Justin Pastoor-Staff Writer
“The game always has, and will always be, about buckets.”
A quote made famous by NBA point guard Kyrie Irving seems to be evident in Coach Ross Douma’s fifth year at the helm of Dordt College’s men’s basketball team. Through the team’s first 13 games, the Defenders have increased this year’s scoring average from an already impressive 84 points per game to a scorching hot 94 ppg in the first portion of the season.
Coach Douma attributes this to a number of sources.
“A lot of this is largely due to a change in rules and foul calling,” said Douma. “Hand checks and other defensive fouls are allowing for more attempts from the free throw line and more opportunities to put the ball in.”
“The other side of it is our increased tempo. We have numerous players who can take the ball up the court leading to more breaks and faster breaks in transition.”
This surge in offensive production is largely in part to the leadership of Dordt’s two latest 1,000 point club members – and seniors – Kyle Lindbergh and Austin Katje.
Lindbergh, former GPAC Defensive Player of the Year, has led the team in scoring with just shy of 18 ppg.
“Kyle is a versatile player. After losing Jordan [Vogel] and Chris [Sievers] last year, we needed someone to score around the basket, and he seemed to be a natural fit,” said Douma. “He works well with both hands, draws fouls and mismatches and gets putbacks on offensive rebounds.”
The other side of the tandem, Katje, a 3-point specialist his entire career, has added 13.2 ppg. Over half of his shots this year have come from beyond the arc, hitting at a sky high 46.8 percent after shooting 37.6 percent from deep the previous three years.
“The leadership from these two has been tremendous. Not only have they increased the abilities of themselves, but they have made the players around them better and, along with the other upperclassmen, have allowed our freshman to work into their roles on this team,” Douma said.
Along with the team’s two seniors, freshman Dalton Franken has contributed 15.2 ppg and junior Tyler Wolterstorff has added 12.1. Lindbergh has led the team in rebounds thus far with 9.8 per game. Sophomore Nathan Rindels is second in rebounds with five per game while leading the team in assists with 3.8 per game.
Although eight players on Douma’s varsity roster are freshman, the wins for the team haven’t stopped coming. The team is off to a 12-1 start with key wins over Midland – pre-season pick to win the GPAC – and Briar Cliff, then undefeated in conference play.
The sole loss on the year came to No. 10 ranked Davenport on Nov. 8.
The Defenders currently sit at No. 11 in the national rankings.
After a trip to Mitchell, S.D., to face Dakota Wesleyan at the Corn Palace, the team returns back to the DeWitt to tip off against Hastings College for a battle for first place in the GPAC.