National Exposure

Dancin' in Branson

About This Photoblog

The crowd reacts after a hustle play by Kyle Lindbergh and Trevor Wolterstorff results in a layup during the February 22 game against Concordia..

The crowd reacts after a hustle play by Kyle Lindbergh and Trevor Wolterstorff results in a layup during the February 22 game against Concordia.

 

The De Witt Gymnasium was rocking this year. Those who followed the Dordt College men’s basketball team had real reasons to get extra excited about spending a few Wednesday evening or Saturday afternoon hours on campus. The loyal Defender fan base could see it from the start; this season would be a little different from years past. The naysayers quickly pointed to the last few years–a hot start followed by a mid-season slump; that’s the Dordt M.O., they said. The inevitable first loss came after reeling 15 straight wins. Here we go, the doubters said. But the fans stayed interested. The Defenders fought through an entire regular season and finished with just three losses. There were no gimmes on the schedule, either.

What made the season different? Another year under their young belts? Their hard work in the off-season? The summer trip to Chicago to put on a camp? Yes, yes, and definitely yes. But behind that all is a solid group of individuals excited about what they can do as a team. Team chemistry has been fundamental to what the Defenders have accomplished thus far. The coaching staff has been preaching that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And the players have bought in. It starts with individuals who have their heads on pretty straight to begin with. There has been little evidence of the need to keep egos in check. We’ve witnessed it. What gets Sievers the most pumped? Seeing someone else score off a dish. What does Lindbergh hang his hard hat on? Grinding away on defense. And what do you see out of the all-american Wolterstorff? He fills in where needed–on that night, during that possession, or in that moment.

That’s my perspective. But I want to give you a few more perspectives. I’m stalking following four people during the Defenders’ stay at nationals to try to portray where they’re coming from: Dale Vander Berg, the loyal fan; Kyle Hiemstra, the assistant coach; TJ Malone, the lone senior player; and Barb Mellema, the energetic college rep.

Let’s get this started.

Jamin Ver Velde