Monday, October 20, 2014

Calvin Releases 2014-15 Men's Basketball Roster

Calvin’s Men’s Basketball roster was released on the school’s official athletic website today, giving us our first glimpse of the 2014-15 Knights.

Regarding the Roster, Who is Not on It

It comes as no surprise – but it is still perhaps worth spending a few words here – that the three players from last year’s roster who had exhausted their NCAA eligibility are not found on this year’s version of said roster. These players are, of course, Tyler Kruis, Mickey DeVries, and Jordan Mast.

The type of hard-hitting analysis that can only be found on the electronic pages of Forever Faithful suggests that replacing Kruis and DeVries will be a difficult endeavor. Kruis was a very deserving MVP last year and DeVries only missed All-MIAA status due to what must be deemed massive oversight on the part of the league’s coaches.

DeVries didn’t shoot a lot – he took less than 20% of the team’s shots while on the floor – but he was super-efficient when he did try to score, racking up 1.22 points per weighted shot which put him behind only Jordan Brink among players receiving double-digit minutes per game (Kruis was right behind at 1.20 PPWS while shouldering the largest shooting load of any Calvin player). Also, rebounding.

Jordan Mast – perhaps the most efficient shooter we’ve seen – will also be missed. Not because he contributed something irreplaceable to last year’s squad, but because he represented incredible team depth. He was a known quantity with a competent set of skills – a rotation-quality player for a league championship team. That he was pushed aside for playing time was less to do with a particular deficiency in his game and more to do with the wealth of talent on the roster.

The only unexpected omission is Junior forward B.J. Van Loo. Some sleuthing (thanks to a hot internet tip) reveals that he has transferred back to Grace Bible College. Van Loo was almost surely going to be a rotation player, so, while he wasn’t a particularly efficient scorer or above-average defender, he was a known quantity with a reliable set of skills – a roughly average MIAA player – which makes him a valuable asset that will be missed. Average never gets enough credit.

Regarding the Roster, Who is on It

It’s tough to lose a league MVP, but for this year’s Calvin team that might be made easier by the presence of Jordan Brink, who’s likely the odds-on favorite to win the award this year. Having the best player in the league is a good thing. Again, that’s the hard-hitting analysis that you can only find here.

Brink is the rare player who can shoulder a tremendous shooting load and still hit a high percentage of shots. How efficient is he? If Caleb Veldhouse made field goals and free throws at the same rate as Brink, he would have added 278 points to his career total (or about 2.5 points per game). And he was a guy who already scored nearly 15 points per game.

Joining Brink in the starting backcourt will likely be Austin Parks. Parks spent much of the year coming off the bench, though he did start in the MIAA Championship Game (in place of Tyler Dykstra) as Calvin attempted (and succeeded) in matching up with Hope’s smaller, quicker lineup. He’s an exciting player who acquitted himself well in his first year of real action.

Jordan Daley should also return to the starting lineup, but I’m betting on him to shift to more of a 2/3 wing role. Like the aforementioned MIAA Championship contest, he’ll likely start at the nominal small forward position. Daley was a real treat to watch last year as a Sophomore; he blossomed into a rather efficient scorer and was a lockdown defender by season’s end. The Washington U. broadcasters could not stop raving about his defense in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Tyler Dykstra will mark his third year as a member of Calvin’s starting lineup. He’s a player we’re going to miss sorely after this season because he’s easy to take for granted. He’s not flashy unless he’s blocking a shot, and Calvin doesn’t run the offense through him, but at the end of the day he’s filled up the stat sheet and contributed in every facet of the game.  With Kruis out of the middle (where he was very effective), it’s possible we see more room open up for Dykstra to operate offensively.

Dan Stout should slide into the starting spot to replace Kruis. He’s been a solid role player for three seasons now, and his job this year is to take advantage of the opportunities that come. Calvin’s offense is going to be based on the perimeter, so Dan’s going to have the opportunity to do what he’s done so well off the bench: rebound, draw fouls, and knock down his shots from the line.

The sixth man right now looks like Sophomore Brad Visser. He was an exciting scorer who took on an ever expanding role as the season went on. Brad didn’t appear to lack for confidence as a freshman – he wasn’t afraid to hoist a shot – and that wasn’t a bad thing because he made a lot of them. He’ll probably need to be a bit more discerning with his selection, but he’s a guy who should always have the green light to launch an open three.

Also in the rotation will likely be Senior guard/forward T.J. Huizenga. Huizenga isn’t going to be a scorer, but he’s going to defend, rebound, hustle, and avoid mistakes. He’s a benchmark player. You’re not afraid to put him in the game, but if others are pushing him for playing time, it means you have a good team.

This is the exact point in the process where the thinking shifts from “dang, this is a pretty solid team” to “dang, who else is going to play?” Every player with notable varsity playing time has been named, and we’ve only named seven of the 14 players. This is concerning because of the unknown factor, but it’s also exciting because of the youth factor. Eight of the 14 players on the roster are underclassmen which isn’t a problem if they’re good.

Guard Danny Leach and big Michael Welch both split time between Varsity and JV last year and played in mop-up minutes with the big club. Of the two Welch is the more likely one to see a significant role increase (due to the experience mix between bigs and smalls on the roster), but both have upside and promise.

Joining them in the Sophomore ranks are Nick Kronemeyer and Seth Van Engen, both up from the JV squad. I must admit to knowing almost nothing about either one, except that they both also played football in high school.

Also in the ranks of the unknown are three freshmen: Connor VanderBrug, Tony Canonie, and Nick Goeglein. Of the three I’ve only received second hand reports on VanderBrug, but excitement surrounding him is exceedingly high.

Depth Chart

Depth chart by class looks like (with positions loosely assigned):

GJordan BrinkAustin ParksNick Kronemeyer
Danny LeachTony Canonie
G/F TJ HuizengaJordan DaleyBrad Visser
FTyler DykstraSeth VanEngenConnor VanderBrug
CDaniel StoutMichael WelchNick Goeglein

Guessing at the playing rotation is difficult right now with so many new faces so I can guess nothing better than:

GAustin ParksDanny LeachNick Kronemeyer
GJordan BrinkBrad VisserTony Canonie
G/FJordan DaleyTJ Huizenga
FTyler DykstraConnor VanderBrugSeth VanEngen
CDan StoutMichael WelchNick Goeglein

Uninformative, I know. I hate projecting freshmen into rotation roles, but I've read enough good things about VanderBrug to know that's not out of the question. But even with him I have eight rotation spots penciled in which means at least one of the remaining six should see major minutes, if not two more.

If it comes down to it, Parks, Brink, Daley, Visser, and Huizenga could lock down the 1-3 positions (though there's room for another player or two if they force their way in), but the Knights will certainly be in need of another 4/5 in the mix. I'll always give the nod to the guy who's been around (which is Welch), but that's nothing more than a guess.

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