IPFW at Valparaiso - Wednesday, December 10, 2008 - 8 p.m.
The Matchup: Valparaiso returns to the ARC for the first time
in nearly a month Wednesday as the Crusaders host in-state foe IPFW.
The Crusaders snapped a four-game losing streak last time out, while
the 3-5 Mastodons enter Wednesday on a three-game losing streak.
Last Time Out: After trailing by 14 points 16 minutes into the game, Valparaiso ended the first half on a 15-4 run and took the lead for good with 13 minutes to play, eventually pulling away for a 68-57 road victory over Youngstown State in Youngstown, Ohio Thursday evening. Urule Igbavboa set a new career high with 27 points in the victory. The senior hit nine of his 15 attempts from the field and went 9-of-11 from the foul line for his career-high 27 points. The senior also ripped down a team-best nine rebounds. Fellow senior Jake Diebler was one point off his career high, hitting 4-of-7 shots from behind the arc on his way to 15 points. Sophomore Michael Rogers added eight points and seven rebounds.
Series History: Valpo and IPFW have met on the hardwood seven times in the all-time series, all in the last five seasons. The Crusaders earned the victory in all seven prior meetings, and never trailed Nov. 15, 2007 in the last meeting in Fort Wayne, Ind., taking a nine-point halftime lead over IPFW and going on to defeat the Mastodons, 74-64. Jake Diebler and Jarryd Loyd tied for team-high scoring honors with ten points apiece. The Crusaders’ balanced attack, which featured no player making more than three shots from the field, received nine points each from Samuel Haanpää and Calum MacLeod, eight points apiece from Bryan Bouchie, Shawn Huff and Howard Little, and seven points from Urule Igbavboa.
Following the Crusaders: Today’s game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a four-station entity carrying Crusader athletics all over Northwest Indiana. Originiating from WVUR, 95.1 FM in Valparaiso, the VSRN also includes WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; and WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell. Veteran broadcaster Todd Ickow returns for his 18th season on play-by-play for the Crusaders, while WVUR’s David Schroeder will handle the color commentary. The audio is also available online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats and video.
Back at the ARC: Valparaiso returns to its home court for the first time since a Nov. 18 victory over UCF. The win over the Knights marked the Crusaders’ seventh straight home victory and improved their record at the ARC since the start of the 1993-94 season to 164-31, a winning percentage of .841.
Spreading Out the Scoring: The Crusaders have had a variety of different players contribute in the scoring column during the early stages of the season. Seven different players are averaging between 6.6 and 10.9 points per game for Valpo. In addition, eight players have also scored in double figures at least once in Valpo’s first six games, including four players (Buggs, Fumey, Haskins, Witt) who are in their first season on the court and two more (Little, Rogers) who are in just their second season.
Seniors Stepping Up: Through the first six games of the season, Valpo’s underclassmen had played 74.4% of the team’s minutes and scored 79.4% of the Crusaders’ points. But last time out against Youngstown State, Crusader seniors Jake Diebler and Urule Igbavboa stood out for Valpo. Diebler played 36 minutes and scored a season-best 15 points, while Igbavboa played 35 minutes and scored a career-high 27 points as the two seniors combined for 61.8% of Valpo’s production in the win over the Penguins.
Postseason Trips: Valparaiso’s trip to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational last season was its first postseason berth since the 2003-2004 campaign and extended an impressive streak. 16 consecutive classes of Crusader basketball players have experienced at least one postseason tournament.
Drew Closing In on 600: In his 32nd season as a collegiate head coach and his 20th year at Valpo, Crusader head coach Homer Drew is just four wins shy of his 600th career win. Drew would become just the seventh active coach in Division I with at least 600 wins and just the 33rd coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the milestone.
Tabbed Seventh: The Crusader men’s basketball team has been picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League for the 2008-09 season, according to polling of the league’s head coaches, sports information directors and media members. Cleveland State has been tabbed the preseason favorite with 40 of the possible 49 first-place votes. Wright State was picked second with UIC third and Green Bay fourth. 2007-08 league champion Butler was selected fifth, while Milwaukee was picked just ahead of the Crusaders in sixth. Loyola, Detroit and Youngstown State rounded out the polling.
Which Line Are We Using?: The men’s college 3-point line has been moved back a foot this year, from the previous distance of 19’9” to the current distance of 20’9”. Many courts, such as the ARC, now have multiple 3-point lines on the hardwood, as the women’s 3-point distance remained the same, but the relevant line on the ARC court for the men’s games is the more distant, light brown line.
Big Man With a Career High: Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League selection Urule Igbavboa was placed on the preseason All-Horizon League Second Team after his stellar junior campaign. The senior forward showed his proficiency at both ends of the floor last time out at Youngstown State, helping the Crusaders rally from a 14-point deficit with a career-high 27 point effort, also grabbing nine rebounds. Igbavboa hit nine of his 15 attempts from the floor and drained 9-of-11 free throws on the game. This year, the senior leads Valparaiso in both scoring (10.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg).
The Un-Masked Man: Playing without his trademark mask this season, senior guard Jake Diebler has continued to play his trademark style of basketball in his final year. Diebler nearly put up a new career high Thursday at Youngstown State, matching his career best with four triples on his way to 15 points. The Upper Sandusky, Ohio native also recorded a team-best three steals, increasing his season total to 11 thefts, tied for the team lead.
Little Registers New Career Best: Sophomore guard Howard Little became the fifth different player to lead Valpo in scoring in its first six games and the seventh different Crusaders to reach double figures at Cleveland State last Tuesday. Little knocked down a career-high six field goals en route to a new career-best 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. The sophomore is currently fourth on the team in scoring (8.0 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.4 rpg).
Rogers Produces Night After Night: Sophomore guard Michael Rogers has stepped into a regular starting role this year after starting each of the last nine games of the season as a freshman. The 6’5” Jamaican is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 9.9 ppg, and has scored at least eight points in six of Valpo’s seven games. He also has been a force on the boards, currently ranking third on the Crusaders with 5.1 rpg. In Thursday’s win over YSU, Rogers scored eight points despite attempting just four shots from the field and grabbed seven rebounds in a season-high 33 minutes of action.
B-Mac Recovering: Valpo senior guard Brandon McPherson is the only Crusader not to see playing time yet this season as he continues to recuperate from offseason surgery. McPherson averaged double figures in scoring for the second straight year last season, putting up 10.1 points per game, and currently ranks ninth in Valpo history in 3-point percentage and 17th in assists.