Game #9 - Valparaiso at Miami - Saturday, December 13, 2008 - 3 p.m. CST
The Matchup: Valparaiso plays its first non-league road game
of the 2008-09 campaign on Saturday afternoon, traveling to Oxford,
Ohio to take on Miami in a return game from last year’s epic ESPNU
BracketBusters matchup. The Crusaders have lost in four of their last
five games, while Miami has won four of its last five.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso never led Wednesday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center, as IPFW used an early 14-3 run to jump out to a double-digit lead on its way to a 63-46 victory over the Crusaders. The teams were tied at six just four minutes in before the Mastodons went on their run. IPFW’s lead remained in double figures into the second half, but a 10-2 run by the Crusaders to start the second stanza cut the edge to 33-28 with 16:40 to play. The Mastodons went on an 18-5 surge over the next eight minutes to take control for good. Howard Little led the Crusaders with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, but was the only Valpo player to reach double figures, as they shot just 31.1% from the floor and 19.0% behind the arc on the game. Jake Diebler added eight points, three assists and two steals while not committing a turnover.
Series History: Valpo and Miami never met until last season at the ARC, when senior Shawn Huff scored 26 of his career-best 32 points after halftime and fellow senior Jarryd Loyd scored the Crusaders’ last seven points in the final two minutes of the second overtime period as the Crusaders earned an epic 99-94 victory in double overtime. The game was broadcast live nationwide on ESPN Classic on part of the O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters event.
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.
Either Hot or Cold: The Valparaiso offense hasn’t had much
in-between so far in the 2008-09 season. Four out of their first eight
games, the Crusaders have hit better than 45% of their shots from the
field, going 3-1 in those contests. But three times, Valpo has shot
worse than 32%, including last time out against IPFW, resulting in its
three double-digit losses.
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 6.0 and 10.1 points per game for Valpo. In addition, eight players have also scored in double figures at least once so far this year for Valpo, 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.
Success Right Around the Corner?: While the Crusaders have dropped five of their last six contests, there is recent precedent for a sustained string of success immediately following a rough stretch. Last season, Valpo lost six of seven games from Jan. 26-Feb. 20 before reeling off six consecutive victories, while the year prior, the Crusaders fell eight straight times (Nov. 21-Dec. 22) and rebounded to win seven of their next nine games.
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.
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 last Thursday at Youngstown State, matching his career best with four triples on his way to 15 points. The Upper Sandusky, Ohio native currently has an assist/turnover ratio of 1.8 on the season and owns the team lead with 13 steals.
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 Crusader 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 third on the team in scoring (8.4 ppg) after putting up a team-high 11 points last time out against IPFW and second in rebounding (5.0 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 9.6 ppg, and has scored at least eight points in seven of Valpo’s eight games. He also has been a force on the boards, currently ranking third on the Crusaders with 4.8 rpg.
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.