Eric Peterson, Published January 24 2012
Peterson: VanHavermaet’s patience leads to increased role
The Minnesota State Moorhead fifth-year senior – who started regularly early in his Dragons career – didn’t play in two exhibition games or the team’s season opener against Valley City State. He logged just nine minutes in the second game.
“Inside it was really tough for me, but on the outside I wanted to stay positive because our team was doing well,” he said. “I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.”
VanHavermaet has been rewarded for his maturity. His minutes and his role have both increased as this season progressed.
“Vandy” as he’s called by his teammates, cracked the starting lineup for both of last weekend’s North Sun Intercollegiate Conference men’s basketball games.
He’s averaging nearly 20 minutes per game and has developed into one of the team’s top defenders.
“He just stayed the course,” said MSUM head coach Chad Walthall. “There are a lot of lessons to be taught there. I’m happy for him.”
While VanHavermaet wanted more playing time early on, he said the fact he trusted Walthall made it easier. He kept working and waiting for his time to shine.
When that moment came, VanHavermaet didn’t disappoint.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Hawley, Minn., made his first big mark this season vs. Minnesota-Crookston on Dec. 10. He swished the game-winning 3-pointer in a 64-61 home victory that kept MSUM undefeated through seven games.
The Dragons (13-4, 9-4 NSIC) play at Minnesota-Crookston on Saturday, looking to snap a three-game losing streak. More clutch play from VanHavermaet will likely be needed.
“He’s been playing really, really well for the last month and a half,” said Walthall.
In his previous three seasons, VanHavermaet was known for his shooting touch. That’s remained a constant this season.
He’s shooting 43 percent (25 of 58) from 3-point range and averaging 5.5 points per game.
“He’s got a quick release and he’s long so it’s hard to block,” Walthall said. “He doesn’t need much space to let it go. If he just has a little space that’s all he needs.”
His game has an added dimension now. Walthall said VanHavermaet was a “good” defender who has developed into a “great” defender in his final college season. That’s one of the reasons Walthall has moved VanHavermaet into the starting lineup.
VanHavermaet has even surprised himself on the defensive end.
“Maybe in my head I haven’t given myself a chance to be a good defensive player,” he said. “It’s been nice to be able to figure it out. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my defense now.”
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