Game 11 - Chicago State (4-8) at Valparaiso (9-1) - Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007 - 7:05 p.m.
The Matchup: Valparaiso looks to extend its seven-game overall winning streak and 11-game home winning streak tonight as the Crusaders host former Mid-Con foe Chicago State. Valpo has faced the Cougars 32 times on the hardwood, and holds a 29-3 advantage in the all-time series.
Last Meeting: Urule Igbavboa registered a triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, and Valparaiso used its best shooting performance of the 2006-2007 season to defeat Chicago State on Feb. 5, 2007 in Chicago, Ill., 91-76. The Crusaders hit 33 of their 49 attempts from the field for a .673 shooting percentage, over 100 points better than their next-best effort this year. Igbavboa hit seven of his nine field goal attempts on his way to the first triple-double for Valpo in recent history. Valpo also set season highs for points scored and assists (27). Shawn Huff, fresh off of being named the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week, set a new career high with 25 points, hitting nine of his 13 shots from the field, including three 3-pointers.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso closed the first half on a 9-0 run to tie its game with Evansville Tuesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center, and followed with an 8-0 run late in the second half to break open a close game, going on to win by a final tally of 75-67. The win extends the Crusader winning streak to seven games, the longest since the 2002-2003 season. Samuel Haanpää paced the Crusaders with a game-high 20 points, scoring 15 of his 20 in a seven-minute span coming out of the break. Urule Igbavboa added 18 for his seventh straight game in double figures, while Jarryd Loyd chipped in 15 points, five rebounds and four assists off the bench.
On the Air: Today’s game, like every game this season, can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a four-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 17th season on play-by-play, while WVUR’s Adam Amin will handle the color commentary. The game can also be seen online through the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv.
9-1: Nine conference championships. Seven NCAA Tournament appearances. A magical run to the Sweet 16. 302 wins. These are just some of the accomplishments that Crusader head coach Homer Drew and his players have piled up during Drew’s first 18 seasons at the helm of the Valpo men’s basketball program. But none of Drew’s teams have accomplished what this year’s squad has: winning nine of the season’s first ten games. The previous best start under Drew came from the 1998-1999 team, which started 8-1 before dropping its tenth game.
300th Game at the ARC: Today’s game against Chicago State marks the 300th Valpo men’s basketball game in the history of the Athletics-Recreation Center. The venue, which opened Nov. 27, 1984 with a game against Western Michigan, has provided the Crusaders with one of the best home-court advantages in all of college basketball. Valpo is 207-92 (.692) all-time at the ARC, and has finished above .500 at the facility each of the last 15 seasons. Last season, ESPN.com’s Kyle Whelliston named Valparaiso as one of his five best college basketball game atmospheres as part of the website’s Student Spirit Week. Currently, the Crusaders own an 11-game home winning streak dating back to last season, one of the top-ten home-court streaks in the nation.
RPI Soaring: The overall strength of the Horizon League can be seen by looking at the Rating Percentage Index, where the league ranks 10th out of 31 conferences. The Horizon League is in front of leagues such as the Mountain West, Mid-American and Conference USA.. Four Horizon League squads currently rank among the top-100 in RPI (as of Dec. 14), including the Crusaders, who stand at 55.
Efficient Offense: Valparaiso’s offense took full advantage of its opportunities last Saturday at Detroit, connecting on 66.7% (30-of-45) of its field goal attempts, one of the top-10 single game efforts in Division I this year. The Crusaders’ shooting percentage rose even higher inside the arc, as Valpo connected on a staggering 80% (20-of-25) of its two-point attempts.
Bringing Experience With Them: The Crusaders make the step up to the Horizon League with a core group of experienced players. Valpo returns eight of 11 players who took the court last season, including each of its top seven scorers. 93.6% of last year’s scoring, 86.6% of last year’s rebounding and 90.4% of last year’s minutes played are back for the 2007-08 campaign, the highest returning percentage in each category among Horizon League squads.
Cracking the Top 25: Valpo broke into the Mid-Major Top 25 poll for the first time this season on Dec. 3. The Crusaders debuted at #21 and moved up to #12 in the poll of Dec. 10 after winning at Wright State and at Detroit last week. Valpo is the second-highest Horizon squad in the polling, trailing only Butler, which sits third in the poll. It is the first season that the Crusaders have been ranked in the poll since the 2003-04 campaign.
Loyd Continues to Dish: Senior guard Jarryd Loyd cracked Valparaiso’s all-time top-ten in the career assists category inthe Crusaders’ victory over Evansville on Tuesday. Loyd dished out four assists without a turnover, giving him 298 career helpers and moving him past Milo Stovall into tenth place on the all-time list. Loyd also scored 15 points in the win, including nine key first-half points to keep Valpo within striking distance. For the senior, it is the third time this year he has scored at least 15 points in a game after not reaching the mark at any time in his first three seasons. On the year, Loyd ranks third on the team in scoring with 11.0 PPG and is shooting at a 50% clip from the field, as well as behind the 3-point line. He also has dished out a team-high 36 assists and is second on the squad with 11 steals.
Steady in the Post: Junior forward Urule Igbavboa averaged 11.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore, and has remained right around those marks so far this season, putting up 12.2 points and 7.1rebounds per contest through Valpo’s first ten games. His 7.2 RPG rank second among all Horizon League players, while he is also connecting at a 59.5% clip from the floor this year, good for fourth among league players. Igbavboa has reached double figures in scoring in each of Valpo’s last seven contests, the longest string of double-figure games in the career of any current Crusader, and has hit at least half of his shots in all seven games. Last time out against Evansville, Igbavboa hit 6-of-10 shots from the field and knocked down all six of his free throw attempts for a season-high 18 points.
Bouchie a Presence in the Post: Freshman forward Bryan Bouchie put together one of the best games of his young career last Saturday at Detroit. Bouchie showcased his smooth footwork around the basket, getting free for a number of layups and working himself into position for midrange jumpers. The end result? Bouchie finished 8-for-9 from the field for the game, missing only a 3-point attempt, to score 16 points, his second-highest scoring game of the season. He followed with eight critical first-half points against Evansville, and is currently averaging 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game off the bench for the Crusaders.
Haanpää Hits Shot After Shot: Sophomore guard Samuel Haanpää came up huge for the Crusaders Tuesday against Evansville, scoring 15 points early in the second half to help Valpo keep pace with the Purple Aces. Haanpää ended the contest with a game-high 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting, hitting 3-of-4 shot attempts both inside and outside the arc and also knocking down all five of his tries from the charity stripe. Haanpää had only two successful 2-point attempts in the season’s first nine games prior to knocking down three deuces against the Purple Aces.
NOTES ON CHICAGO STATE
Busy Schedule: The game against Valpo marks Chicago State’s 13th contest of the season. The Cougars are 4-8 in the 2007-2008 campaign, but have defeated just two Division I schools (Binghamton and Jackson State).
Holston Hoists It Up: Senior guard David Holston has been lighting up the scoreboard this season for the Cougars. Holston leads the nation in total points scored (288) and is ninth nationally in points per game (24.0). He also leads all Division I players with 65 3-pointers made and is hitting at nearly a 50% clip from behind the arc. In addition, Holston ranks second nationally in both free throw percentage (93.0%) and total steals (33).
Rejections: Senior center Chidozie Chukwumah was averaging over two blocked shots per game through CSU’s first 11 games, but busted out against Jackson State, registering a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.