Hope and Calvin to meet Saturday in an empty arena

204th meeting tips off at 3 p.m. at Van Noord Arena
Posted at 11:04 PM, Jan 28, 2021
Hope and Calvin to meet Saturday in an empty arena

The Hope College men's basketball team has yet to play a game this season.

COVID-19 protocols have resulted in the Flying Dutchmen's first game being moved to Friday.

"I think it is really easy to fall into the narrative of 'this is so difficult and this is horrible' but we've tried to choose the other and just be grateful for what we have, the opportunity to play," Hope head coach Greg Mitchell said.

The Flying Dutchmen will be attempting to make up for lost time with games schedulded for Friday, Saturday and Monday.

"I think we are excited just because we have been without a game for so long," Hope senior forward Preston Granger said. "We were like 'yeah, let's play as many games as we can.' Obviously we would like to be able to prepare for Calvin and Albion and some of these teams but it is what it is, I think we are just ready to get on the court and play."

On the other side, Calvin has played five games which includes a close loss at division one Eastern Michigan and three wins in four non-conference games against MIAA opponents.

"We are really having a lot of success in transition and trying to get our freshman involved," Knights senior guard Thad Shymanski said. "Losing a lot of our starters last year I think we really gelled together this year as a team and are hopefully able to keep that going."

Calvin is young, starting two freshman and a sophomore and of course there are a lot of variables playing this season from testing to practicing differently.

"These are the challenges," Knights head coach Bill Sall said. "The challenge of playing in a mask, making sure the masks are up, you got to coach guys mask apparel and how they wear it. I think there is tons of challenges but it always comes down to one result, right? We are playing hoops and if this is what it takes, we are going to do it."

With no fans allowed at MIAA games this season, the players intensity is paramount.

"That is one of our big keys every game is to be louder than the other team," Calvin senior forward Emmett Warners said. "I think that really helps us, especially when we go on stretches, scoring stretches or getting stops. I really think that helps to have the bench there."

While the players are thrilled just to have the chance to play, there is no question they will miss the atmosphere that usually comes with the rivalry game between Hope and Calvin.

"I'm trying to have a positive perspective," Granger said. "Obviously it is a huge bummer that we won't have people there because playing at Calvin in the funnest game of the year. It is kind of fun being the villain, going in there and being the bad guy."

The Flying Dutchmen and Knights are scheduled for a 3 p.m. tip on Saturday and the game can be see on WGVU.