Valley Christian has dominated 2A basketball over the last 2 years. The 2003-2004 season and its success rest's solely on 6'2" Senior point guard Brian Botma. The returning floor general has watched Tim Kruge and co. get all the accolades, now it's his turn.
A quiet, confident Brian Botma sat down with me and we discussed the upcoming season, Coach Haagsma, the pressure, and 2A hoops.
T: After winning back to back 2A State Championships and the loss of all-everything 6'7" center Tim Kruge, the pressure on repeating falls on the team leader, are you ready to take on that kind of pressure?
Botma: Yes, I think with all the underclassmen and my other 2 senior leaders, I believe I can help lead my team as the point guard and with Boomer and Mehlhorn stepping up also. It is a lot of pressure but that is what being a senior is about, taking pressure and being able to handle it.
T: How will the make-up of the team change without a dominate inside player?
Botma: Our game will be a fast paced one, and more of an outside game, around the perimeter with flashes and quick post ups inside. We do also still have Mehlhorn who has been working hard on his post moves and will be a strong inside presence in 2a.
T: Talk about some of the key newcomers for Valley Christian?
Botma: We are starting to bring in a great sophomore class and we acquired 2 good JR's also. 3 Sophomores, Ben Bergsma, who has stepped up his game in the summer and has surprised many of us and surprised me with how well he played and showed he could hang. Brett Urig, who was the leader of the JV team last year and was pulled up for the region and state tournament last year should be a good addition to play back up point guard and play off guard with his good shot. Then the last sophomore, Nathan Papadeas. He is going to be a good inside presence for us with his body, still growing and putting on muscle. He is a great inside post defender and is working on his game with the ball around the hoop. Then our 2 Jr.'s John Holman and David Randleman who just moved from Washington. John has stepped up big this summer on defense and is playing very well with a shot that has come around really well also. Our first game this summer against SCA, John played awesome D on Tim Maiden and scored 15 points and didn't look back from there. Then the newly accepted David has a consistent shot and is just another 3-point shooter we added to an already great shooting team.
T: Coach Greg Haagsma has been low key over the last couple years, and many readers don't know about his successes or coaching style, give us some "inside scoop" that best describes his coaching personality.
Botma: Haags is a great coach and is always thinking of a way to help his team win. First he has great relationships with his players so everyone on the team gets along with him. I haven't heard of a player who didn't like him. He is also a very fundamental coach. When we do shooting drills he works on our footwork and release point and is always looking for a way to improve our shooting. He also knows how to work with what he has players wise. Last year we ran a 4 out 1 in or triangle to get Tim the ball and this year it is more a 5 out and passing and cutting with lots of off ball screens to get the shooters open. Plus he puts in SO much time for the team. I don't think there is coach in the whole state that but in as much time as out coaching staff does.
T: Give us your 2A Pre-season Top 5.
Botma: Well, I would have to give the first spot to SCA, DC and/or, us, VC, because on paper SCA has the better squad but SCA beat DC, then DC beat VC, but VC beat SCA 2 times. So there is the top three, then I don't really know but Thatcher always does well with what they have, and I have heard Babo is tough but I haven't seen them play.
1: Botma 2: Boomer 3 & 4: Brett, Randleman, Ben, or Nathan you know I have no idea about these position and I will leave these ones up to coach but they are all great players. 5: Mehlhorn
T: Being a key player in 2003, what will you have to do to elevate your game in 2004?
Botma: Last year I was the back-up point guard and I wasn't as much of a leader. This year I am the starting point guard and I'm going to need to be more of a floor general than I was last year. Paul did a great job of controlling the team and knowing where the ball need to be and when. I need to do just as good or better job of that than him because we won't be working with as much talent as we did last year. Secondly I need to make sure my jump shot is more consistent or be able to get to the basket easy. I need to be able to put some points on the board when they are needed or dribble penetrate and pass to an open player to get someone else and open shot. Size up the defender and pick his weakness and expose it.
T: Small ball in general does not get the respect that maybe it should, tell us your thoughts on this subject.
Botma: That's just how it has been and how I think it will always be. There is a slight difference in quickness level when we play some other 2a teams and when we play in the Greenway tournament. It is just a biased opinion that people think all of the smaller schools don't have talent but they are just mistaken.
T: What are your goals beyond VC athletically?
Botma: I wish to go play Basketball in college. I have a preference to go to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego but will go where God leads me. I just want to play.
T: Give us your breakdown on VC's starting five for 2003-2004.
I think we all know enough about the 3 seniors and how we work. All three of us have been working hard this summer and are playing great together and I will have a great senior year with them and the rest of the team.
T: Why has VC experienced so much success?
Botma: Coaching, I think our coaches might be the most committed coaches in the state 1a-5a. If there is a game that needs to be analyzed, Haags will stay up and watch the film. If there is a game that needs to be watched that is out at SCA of NWCC, one of our assistants or Haags will drive out and go watch it. Our coaching is the first part I think. Also, our school has also been blessed with great talent. Back with Marshall Tague, Ben Oglive, then with Lucas Falconer, Kyle Brown, and the class that graduated last year, we have had some great players come through Valley in the past 5 years. Then I know in our last 2 back to back seasons our team has been united. We all have gotten along and won our games and lost our games as a team.
Valley Christian will be in the hunt for a "3-peat" come March, and with the leadership of Brian Botma, could end up with another State Crown.
Congratulations to Senior Brian Botma, and good luck to Valley Christian in 2004.