Game #12: January 5, 1:35 p.m. CST
Butler (10-1, 0-0 Horizon)
at Valpo (5-6, 0-0 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: The inaugural Horizon League loop begins on Saturday afternoon for the Valparaiso Crusaders as the Brown and Gold entertains Butler at the ARC. After a two-week layoff for the holidays, Valpo looks to carry its momentum into 2008, as the Crusaders won five of their last six contests to wrap up the 2007 calendar year. Butler enters the game at 10-1, the best non-conference mark in the Horizon League.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Butler can be viewed live online as part of the Horizon League Network at www.horizonleaguenetwork.tv. WVUR’s (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) Eric Brooks and Josh Weinhold will call all the action live from the ARC.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Butler are meeting for the 18th time in a series that dates back to February 11, 1980. The Bulldogs hold a 14-3 advantage all-time, including a 7-1 edge in Valparaiso. Valpo has won the last two contests against its instate rival though, including a 61-51 overtime victory as part of the State Farm Hoosier Classic in Terre Haute, Ind. on December 4, 2004.
Wrapping Up Saint Xavier: Agnieszka Kulaga tied her career high with 26 points while Aimee Litka added a new personal-best 19 points as Valparaiso defeated the Cougars 76-57 on December 22 at the ARC to wrap up the non-conference portion of the 2007-2008 campaign. The Crusaders held a seven-point advantage at halftime only to see Saint Xavier rally and take a 44-43 lead with 14:44 to play. Valpo answered on the next possession and never relinquished the lead from there on out. Launa Hochstetler just missed a triple-double with 12 points and career highs of nine rebounds and eight assists.
Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs are off to their best start since going 14-1 to begin the 1981-1982 season following a 66-49 victory over Ball State on December 29. Butler has won eight straight games, the 13th longest winning streak in the country. Lade Akande, a three-time Horizon League Player of the Week this season, leads the Bulldogs averaging 16.1 points per game, ranking third in the Horizon League. Susan Lester is in the top-four in the league in both scoring and rebounding, ranking fourth scoring 15.1 points per night while grabbing 7.1 boards, third best in the league.
A New Beginning: For the first time since 1992-1993 when Valpo moved from the North Star Conference to the Mid-Continent Conference, the Crusaders will face a new set of league foes. The Crusaders won their inaugural game in the Mid-Con, 70-68, on January 6, 1993, ironically enough at current Horizon League foe Wright State. Valpo posted a 10-5 record in Mid-Con openers and a 3-2 mark in North Star Conference openers. The Crusaders have won four straight conference openers overall.
Valpo Posts 20 Wins in 2007: With the victory against Saint Xavier to wrap up the calendar year, it marked the 20th win of 2007 for the Brown and Gold. Valpo finishes 2007 with a 20-10 record from January through December.
Home Court Win Streak Among Nation’s Best: Valparaiso’s 10 game winning streak at the Athletics-Recreation Center is the 10th longest streak in Division I. Valpo is 4-0 this season and won its final six home contests last year. The last Crusader loss at the ARC came on January 15, 2007, a 63-57 setback against Oakland. Texas A&M currently holds the nation’s longest home court winning streak, having won 26 consecutive games in College Station, Texas.
Tough Non-Conference Schedule Comes to a Close: Valpo’s schedule ranked 83rd toughest in the country this season among all 339 Division I programs through the Crusaders’ non-conference play according to collegerpi.com. Valpo’s RPI sits at 147 heading into Horizon League play.
Making Free Throws in Crunch Time: With the game on the line in the closing minutes, Valparaiso has been solid from the free throw stripe this season. Valpo is shooting 88.6% (31-of-35) as a team from the charity stripe in the game’s final two minutes. Agnieszka Kulaga has been virtually automatic in pressure situations, connecting on 17-of-18 tosses (94.4%) with the clock winding down.
Launa Hochstetler Has Career Night: Launa Hochstetler posted career bests of nine rebounds and eight assists against Saint Xavier in Valpo’s win. The junior guard also had 12 points and committed just two turnovers against the Cougars’ full court pressure. Hochstetler also made 4-of-5 free throws, posting a season-high for makes.
Getting to the Glass: For the first time this season against Saint Xavier, Valparaiso outrebounded its opponent. The Crusaders hauled in 50 boards to the Cougars 31. Whitney Farris grabbed 10 boards while Launa Hochstetler recorded nine and Aimee Litka grabbed eight more. All three players registered career highs on the afternoon.
Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had constant success at the ARC over the past seven years. With wins in the first four home games of 2007-2008, the Crusaders have pushed their home court winning streak to 10 consecutive games. Valpo has not dropped a home game since January 15, 2007 against Oakland. Since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 66-16 (.805) record at the ARC.
Kulaga Earns Player of the Week Honors after Career Game: Agnieszka Kulaga was named Valpo’s first-ever Horizon League Player of the Week on December 10 after turning in a career effort against North Texas. The junior guard scored a career-best 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor while grabbing a career-high eight rebounds. She also tied her career mark with five assists in the win.
Hochstetler Named Scholar-Athlete of the Week: Leah Hochstetler was the U.S. Army Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week on December 18 after lifting the Crusaders to victory against South Dakota State. The junior guard scored all five of her points in the final minute, including the game-winning three-pointer. In the classroom, Hochstetler has a 3.87 grade point average as a nursing major.
Crusaders in the Hoosier Classic: With the win against Ball State, Valparaiso has now posted a 6-2 record all-time in the Hoosier Classic, tying Indiana State for the best mark among the four schools that have competed in the annual event over the past eight years. With Valpo and Butler now members of the Horizon League together, the 2007 edition was the final chapter in this Indiana event.
A Three-rific Performance against Purdue: The Crusaders made their first five triples at Purdue on the way to making 11-of-17 (64.7%) three-pointers on the night. It was the fourth best shooting percentage for the team in a single game in school history (minimum 10 attempts).
Valpo Picked Fifth in Horizon League Race: Valparaiso has been tabbed to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League in its inaugural season according to the preseason poll conducted of the league’s head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets. Milwaukee was picked to win the league followed by nine-time defending regular season champion Green Bay.
Valpo Adds Two for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed two players to National Letters of Intent. Lauren Kenney is a 6’0" forward from Moorsville, Ind. who is currently playing at Lincoln Trail College. Sylwia Zabielewicz is a 6’6" center from Warsaw, Poland who is currently playing at Midland College. Both players will have two years of eligibility remaining.