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Northwestern men's basketball builds foundation, off to 7-0 start entering the week

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Morningside vs Northwestern basketball

Northwestern's Trent Hilbrands shoots a three-pointer as Morningside's Zach Imig leaps to block him during Morningside vs Northwestern college basketball action, Tuesday, in Sioux City, Iowa, Nov. 24, 2020.

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Kris Korver likes three things about Alex Van Kalsbeek.

“He’s coachable, he’s a hard worker, and he’s humble,” the Northwestern College men’s basketball coach said.

Van Kalsbeek also scores the majority of the points for the Red Raiders, and he’s a key reason why the Red Raiders are 7-0 as of Monday night and heading into the Dordt Classic this weekend.

Van Kalsbeek, an MOC-Floyd Valley High School turned Northwestern sophomore, has led the Red Raiders in scoring in all seven games, and has averaged 24.3 points per game.

Van Kalsbeek has scored 20-plus points in six of those wins, as Viterbo (Wis.) is the only team who has limited the former Dutch standout.

The Red Raiders sophomore has shot 66 percent from the floor, and Van Kalsbeek has made 24 of 28 free throws.

After having a breakout freshman season, Korver wants Van Kalsbeek’s game to evolve even more.

He can handle the ball, even for a 6-foot-6 forward. He doesn’t just score with his back to the basket.

Van Kalsbeek also creates opportunities as a passer, and gives himself and teammates chances to score.

“Defenses are obviously going to be centered on him, and he’s worked at that,” Korver said. “We have to let him be him. We need to let him have some freedom.”

Of course, it’s not just Van Kalsbeek who is doing the scoring for Northwestern.

Senior Trent Hilbrands is averaging 18.0 ppg so far, and the change to the 3-point line hasn’t affected him.

So far this season, Hilbrands has made 41 percent of his 3s. The Remsen, Iowa, native is 23-for-55 from beyond the 22-foot, 3-point line.

Hilbrands has reached double figures in all seven games. His season high so far is a 30-point game on Nov. 5 against Peru State. In that game, he was 7 of 12 from deep, and he made 10 total field goals against the Bobcats.

During the GPAC opener against Doane over the weekend, Hilbrands scored 11 points, including three made 3s.

Korver said before the season he didn’t think it was going to be a factor.

“He’s been in so many big basketball games in the GPAC and in the national tournament, we’re just looking forward to his veteran leadership,” Korver said. “I’m excited to watch him lead and perform. It’ll be a lot of fun.

“It’ll be interesting to see how defensive schemes play out when teams figure out shooting percentages,” Korver said. “The goal of the 3-point line going back is to create more space. It’s going to be interesting to see how much defensive schemes change.”

Three other players may cross the 100-point mark for the season this weekend at the Dordt Classic.

Matt Onken entered the week as Northwestern’s third leading scorer, averaging 11.1 ppg. He’s a redshirt sophomore from Marshall, Minn.

He’s had four games in double figures, including a 22-point game against Mayville State in late October. He’s shooting 58 percent from the floor, and has went 5 of 7 against the V-Hawks and 4-for-6 against the Doane Tigers.

Grant DeMeulenaere has scored 68 points on the season while Noah Slagter has one less point.

“The best part of last year is that those guys gained a lot of experience in the GPAC Tournament and a team that got to experience a couple extra weeks with a national tournament,” Korver said. “Grant got more minutes after Trent got hurt and got to play in a GPAC Championship game. Those are important games. They have a good foundation.”


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