Outside of the Dordt men's basketball program, there wasn't a lot of confidence in what this year's team would be able to accomplish. But this week's SportsFource Champions have been using that doubt as a motivating factor and now they're one of the top teams in the country.
After winning the GPAC tournament and advancing to the Elite Eight of the national tourney last year, Dordt wasn't shown a lot of respect heading into this season. They were selected to finish fifth in the conference preseason poll and weren't in the Top 25 rankings.
"We graduated a lot of good seniors a year ago," Head Coach Douma said. "Roughly 6,000 points, a couple of All-Americans."
"I just took it as a sign that we had something to prove as a team, as a unit, that we weren't getting the respect I thought we deserved," senior Austin Katje added.
While there was uncertainty, led by seniors Kyle Lindbergh and Austin Katje, the Defenders had a simple goal in mind.
"We didn't come right out trying to win the National Championship," senior Adam Lindbergh said. "You start small thinking your going to be the best every day"
After jumping out a 19-2 start, which includes wins over two top 10 teams, the Defenders are no long flying under the radar, climbing to fifth in the national poll.
"We kind of went out there with a chip on our shoulder and tried to prove right away to everybody in the beginning of the season we were for real and that we were going to be around the whole year."
Despite losing 80 percent of their offensive output from a year ago, the Defenders are getting plenty of production. Even with three new starters in the rotation, all five starters averaging double-figures.
The squad is one of the top shooting teams in the nation, ranking 13th in field goal percentage making nearly half of all their shots.
"I think this group plays with a lot of pride," Douma said. "I think they've heard a lot of people say perhaps we were going to fall off and have a drastic fall off, and I think these guys are doing all they can to ensure that they have a successful year."
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