Valparaiso (1-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #2: Monday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m. CST
at #7/7 Kansas (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Allen Fieldhouse (16,300) - Lawrence, Kan.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso travels to one of the nation's most hallowed venues, as the Crusaders face off against #7/7 Kansas Monday evening. The game is the first of four that the Crusaders will play as part of the Las Vegas Invitational, with the first two games being played at campus sites.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso started the game on a 14-0 run Friday night in the season opener against IU Northwest and never looked back, eventually defeating the RedHawks 111-64. Brandon Wood led the Crusader effort with 20 points as four Valpo players finished in double figures.
Following the Crusaders: Every game this season will be available on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with Monday's game broadcast live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso), WEFM (95.9 FM, Michigan City) and WJOB (1230 AM, Hammond). Todd Ickow is back for his 20th season on play-by-play, while Aaron Leavitt will handle the color commentary Monday. The live audio will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com, with live stats available through the official Crusader website as well. The game will be televised throughout the state of Kansas on Jayhawk TV and is available nationwide as part of the ESPN Full Court Package, as well as online at ESPN3.com.
Head Coach Homer Drew: One of only a handful of coaches at the Division I level coaching on a floor named in his honor, head coach Homer Drew is the seventh-winningest active coach in D-I men’s basketball. Drew enters Monday's game with a 349-293 record in 21 seasons at the helm of the Crusader program and a 618-415 record in 32 years overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Monday marks the third time that the Crusaders and Jayhawks have met on the hardwood, with Kansas earning victories in both prior meetings. The last showdown between the two squads came on Jan. 2, 2002, with the Crusaders dropping a hard-fought 81-73 decision to Kansas on that occasion. Valpo was actually tied with the Jayhawks with 5:04 remaining in that game and was still within four points with 1:30 to go before succumbing. Lubos Barton led the Crusaders with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Tony Falu added 18 points. Drew Gooden (30 points, 18 rebounds) and Nick Collison (14 points, 15 rebounds) both tallied double-doubles for the Jayhawks.
Scouting Kansas: The Jayhawks enter Monday night's game also 1-0 on the season after defeating Longwood Friday night, 113-75. Kansas, ranked seventh in both the AP and coaches' preseason polls, was led Friday by 18 points from Marcus Morris, a Second Team All-Big 12 selection a season ago. Twin brother Markieff Morris posted a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Tyshawn Taylor also racked up a double-double, registering 17 points to go along with 10 assists.
Taking On the Best: Playing a team ranked among the top-10 in the nation is nothing new for the Crusader men's basketball program. In just the last four seasons, Valpo has faced off 10 times against top-10 teams (Marquette, Ohio State, North Carolina 3x, Butler 2x, Purdue 2x, Michigan State). Four of those games, the Crusaders played the top-10 foe to within 10 points, including twice when they had a shot to tie at the horn. In addition, Valpo had a stretch of five straight years from 2004-2009 when it took on the nation's top-ranked team in non-league action.
A Family Affair: It will be a family reunion of sorts on Monday when Valpo takes the court at Allen Fieldhouse. Crusader senior guard Howard Little will be facing off against his cousin, Jayhawk fifth-year senior guard Mario Little.
Offensive Explosion: The Crusaders lit up the scoreboard throughout Friday night's game, scoring 59 first-half points and adding 52 second-half points. A short-range flip up and in by Cory Johnson with 5:49 to play put Valpo over the century mark as it utilized the third digit on the scoreboard for the first time since a 105-73 win over Longwood on Jan. 7, 2006. The 111 points matched the most the Crusaders have scored in the last 15 seasons as well.
Offense Leads the Way: Of course, it's no surprise that Valpo can fill up the scorebook, as the Crusaders ranked atop the Horizon League in a number of offensive categories a year ago. Valpo paced the league with 73.2 points per game and also ranked atop the league charts in field goal percentage (.467) and 3-pointers made per game (7.7). The Crusaders ranked among the nation’s top-50 teams in the latter two categories, as well as assists/game (15.0).
Valpo Tabbed Fourth in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso was picked to finish in fourth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members. The Crusaders tallied 312 points in the polling. Butler, the reigning national runner-up and last season's regular season and tournament champions, was a unanimous selection atop the league standings. Detroit edged out Cleveland State as the second pick, while Milwaukee and Wright State were picked fifth and sixth, respectively. Green Bay, Loyola, UIC and Youngstown State rounded out the polling.
A Look Back at 2009-2010: Valparaiso improved throughout the 2009-2010 season, closing the year with 15 wins. The Crusaders went 10-8 in league play, finishing in a tie for fourth place in the Horizon League regular season standings. It marked the second time in Valpo’s first three seasons as a Horizon League institution that it had finished in the top half of the standings.
A Lot of Production Returns: Having lost just one regular and three players in all from last year’s squad, Valparaiso returns the vast majority of its production from last season. The 10 letterwinners, including four starters, who return for the Crusaders in 2010-2011 comprised 82.8% of the team’s scoring and 91.2% of the team’s rebounding from a year ago.
Wood Named Preseason First Team All-League: Redshirt junior guard Brandon Wood was one of five players named to the preseason Horizon League First Team All-League squad as announced in mid-October. Wood, the league’s Newcomer of the Year and a Second Team All-League honoree in 2009-2010, led the circuit in scoring at 17.7 ppg a year ago, while his 565 total points tied for ninth-most in a single season in Valpo history. Also an NABC All-District 12 Second Team choice, he ranked among the league's best as well in 3-pointers per game (1.8, 6th) and free throw percentage (.813, 7th).
Johnson a Second Team Honoree: Fifth-year senior forward Cory Johnson also earned a spot on the preseason All-League Second Team after receiving Second Team and All-Newcomer Team honors last year in his first year with the Crusaders. Johnson averaged 15.6 ppg and 5.8 rpg a year ago, good for fourth and eighth among Horizon League players, respectively. He connected at a 55.6% clip from the floor, second-best in the league and 20th nationally, and hit better than half of his three-point attempts as well.
Oh Captain My Captain: The Crusaders will have a pair of captains for the 2010-2011 season. Cory Johnson and Howard Little will serve in the role, each for the second straight year.
Sun, Fun and Basketball: This year’s Crusader squad got the chance to bond as a team with a preseason foreign trip to Cancun in August, the first time Valpo has taken advantage of the chance to take a preseason trip. The Crusaders got 10 days of practice in Valpo before taking off for Cancun with all 13 players, including newcomers Jay Harris and Kevin Van Wijk. While down in Cancun, Valpo won all four games, including a come-from-behind 102-84 win over Pioneros de Quintana Roo, which finished third in the 20-team LNBP last year.
Wood Leads the Way: Wood, who scored 20+ points 12 times in his first year as a Crusader, led the way for Valpo in the season opener with 20 points in just 20 minutes. The redshirt junior also matched his career high with six assists, five of which came in the second half, and committed just one turnover.
No Sophomore Slump: Sophomore Ryan Broekhoff, who stood out in the Crusaders' pair of exhibition games, posted another stellar performance in the season opener. Broekhoff hit 7-of-11 from the floor, including all five attempts inside the arc, for 18 points, matching the second-best effort of his career. The sophomore also grabbed six rebounds and tied his career high with three blocked shots.
Almost Perfect: Johnson saw just 14 minutes of action from his starting spot on Friday, but made the most of every second on the court. Johnson scored six points in the game's first 1:17 en route to 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor.
Now Boarding: Despite being just 6'3", senior Howard Little has been one of the Crusaders' best rebounders during his four-year career and showcased that again Friday night. Little tied for game-high honors with eight rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end. The senior also scored 17 points on Friday, with four of his six baskets coming directly off of offensive rebounds.
A Helping Hand: The Crusaders tallied 29 assists on their 43 field goals against IU Northwest, with a trio of players handing out six assists apiece, including the aforementioned Wood. Redshirt sophomore Erik Buggs registered six helpers, the second-best effort of his career in the category, to go along with four rebounds and three steals. Meanwhile, freshman Jay Harris also totaled six assists in his collegiate debut while also scoring nine points.
Crusaders Ink Edwards to NLI: Valparaiso men’s basketball head coach Homer Drew announced Nov. 13 that Richie Edwards of Hillsborough [Fla.] C.C. has signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period and will join the Crusader program for the 2011-2012 campaign. Edwards, who will have two seasons of eligibility left when he joins the Crusaders, was a First Team All-Conference selection for the Hawks as a freshman, averaging better than 16 points and seven rebounds per game. A product of Lakeland H.S., he was named the Lakeland Ledger Player of the Year as a high school senior, leading his squad to the regional finals while posting 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest.
Quickly: Valpo connected on 36-of-51 (.706) attempts from inside the arc against IU Northwest and pulled down nine offensive rebounds on those 15 misses ... the Crusaders totaled 19 offensive rebounds in all against the RedHawks ... Valpo scored 70 points in the paint, 32 second-chance points and 29 fast break points Friday ... Kevin Van Wijk (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals) and Hrvoje Vucic (8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) joined Harris in making their collegiate debuts Friday ... Harris, who led the Crusaders in minutes in both exhibitions, played a team-high 25 minutes off the bench ... 10 Crusaders played at least 10 minutes against IU Northwest ... Valpo's 111 points was the most it's ever scored in a season opener.