Crusader Women Tip Off Season Friday in WNIT at DePaul
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Crusader Women Tip Off Season Friday in WNIT at DePaul
Betsy Adams and the Crusaders look for their first win ever against DePaul. (Ray Acevedo)

Valparaiso (0-0,0-0 Horizon)
Game #1: Friday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m. CST
at DePaul (0-0, 0-0 Big East)
McGrath Arena (3,000) - Chicago, Ill.

Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso opens the 40th season of women’s basketball on Friday even as the Crusaders head to the Windy City to battle DePaul in the opening game of the 2010 Preseason WNIT.  The Crusaders are looking to improve upon last year’s 9-21 season and are participating in one of the nation’s premier preseason tournaments for just the second time in program history.

On the Air: Friday’s game will be broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at  Chris Kleinhans-Schulz and Drew Taylor will be calling all of the action live from McGrath Arena.  Live stats will be available through for the game as well.

Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 17th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 269-202 (.571) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold.  In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 398-249 (.615) career mark.  He is Valpo’s all-time winningest coach and has amassed more than half of the victories in the program’s history.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and DePaul are meeting for the 17th time with the Blue Demons having won each of the previous 16 contests between the two schools.  The two teams have not met since Dec. 29, 2004 when DePaul posted a 75-49 win over the Crusaders at the Blue Sky Classic in Hanover, N.H. hosted by Dartmouth.  DePaul is 8-0 against Valpo in Chicago, with the Crusaders having last visited in 2003, a 70-47 Blue Demon victory.

Wrapping Up Exhibition Action: Valpo opened exhibition play with a 70-46 victory over Grace on Nov. 2.  Stefanie Lang scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Betsy Adams added 13 points, five assists, and four steals for the Brown and Gold.  Valpo committed just 12 turnovers in the win while holding the Lancers to 31.5% shooting.  On Nov. 6, Valpo downed Lewis 64-44 behind 14 points and 16 rebounds from Tabitha Gerardot.  Laura Richards added 14 points, seven boards, and four assists.  The Crusaders limited the Flyers to just 22.6% shooting for the game, including just 19.2% from beyond the arc.

Scouting DePaul: The Blue Demons enter 2010-2011 following a 21-12 season one year ago, including a 9-7 mark in the Big East.  DePaul has all five starters back from a team which earned a berth in its eighth straight NCAA Tournament last year, and is picked sixth in the Big East preseason poll.  Keisha Hampton is the team’s top returning scorer, averaging 13.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 2009-2010 while Sam Quigley added 13.1 points and 5.1 assists per night.  DePaul posted a pair of exhibition wins, downing Northwood 112-52 on Oct. 30 and Illinois Wesleyan 72-57 on Nov. 7.

Crusaders in Openers: Valpo is 12-26 all-time in season openers, with results from the 1973-1974 season unknown.  The Crusaders won their season opener last year 86-57 against Indiana Tech at the ARC, the second straight victory in a season opener for Valpo.  The Brown and Gold have never won three straight season openers.  Valpo has not opened a season away from home since November 9, 2007 when the Crusaders fell at Bowling Green. 

Valpo in the WNIT: The Crusaders have played in the Preseason WNIT just one other time in school history, losing at Colorado State 94-71 on Nov. 13, 1998.  In Valpo’s last appearance, the tournament was just a single elimination event whereas today the WNIT guarantees every school at least three games.

About the WNIT: The Preseason WNIT features 16 schools from 16 different conferences with every game being played on campus sites.  The winner of the Valpo-DePaul game will meet the winner of Friday night’s Lamar-Missouri State contest on either Sunday or Monday, with the semifinals and finals slated for next weekend.  The loser of the Valpo-DePaul game will play two games next weekend as well, at one of two consolation sites against opponents to be determined from the first round results.

Valpo Tabbed Ninth in Preseason Poll:
Valparaiso was picked to finish in ninth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members.  Finishing with 82 points, the Crusaders were just two points behind eighth place Wright State.  Green Bay was picked to win the league followed by Butler and Detroit.  Cleveland State and UIC shared the fourth spot with Milwaukee predicted to finish sixth and Loyola seventh.   Youngstown State was picked last in this year’s preseason balloting. 

Varner to Miss Season with ACL Injury: Valpo senior Ashley Varner will miss the 2010-2011 season due to an ACL injury she suffered during the fall.  Varner would have been one the Crusaders’ top returning post players, but plans to use the season as a redshirt year now and return to the court for 2011-2012.  Varner averaged 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Crusaders last year with a team-leading 17 blocked shots.

Freeman Among Winningest Active Coaches: Keith Freeman enters the 2010-2011 season tied for 43rd 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 and holds every one of Valpo’s coaching records.  He is just two victories shy of reaching 400 for his career.

Youth is Served: Entering the season opener against DePaul on Friday night there are only three Crusaders on the roster that have appeared in more than 30 games wearing a Brown and Gold uniform.  Senior Ashley Varner has played in 84 contests making 41 career starts, most among Valpo players.  Classmate Rashida Ray seen action in 63 games during her career while junior Betsy Adams has appeared in 50 contests.

Crusaders to Have Tri-Captains: Head coach Keith Freeman has announced that the Crusaders will have tri-captains for the 2010-2011 season.  Serving in that role are seniors Ashley Varner and Rashida Ray along with junior Betsy Adams.

No Relation Here: Despite having three Lang(e)’s on the roster, none of the three players are related to one another.  Gina Lange returns for her sophomore season after arriving from Wyoming, Minn. and averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while appearing 16 times as a freshman last year.  Freshman Stefanie Lang is a local product from Valparaiso High School who earned Honorable Mention All-State accolades for the Vikings.  Erika Lang joined the Crusader roster this fall as a walk-on.  The freshman hails from Las Vegas, Nev.

Adams Returns as Valpo’s Top Scorer: Junior Betsy Adams returns to the lineup for the Brown and Gold as the team’s top scorer after averaging 11.4 points per game.  For her career Adams has 381 points (7.6 per game), most among any Crusader on the roster.  Adams shot 35.4% from three-point range last season, making 64 triples.

Richards Finished 2010-2011 Among Assist-to-Turnover Ratio Leaders:
  Sophomore Laura Richards concluded her rookie campaign last year third in the Horizon League with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.  She dished out 87 helpers (2.9 per game) while committing just 46 turnovers.  Richards was one of two Crusaders to appear in all 30 games a year ago, starting 28 as a freshman.

Gerardot Stands Out in Exhibition Action: Freshman Tabitha Gerardot had a pair of impressive debuts for the Crusaders during exhibition action.  Starting both games, Gerardot averaged 12.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game during the two contests, making 10-of-14 free throws.  She scored 10 points and had eight boards in the opener against Grace and followed that performance up with 14 points and 16 rebounds last Saturday against Lewis.

Lang Comes Up Big for Valpo in Exhibition Play: Standing at 6-4, Stefanie Lang utilized her size to her advantage during exhibition play, averaging 8.5 rebounds per night.  In her debut against Grace, Lang pulled down nine rebounds and scored 14 points in just 16 minutes of action, before adding nine points and eight boards in 14 minutes against Lewis.

This and That:
Kelly Watts is the team’s top returning rebounder (5.9 rpg) ... Betsy Adams finished last season with 64 three-point field goals, 10th on the school’s single season list ... Adams’ 181 triple attempts also ranked her eighth on that chart ... the Crusaders shot 39.1% from the floor during exhibition play and averaged 16.0 turnovers per contest ... Valpo held its opponents to just 26.7% shooting from the floor and 18.5 turnovers per game ... Valpo has had 17 winning seasons in the last 20 years dating back to 1990-1991.