Game #14: Jan. 9, 2010, 1 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (4-9, 1-1 Horizon)
at Butler (8-5, 1-1 Horizon)
Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) - Indianapolis, Ind.
Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso takes to the road on Saturday afternoon to begin a three-game trip beginning in Indianapolis, Ind. against instate rival Butler. The Crusaders are looking for their first road victory of the season after registering their first Horizon League victory of the year on Monday night.
On the Air: Saturday’s game against Butler will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at valpoathletics.com. Nick Garling and Chris Kleinhans Shultz will call all the action live from historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. The game can also be viewed live online through the Horizon League Network. Live stats will be available through www.valpoathletics.com as well.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Butler are meeting for the 22nd time dating back to 1980. The Bulldogs won 14 of the first 15 meetings between the two schools before Valpo won three straight. The two schools split a pair of contests last year, with Butler winning 77-44 in Indianapolis on January 23 before the Crusaders posted a 75-65 win at the ARC on February 21. Butler is 8-1 all-time against Valpo at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 16th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 264-190 record at the helm of the Brown and Gold. In his 22nd season overall, Freeman has a 393-237 career mark. He is Valpo’s all-time winningest coach and has amassed more than half of the victories in the program’s history.
Wrapping Up Loyola (Chicago): The Crusaders held the Ramblers to just 12 first half points and 25.8% shooting from the floor for the game on the way to a 48-39 victory on Monday night at the ARC. Betsy Adams scored a game-high 16 points for Valpo while Kelly Watts grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds as the Crusaders won the battle on the boards 54-38.
Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs had won six of seven prior to suffering a 75-70 setback at home against UIC on Monday evening and are wrapping up a four-game homestand against the Crusaders. Melanie Thornton leads the Butler attack, averaging 15.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Brittany Bowen adds 14.2 points per game and is shooting 52.4% from the floor while Susan Lester chips in 10.5 points per night. Butler is scoring nearly 70 points per game as a team.
Keeping Them Off the Scoreboard: Valpo allowed just 39 points against Loyola (Chicago) on Monday evening, matching the sixth fewest points ever allowed by a Crusader team in the 39th year of the program’s existence. The 39 points were the fewest allowed since the team set the school record of 31 on December 30, 2005 against UMKC.
A Low Scoring First Half: Not only did the Crusaders allow just 39 points for the game against Loyola (Chicago) on Monday, but the Brown and Gold surrendered just 12 first half points, the fewest since allowing 11 against UMKC on December 30, 2005. Valpo had trouble scoring as well though, and took just a 19-12 lead into the locker room.
Watts Has Big Rebounding Nights: Kelly Watts grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds against the Ramblers on Monday, her second straight double figure rebounding game. The junior transfer pulled down 10 boards against UIC last Saturday, including five on the offensive end of the floor.
Not Allowing Freebies: Valpo did not give away any free points on Monday evening, as Loyola attempted just two free throws in the entire contest, but failed to convert on either attempt.
Adams Returns to the Scoring Column: Betsy Adams has found her stroke shooting the ball again, tallying double figures in three of the last four games, including back-to-back 16 points efforts. The sophomore guard tallied eight against Wake Forest, the only game to interrupt the string. Adams started the year with seven straight double figure efforts before being held to five points total against Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
Playing Defense: The Crusaders have allowed 62 points or less in each of the last five games, including contests against Cincinnati, Auburn, Wake Forest, UIC, and Loyola (Chicago). The last time Valpo allowed 62 points or fewer in five straight games was February 12-March 3 of 2007 when the Brown and Gold held six straight opponents to 54 points or less.
Taking Care of the Basketball: Even with a schedule that saw Valpo play five BCS conference schools in a row, the Crusaders have managed a positive turnover margin at +0.5.
Struggling to Find Offense: Valpo has had trouble scoring points over the last seven games, averaging just 47.4 points per contest since December 8. The Crusaders have not scored more than 52 points in a game during the span.
Block Party: Ashley Varner registered three blocked shots against Auburn, matching a career high. Her 12 blocks this year have already surpassed her entire total from 2008-2009 and are just two shy of her career total entering this year. As a team, Valpo has already blocked 31 shots in just 13 games, more than two-thirds of the team’s total from all of 2008-2009. Last year the Crusaders finished with just 45 blocks in 30 contests.
Freshman Among Assist/Turnover Leaders: Valpo’s freshmen point guard Skyler Gick ranks third in the Horizon League in assist-to-turnover ratio. Gick has dished out 36 assists while turning the ball over just 20 times for a 1.8 assist-to-turnover mark.
A Perfect Effort: Betsy Adams went a perfect 10-for-10 against Colorado State from the free throw line. Her performance against the Rams marked the fourth most makes without a miss ever at Valpo. Ironically, Adams went just 6-of-10 for the season at the line last year as a freshman.
Horizon League Player of the Weeks: Lauren Kenney was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week on November 23 after leading Valpo to wins over SIU Edwardsville and Colorado State. The senior forward averaged 20.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game while registering double-doubles in both contests for the Crusaders. Ashley Varner then earned the honor on December 28 after scoring a career-high 23 points against Cincinnati. The junior made five three-pointers, three more than she had made in any previous game during her three years at Valpo, and also grabbed seven rebounds, a team high.
Kenney Earns Preseason Honors: Lauren Kenney was named to the Horizon League’s Preseason Second Team in the voting by the league’s head coaches, media, and sports information directors. The senior forward averaged 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for Valpo as a junior.
Valpo Tabbed Sixth in Horizon League: The Crusaders were picked to finish in sixth place this season in the Horizon League according to the conference’s preseason poll. Last year the Crusaders finished 16-14 overall and 10-8 during the league campaign, finishing fourth. Green Bay was selected to win the Horizon League title for the 12th consecutive season.
Freeman Among Winningest Active Coaches: Keith Freeman entered the 2009-2010 season ranked 42nd among all active Division I coaches for career victories. He has guided the Crusaders to more than 50% of the program’s victories all-time at Valpo.
Valpo Adds Four for Next Year’s Class: Head coach Keith Freeman has signed four players to National Letters of Intent for next year. Joining the Crusaders for the 2010-2011 season are: Maegan Callaway, a 6’0” center from Mooresville High School in Mooresville, Ind.; Tabitha Gerardot, a 6’0” forward from Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Liz Horton, a 6’1” forward from Barr-Reeve High School in Cannelburg, Ind.; and Stefanie Lang, a 6’4” center from Valparaiso High School in Valparaiso, Ind.