VALPARAISO (12-11) at CHICAGO STATE (8-18)
JACOBY D. DICKENS CENTER - CHICAGO, ILL.
FEBRUARY 5, 2007 - 7 p.m.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Winners of six of their last seven games, the Crusaders step out of conference play today to take on former Mid-Con foe Chicago State. The Cougars, competing this year as an independent, have lost three in a row after winning three out of four. Valpo already owns a victory this year over CSU, having defeated the Cougars 67-64 at the ARC on Dec. 30, 2006, improving the all-time series record to 28-3. Chicago State did defeat the Crusaders at the Dickens Center last year, however, by a score of 90-76.
LAST TIME OUT: Valparaiso allowed Centenary no field goals over the final 11:08 of the first half and closed the opening stanza on a 23-4 run on its way to an easy 68-50 victory Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The win marked the Crusaders' 200th victory all-time at the ARC. Urule Igbavboa dropped 11 points for the Crusaders during the 23-4 run, including three monster dunks. Six other Crusaders scored during the half-closing spurt, while the Valpo defense held Centenary to 0-for-11 shooting from the field over the span, helping to give the Crusaders a 43-16 halftime edge. Valpo extended the lead to as much as 35 in the second half before the Gents went on a late run to get as close as 16. Samuel Haanpaa led four Valpo players in double figures with 20 points.
LAST MEETING: Brandon McPherson's 3-pointer with 7:28 to play put Valparaiso ahead for good, and the Crusaders held on to make their return to the Athletics-Recreation Center a victorious one, defeating Chicago State Saturday night, 67-64. The lead was extended to as many as nine points with 2:37 to play before the Cougars started to come back. Royce Parran came up with a rare 4-point play for the visitors, and after a turnover on the inbounds play, John Cantrell hit two out of three free throws to cut the deficit to three. Parran hit a runner in the lane with 53 seconds to play to make it a 65-64 game. But Parran was stripped on Chicago State's next possession by McPherson, who hit two free throws for the final margin.
ON THE AIR: Today's game, like every game this season, can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a three-station entity carrying Crusader athletics all over Northwest Indiana, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Originating from WVUR, 95.1 FM in Valparaiso, the Valpo Sports Radio Network also includes WEFM, 95.9 FM in Michigan City and WAKE, 1500 AM in Valparaiso. Veteran broadcaster Todd Ickow returns for his 16th season on play-by-play, while WVUR's Mike Haase will handle the color commentary.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Saturday's game marked the third time in the last four games Valpo has held an opponent without a field goal for at least an 11-minute stretch, all victories. The Gents went a total of 11:53 spanning the two halves without a field goal. UMKC did not hit a shot from the field until 11:48 into the game on Thursday, Jan. 25, and Valpo held Oral Roberts without a field goal for the final 11:05 of the matchup this past Thursday night. The Gents' .273 field goal percentage marked the lowest by a Crusader opponent in over four seasons, dating back to Dec. 23, 2002, when Central Michigan shot the ball at just a .250 clip against Valpo.
ARC-AHOLICS: Saturday night's victory over Centenary marked the Crusaders' 200th all-time win at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The first game in the ARC was held on Nov. 27, 1984 against Western Michigan, with the first victory coming four days later against Illinois Tech. Valpo has suffered just 92 losses in its home gym over its 23 seasons, for a .685 home winning percentage over the life of the ARC. The Crusaders have not finished under .500 on their homecourt since the 1991-92 season, and own a tremendous 146-27 (.844) record at the ARC since the start of the 1993-94 campaign.
BALANCED ATTACK: This season's incarnation of the Crusaders have taken the term ?balanced offense' to the extreme, as four Valpo players are within a point of each other. Freshman Samuel Haanpaa leads the pack with 11.3 points per game, while sophomore Brandon McPherson is right on his tail at 11.2 ppg. Sophomore Urule Igbavboa sits right behind both players with 11.1 ppg, while junior Shawn Huff is only Valpo's fourth-leading scorer despite averaging 10.5 ppg. The Crusaders are the only team in the Mid-Con who can boast four players averaging double figures, with all four players ranking 19th or better in the league in scoring.
CRUSADERS AND BRONCOS FACING OFF: Valpo's final non-conference opponent was determined earlier this week, as the Crusaders will travel to Western Michigan to take on the Broncos on Saturday, February 17 in a matchup derived from the O'Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters pool. WMU owns an 8-11 record on the season, including a 4-3 mark in Mid-American Conference play. The matchup renews one of Valpo's oldest rivalries, as the two squads first faced off in 1920 and have met a total of 62 times, with the Broncos holding a 36-26 edge in the series.
PRESEASON POLL PLACES VALPO FOURTH: The Crusaders received 156 points in the Mid-Continent Conference's preseason polling of coaches, sports information directors, and selected media members, placing them fourth out of the league's eight teams. Projected league champs Oral Roberts registered 260 points. IUPUI and UMKC are projected second and third, respectively, while Oakland, Western Illinois, Southern Utah, and Centenary round out the fifth through eighth spots.
CRUSADER ALUMNI RETURN TO THE BENCH: Valpo head coach Dr. Homer Drew has always found places for former players as assistant coaches, and this year is no exception. Bryce Drew is back for his second year on the bench, having been promoted to the title of associate head coach during the offseason. Jason Hawkins, who served as the director of basketball operations during the 2003-04 campaign, returns for his first year as an assistant coach, while Tarrance Price, who played for Valpo from 1998-2000, returns as the director of basketball operations.
A LOT OF HANDS TO SHAKE: Pregame captains meetings at center court will be crowded on Valpo's side this year, as five Crusaders have been designated as captains by Coach Drew. Senior Moussa Mbaye, juniors Shawn Huff and Jarryd Loyd, and sophomores Jake Diebler and Brandon McPherson will share this year's captaincy.
THE POST PRESENCE: Sophomore forward Urule Igbavboa put together one of the best offensive games of his career Thursday night in Valpo's overtime win against Oral Roberts. Igbavboa matched his career high with eight field goals made, needing just 11 attempts to do so, for his 17 points on the night. Igbavboa followed with another solid performance Saturday against Centenary, hitting seven of nine shots from the field for 15 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. Igbavboa has scored in double figures in eight of Valpo's last 10 games, and is third on the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg. He also leads the Crusaders in rebounding and ranks second in the Mid-Con with 7.1 rpg. Igbavboa has stepped up his game in conference play, averaging 13.7 ppg and 6.8 rpg while hitting at a 62.8% clip from the field, all three marks best among the Crusaders and in the top-10 in the Mid-Con.
HUFF HITS SHOTS: Junior guard/forward Shawn Huff proved that he was the man to take the big shots Thursday night against Oral Roberts. Huff hit just two of his first seven attempts from behind the arc against the Golden Eagles, but hit three monster triples to close out the game. The first brought Valpo to within two points with 18 seconds to play, while the second tied the game with five seconds remaining, forcing overtime. The third came halfway through the extra session, giving the Crusaders the lead for good. Huff finished the night with 21 points and five rebounds, including a career-best five triples. Huff's 21 points was the second-highest output of his career, behind only the 22 he put up against Marquette earlier this year.
LOYD LAYS IT IN: Coming off the bench Thursday night, junior guard Jarryd Loyd provided a fast-paced spark on both ends of the court for the Crusaders. Loyd scored 10 points in 26 minutes for Valpo, with three of his four baskets coming off of fast breaks that he was responsible for: one on a defensive rebound and two on steals. His last basket was by far his biggest, as he picked Adam Liberty's pocket with under a minute to play and successfully converted a give-and-go with Jake Diebler to cut ORU's lead to four. Loyd followed with 10 more points against Centenary for his sixth double-digit output of the season.
HAANPAA FROM DEEP: Freshman Samuel Haanpaa seems to have a liking for the number five. Six times this season, Haanpaa has drained five 3-pointers, most recently Saturday against Centenary, but has not hit six triples in a game yet. With his 20-point effort against the Gents, Haanpaa becomes Valpo's leading scorer this seaon at 11.3 ppg. If he finishes the season as Valpo's leading scorer, Haanpaa would become the first Crusader freshman since Lubos Barton to pace Valpo in scoring.
SEASON TO DATE: Chicago State, playing this season as an independent after 12 season as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, owns an 8-18 record on the year, but has dropped its last three outings. The Cougars have acquitted themselves fairly well against Mid-Con opponents this year, with a 2-4 record (wins over Oakland and Western Illinois). Today's game marks just the fifth home game of the season for CSU, who owns victories over Wright State and Indiana-South Bend at the Dickens Center.
LITTLE GUYS PLAYING BIG TIME: Guards David Holston (5'8") and Royce Parran (5'9") are two of the shortest players in NCAA Division I basketball, but are also two of the most explosive. The duo combines for 30 points per contest to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists. Holston leads the Cougars with 16.5 points per game, connecting on a 40.1% clip from behind the arc, while Parran averages 13.5 ppg and 4.3 apg.