A pre-season roster that includes 10 returning players should put the Flying Dutchmen in a position to defend the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) title they won a year ago.
Matt Neil had quite a first season as head coach. The Flying Dutchmen were outright conference champions for the 35th time in school history, competed in the NCAA Division III tournament for the sixth consecutive year and posted a 23-7 overall record.
Pre-season optimism is running high. The roster of 15 players includes one freshman, four sophomores, six juniors and four seniors.
Co-captains of the team will be seniors Nate King of Sterling Heights (Henry Ford II HS), David Krombeen of Grandville (Grandville HS), and Logan Neil of Holland (West Ottawa HS).
The team is bolstered by the return of senior guard Peter Bunn of Lansing (Lansing Christian HS) who missed the 2010-11 season because of illness. He is a two-time All-MIAA honoree (second team as a sophomore and first team as a junior). He led the team in scoring in 2009-10 (16.1 ppg) and has a career scoring average of 11.7 ppg.
David Krombeen was an All-MIAA second team honoree a year ago. He topped the conference in steals (3.29 pg) and ranked second in assists (5.36 pg). His steals average ranked fifth-best in all of Division III.
Krombeen and Logan Neil were named to the 2010-11 Honors Court of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) for outstanding performance in the classroom. Krombeen is a psychology major and Neil is majoring in exercise science.
Other returning letterwinners are junior Chris Ray of Fort Wayne, Ind. (Homestead HS), junior Colton Overway of Holland (West Ottawa HS), junior Chase DeMaagd of Woodland (Barry County Christian HS), junior Nate Snuggerud of Zeeland (Zeeland East HS), junior Josh Holwerda of Gallup, N.M. (Rehoboth HS), and junior Billy Seiler of Chillicotte, Ill. (Illinois Valley Central HS).
Sophomores joining the varsity after a season on the jayvees include Cody Campbell of Swartz Creek (Swartz Creek HS), Craig Toren of Lynwood, Ill. (Illiana Christian HS), and Grant Neil of Holland (West Ottawa HS).
The lone freshman on the varsity is Stephen Wittenbach of Ada (Forest Hills Central HS). Joining the Hope program is sophomore Nate VanArendonk of Grand Haven (Grand Haven HS) who transfered from Division I Central Michigan University.
Logan and Grant Neil are the sons of coach Matt Neil. They are both starters on the Hope soccer team and will not be joining the team until that season concludes.
Unique to this team is that four players have fathers who played basketball at Hope -- Logan and Grant Neil, sons of Matt Neil '82; Josh Holwerda, son of Jim Holwerda '78,; and Nate Van Arendonk, son of Craig Van Arendonk '81.
An early season highlight will be playing Division I Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Hope last played a NCAA Division I team in basketball in 1991.
The season begins with a women's/men's home doubleheader against Rochester, Mich. on Tuesday, Nov. 15. It will be the first of five occasions when the men's and women's teams are at home on the same day. The annual Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic (Nov. 25-26 at Cornerstone) will have a new format with pre-determined matchups on both days. It will avoid a potential early Hope/Calvin encounter before the scheduled rivalry games on Jan. 18 (at Hope) and Feb. 11 (at Calvin). The team will not travel for a game outside of Michigan during the regular season.