Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
An elite collection of high school-age players from the Netherlands provided an international flavor for Renaissance High’s boys basketball team Wednesday in its final summer league game of the season.
Using a running clock and playing two 20-minute halves, Renaissance built a comfortable lead and cruised to a 46-37 victory at the famed St. Cecilia gym in northwest Detroit.
“I really didn’t know what to expect coming into it, but I thought it was phenomenal and a great experience for our players,” Phoenix coach Venias Jordan, Jr., said.
The matchup against one of the PSL’s top teams was the fifth game played by Coach Sid Bruinsma’s visitors – they’re 2-3 — during its week-long visit to Michigan, with another game scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Cecilia against University of Detroit Jesuit, the defending Catholic League champion.
Bruinsma came away impressed with Renaissance’s ability.
“They’ve got some guards that know what they’re doing,’’ he said. “They’ve got some big guys that don’t look like they move that well, but they are surprisingly effective. Then they’ve got some shooters on the wings. So it’s a difficult team to play against. With a running clock, the game was gone before we knew it. Hopefully, the game (tonight) will go a little better.”
Bruinsma is a former basketball player at Grand Valley State University, also the alma mater of Alvin Ward, DPS executive director of athletics. After Bruinsma reached out, Ward contacted St. Cecilia’s Sam Washington Jr. and made the arrangements for the Netherlands to play two of the area’s top prep units.
“It was a good way to keep my guys with their feet on the floor,’’ Bruinsma said. “When you come over here (to the States), you’ve got to take care of the ball. Our guys are young.” Added Fritz John, a 16-year-old guard-forward for the Netherlands, “This gives us a chance to see how good we actually are.”
Renaissance, with a strong nucleus returning, expects to be one of the PSL’s top contenders in the 2014-15 season after laying the groundwork this summer by attending camps at Youngstown State, Eastern Michigan, Xavier, Toledo, Oakland, Michigan, Michigan State and Detroit universities and playing a strong schedule.
“Our summer was grueling,” Jordan said. “We went to eight team camps and had half the guys playing AAU. It was tough with injuries and people just tired. We played an NBA(-like) schedule with 40 games in the month of June. That’s more than a game a day.”
That made Jordan a bit leery about playing yet another game when the Netherlands contest was proposed. But now he’s sold on the idea.
“I think it’s something we should do every single year, especially since coach Bruinsma’s nephew, Evan, played four years at the University of Detroit. I think it would be great to develop a relationship between those guys and our guys. Hopefully we can get our coaches to go over there to do clinics.”