Wednesday, January 07, 2009
The Matchup: Valparaiso returns home for a weekend of Horizon
League action beginning with a Thursday night tilt against Detroit.
Urule Igbavboa enters the game just eight points shy of reaching the
1,000-point milestone for his career.
Series History: The Crusaders captured both games from the
Titans last season, making Valpo 5-8 all-time against Detroit. Most
recently, Jarryd Loyd scored all of his game-high 15 points in the
second half, while fellow senior Shawn Huff put Valparaiso ahead for
good with a pair of free throws with 1:01 to play as the Crusaders
pulled out a 59-56 win over Detroit on Feb. 28, 2008 at the ARC.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso was up by as many as 11 points in the
first half and held a five-point halftime lead at Milwaukee Monday
evening, but the Panthers started the second half on a 17-4 run to take
the lead for good en route to a 61-47 win over the Crusaders. Urule
Igbavboa led Valpo with 12 points, but was the only Crusader to reach
double digits in scoring. Brandon McPherson scored eight off the
bench, while Howard Little scored seven points and grabbed a game-high
nine rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Erik Buggs handed
out a game-best four assists. Avery Smith paced Milwaukee with 22
points and also registered five steals.
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. Live audio will also be available online at
www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats and
First-Half Defense Stands Out: Over their last four games,
the Crusaders have stepped up the effort on the defensive end in the
opening half of play. Opponents are shooting just 32.7% in the opening
20 minutes over the last four contests, including just a 24.6% clip
from behind the arc. Valpo has held its foes to an average of just 23
points in the first half over that time span.
No Drama Here: Very rarely this season have Valpo’s games gone
down to the wire. Last year, 21 of the Crusaders’ 36 contests were
decided by single digits, but so far this year, only two of their 15
games have been nine-point spreads or less. Valpo has not played a
single-digit game since its 75-70 overtime loss to La Salle in the
Closing Out a Challenging Stretch: Valparaiso’s game against
#25/RV Butler last Saturday closed out one of the toughest stretches of
games in Crusader basketball history. The Crusaders played five games
in four different locales in a 14-day span, including games against
three ranked opponents in #1/1 North Carolina, #10/15 Purdue and the
aforementioned Bulldogs. Only the 2006-07 squad, which took on #8/9
Marquette, #19/18 Butler and #3/1 Ohio State in a six-day span, faced
three ranked opponents closer together.
Spreading Out the Scoring: The Crusaders have had a variety of
different players contribute in the scoring column this season. Six
different players are averaging between 6.1 and 11.4 points per game
for Valpo at the midway point of the year. In addition, nine 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.
National Audience Awaits Valpo: After appearing on national
television seven times during the 2007-08 campaign, Valparaiso will
make at least three nationally televised appearances during the 2008-09
season. On Dec. 20, Valpo was featured on ESPNU in a showdown with
top-ranked North Carolina. The Crusaders’ contest at Purdue Dec. 28
was broadcast on the Big Ten Network, while their Jan. 30 league tilt
at Butler will be carried on ESPNU.
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.
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.
Igbavboa Nears A Milestone: Preseason Second Team All-Horizon
League selection Urule Igbavboa, the Crusaders’ leading scorer (11.4
ppg) and rebounder (5.3 rpg), is just eight points shy of reaching
1,000 career points. Igbavboa will become the 28th player in Valpo
basketball history to hit the milestone, and the seventh this decade,
joining Dan Oppland, Lubos Barton, Raitis Grafs, Milo Stovall, Kikas
Gomes and Shawn Huff.
Little Shooting and Rebounding: Sophomore guard Howard Little
has become one of the Crusaders’ most consistent shooters and
rebounders in his second season with the team. After connecting on
just 20.6% of his 3-point attempts as a freshman, Little is hitting at
a team-best 39.5% clip from behind the arc this year. On the glass, he
has paced the Crusaders five times and is currently second on the team
with 5.2 rebounds per game.
Next Year’s Newcomers: Valparaiso has signed a quintet of
players who will join the program for the 2009-2010 season, four of
whom are freshmen and one junior college transfer. The five newcomers
- Ryan Broekhoff, a 6’6” guard from Frankston, Victoria,
Australia. Broekhoff was named Australian Junior National Male Player
of the Year earlier this year and was the MVP of the U20 Australian
- Chris Halvorsen, a 6’8” forward out of Henry Sibley [Minn.] H.S.
Halvorsen helped lead the Warriors to a state championship appearance
last year and was selected to the All-Tournament Team. He also has
twice earned All-Conference honors.
- Matt Kenney, a 6’3” guard out of Mooresville [Ind.] H.S. Kenney
was an honorable mention All-State honoree last year, while also
earning All-Indianapolis Metro West First Team accolades and
- Tommy Kurth, a 6’1” guard out of Penn [Ind.] H.S. Kurth was also
an honorable mention All-State honoree last year and has been ranked as
the #54 point guard in the Class of 2009 by ESPN.com. He has been
among the top-25 scorers in the area the last two years.
- Brandon Wood, a 6’3” guard from Kokomo, Ind. Wood is playing
this year at Highland [Ill.] C.C. after playing just six games last
year at Southern Illinois. A former Indiana All-Star, he is projected
as the top incoming point guard in the Horizon League next year by