Thursday, November 7, 2013

Calvin Roster and Ferris State Exhibition Preview

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

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