Hope College men’s basketball opened their season this past weekend in the Great Lakes Invitational at Marietta College in Ohio. The first matchup for the Dutchmen was host Marietta on Friday night.
In a high-scoring and exciting game, Hope fell to Marietta 102- 71. Jason Beckman (’19), a newly minted Dutchman and transfer from Alma College, led the way for Hope in his first game as a Dutchman with 26 points, including four three-point baskets and six free throws. Dennis Towns (’19) had seven rebounds to lead the Dutchmen on the boards.
Hope suffered from the loss of captain Dante Hawkins (’18) to an injury late in the first half from which he did not return. The Dutchmen took the 0-1 start to their season in stride and looked to rally on Saturday when they faced off against St. John Fisher.
Hope did rally and took away a thrilling 97-86 win over St. John Fisher. After trailing at the halftime break, the Dutchmen returned to the game with adjustments that allowed them to claim the victory. Senior captain Hawkins did not return to play on Saturday. This allowed Riley Lewis (’20) an opportunity to step up in his role as guard. Lewis led the field with 26 points, coming off the bench for Hope to claim his career-high game. Preston Granger (’21) and Beckman both added 18 points apiece to round out the top three scoring games for the Dutchmen, with Granger also leading Hope on the boards with seven rebounds.
Hope also stepped up their defense in the second half after giving up 57 points in the first half, limiting St. John Fisher to only 29 points in the final 20 minutes of play. There have been no updates on Hawkins’s injury, and it is unclear whether or not he will miss any further games this season. He has an instrumental role on this Hope team in terms of experience, skill and leadership, so we can only hope that he will be back to full strength before too long.
The Dutchmen came home from Marietta with an even 1-1 record on the season, having already shown an ability to face adversity and bounce back after a tough loss.
The Dutchmen were ranked first in the MIAA pre-season coach’s poll, receiving four of seven possible first-place votes. However, this is a relatively young team, boasting six freshmen (Granger, Danny Beckman, Ryan Gamm, Max Gaishin, Calvin Hackert and Sam Vree) two sophomores (Matt Zandstra and Lewis), five juniors (Beckman, Towns, Teddy Ray, Jeff Goral and Rob McGivney) and two seniors who also act as team co-captains: Hawkins and Luke Dreyer.
This team’s youth and fresh energy will make them an exciting one to watch this season, with Coach Greg Mitchell and the Dutchmen looking to prove that they deserve their first-place pre- season ranking. No matter what, it’s guaranteed that basketball season at Hope will bring with it immense excitement and school pride, as the Dew Crew comes out in full force to support the Flying Dutchmen.
The Dutchmen won’t play at Hope for a while, but Hope’s home opener will be Tuesday, Dec. 5, as the Dutchmen take on Grace Bible College at DeVos Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m. Seats will likely fill fast, so students should get there early if possible. League play will open in early January with Hope facing off first against Trine at home on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
If you see Coach Mitchell and the team around campus, be sure to wish them good luck and good health as they get their 2017-2018 season rolling in practice and away games in the coming weeks.