playing time in which case we might see a small handful of minutes with both he and Kruis on the floor.

3 / Forward:

This is the hardest of the five positions to peg a nominal starter. Given the players returning from last year’s roster my perception of the plan at the position is:

                A: hope Tyler Dykstra is a ‘three’.
                B: there is no B.

In all seriousness though, there is simultaneously (1) plenty of options but (2) plenty of playing time available for someone to step up.

Dykstra showed some wing tendencies last year by hitting 35% of his 30 three point attempts, so he can help spread the floor a little bit. He’ll likely be the primary ‘backup’ (not the right word) at the other forward position*, so, although I think he’s the ‘starter’ here, I don’t think he’ll be getting the most minutes at the position.

*I think it’s easy to over emphasize the difference between a possible ‘3’ and ‘4’ and also ‘2’ and ‘3’ at this level.

It would be incredibly nice to have Mitch Vallie available to fill in the gap here but, alas, he has decided to pursue further educational opportunities across the state at Oakland University. Two non-Freshman options include Jordan Mast and Jordan Daley.

I’m a big proponent of Mast and his .471 career three point percentage and, although he didn’t play a lot last year, he has experience as one of the regular members of the rotation two years ago after All The Injuries happened. He’s not going to make a lot of plays for himself on offense, but he’ll knock down tons of threes if given the chance.

Daley is probably more of a guard – and I think he’ll be in the rotation as a ‘two’ – but his 6-3 frame would make him big enough to play some as a forward or as a third guard in a three-guard set. Again with the thing about position designations not being a huge big deal. T.J. Huizenga could also be in a similar position as well.

I think the forward spots are particularly interesting because DeVries and Dykstra offer enough flexibility with the lineups that any number of players could prove themsevles worthly of time at either the ‘three’ or ‘four’ and the Knights could adjust accordinly with the proper number of minutes. Then again, they have enough in these spots that they don’t really need anyone unexpected to step up as a major contributor.

2 / Guard:

According to his own accounts media sociale, Jordan Brink underwent foot surgery last month to correct an injury that had been nagging him all summer. That’s obviously less than ideal news for the basketballing world, but my understanding (so, so limted understanding) is that he could/should be ready to resume workouts around the time that practice opens up and stands a decent chance of being ready to go once real games start in mid-November.

A handful of candidates probably exist to see playing time as the primary backup (see the later paragraphs of 3 / Forward), but I’m going to wager a guess that it’s Jordan Daley who opens the year in this spot. He was the only Freshman to crack the varsity roster out of fall practice (if my memory serves), and, even though he eventually split time with the JV squad to get some minutes in, always seemed to me to be the one being groomed for future playing time.

1 / Guard:

No David Rietema, no Bryan Powell, and now no Ryan Nadeau who has transferred to fulfill his dream of attending Michigan State. I would have penciled in Nadeau as the probable starter here, but really now Austin Parks is the only returner (using that sort of loosely) at the point guard position. Parks spent the full year with the JV team, but also was dressing with the Varsity team by the end of the year. He didn’t play very much with the Varsity, but he proved in JV ball that he can really shoot the three.

Jordan Brink could be sort of the emergency option at the point (assuming he’s healthy), but I think Calvin has found a Freshman who could get a shot in one Brad Visser. Visser (Calvin Christian) was reportedly heading to Central Michigan as a walk-on before deciding late to come to Calvin instead. Limited internet Googling suggests that he’s probably more of a combo-guard or eventual two-guard than a pure point guard (a la Jordan Brink), but he apparently played the point in high school and could get an opportunity to crack the rotation right away.


C: Kruis – 27 min, Stout – 13 min
F: DeVries – 24 min, Dykstra – 14 min, Stout – 2 min
F: Dykstra – 12 min, Mast – 18 min, Daley – 5 min, Huizenga – 5 min
G: Brink – 25 min, Daley – 15 min
G: Parks – 21 min, Visser – 19 min

Again, this is my simply my perception based on how things ended up last year and how they look going forward. I don’t typically like to include Freshmen in things like this, but I was made aware of Visser and the internet tells me that he’s probably the type of player who could contribute right away. That’s not to say that other freshmen and/or JV players couldn’t end up in this rotation, it’s a bonus if they do.

Speaking of JV players

I think two former JV-ers will join the varsity team this year. Austin Heemskerk, 6-7 forward, could come up this year and compete for rotation time at a forward spot. Eric Brower, 6-8 center, will also likely be on the roster. I don’t think he’ll have a chance to play outside of mop-up time (Kruis and Stout have that position on lock-down), but Calvin will want to continue to try to develop him for the future. You know, in case Dan Stout can’t play 40 minutes per game the following year.

That leaves probably two spots for additional freshmen and/or JV players which feels about right.

Summary Opinion

I think this roster will be pretty good at a minimum with a chance to be very, very good if a few things break right (i.e. one or two player break out). Injuries, as always, could derail things, but there’s enough here to withstand mild disaster scenarios while still competing for a top-two spot in the league in what’s probably a down year for the MIAA (there have been more downs than ups lately).

It’s going to be interesting to see where the extra scoring is going to come from – Tom Snikkers, Bryan Powell, David Rietema, Matt DeBoer, and Mitch Vallie accounted for 35 points per game a season ago, 47% of the team’s points – but they’ll have plenty of opportunities as the departing group collectively played 46% of the minutes and took 51% of the shots.

I think the interesting thing about the roster this upcoming year is that it both has plenty of experience – there are no questions about Kruis, Stout, DeVries, Dykstra, and Brink – while also providing an opportunity for as many as four youngsters to step up, gain experience and prove themselves on the floor. They’re losing a lot from last year, but they are also returning a good core group which means they don’t need a lot from unproven to still be pretty good.

Leaving / Returning Chart

Players Leaving
Players Returning

We’re going to have to see how the numbers change with more shot attempts, but the players who are returning were ultra-efficient last year, netting 1.15 points per weighted shot (basically points per attempt to score). But in the end it’s not so much returning players replacing leaving players it’s new players replacing leaving players and returning players just stepping things up a little bit.

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