Valparaiso (7-4, 2-0 Horizon)
at Lou Henson Award Tournament
Game #12 - Monday, Dec. 20 - 4 p.m. CST
vs. Eastern Michigan (1-8, 0-0 MAC)
Game #13 - Tuesday, Dec. 21 - TBA
vs. Oakland (6-6, 2-0 Summit) or Rochester College (8-5)
Athletics Center O'Rena (3,000) - Rochester, Mich.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso turns around quickly from a win over IPFW to play at the Lou Henson Award Tournament in Rochester, Mich. The Crusaders play Eastern Michigan on Monday afternoon and then will face either former Mid-Con rival Oakland or Rochester College on Tuesday.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso limited IPFW to just 26% shooting on the night and led from start to finish in a convincing 63-47 victory over the Mastodons Saturday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Offensively, Kevin Van Wijk led the way with 16 points off the bench, hitting six field goals while getting fouled on five of his makes.
Following the Crusaders: Every game this season will be available on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with the two tournament games broadcast live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso) and WEFM (95.9 FM, Michigan City). Todd Ickow is back for his 19th season on play-by-play, while Aaron Leavitt will handle the color commentary this week. The live audio will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com, with live stats available through the official Crusader website as well.
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 355-297 record in 21 seasons at the helm of the Crusader program and a 624-419 record in 32 years overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Valparaiso is 1-1 all-time against Eastern Michigan, with each squad winning on its home court in the late 1980's. The Crusaders have never played Rochester College, but have a long history with Oakland when the two sides were in the Mid-Continent Conference together. Valpo holds a 16-3 advantage in the all-time series over the Golden Grizzlies.
The Road Ahead: Valparaiso closes out the 2010 calendar year at home following Christmas, as the Crusaders host Ball State on the 28th. Valpo will ring in the new year down in Indianapolis, preparing to take on Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse on New Year's Day.
Dominating Defensively: While defense has keyed most of the Crusaders' victories this season, Saturday night's win over IPFW was easily the most dominant performance on the defensive end of the court by Valpo this year. The Crusaders held the Mastodons to just 13 field goals on 26% shooting and limited IPFW to just 47 points overall. In addition, Valpo held IPFW to just three 3-pointers on the evening.
Limiting the Help: Perhaps the most impressive stat defensively out of Saturday's game was the fact that Valpo gave up just three assisted baskets to the Mastodons. IPFW did not register its first until 1:43 into the second half, picked up its second assist with 5:30 to play and tallied its last with just 1:11 remaining. The three assists surrendered by the Crusaders matched the lowest total by a Valpo opponent since Mount Saint Mary's tallied just three assists in a Valpo win on Dec. 30, 1999.
Keep Them Off the Scoreboard: Over a nearly 14-minute period spanning both halves against IPFW, the Crusaders gave up just one field goal to the Mastodons in a 20-possession stretch. Valpo limited IPFW to just 1-of-14 shooting while also forcing four turnovers during that span, while expanding their lead from 26-20 to 52-26.
Locking Down Late: Valparaiso trailed 58-44 Dec. 2 with 8:40 to play at UIC, but the Crusader defense locked down the Flames over the final 13:40 of the game, allowing UIC to score on just four of its last 21 possessions. Then at Loyola Dec. 4, the Crusaders held the Ramblers scoreless after a free throw at the 8:37 mark to play for the next 6:51, forcing Loyola into ten empty possessions in a row.
Really Late Rally: Valparaiso trailed by five points with 48 seconds to play in regulation Dec. 11 at Toledo, but Brandon Wood helped force overtime with a 3-pointer, steal and fast-break basket in a 16-second stretch to tie the game. It was the first time the Crusaders have overcome a two-possession deficit in the final minute of play since Feb. 1, 2007 against Oral Roberts, when Valpo trailed by six with 41 seconds to play and forced overtime.
Working Extra Time: Valpo’s overtime contest at Toledo Dec. 11 marked the second overtime game for the Crusaders in a ten-day span, as they also played extra time at UIC on Dec. 2. The last time the Crusaders went overtime prior to UIC was on Nov. 24, 2008 in the Virgin Islands against La Salle.
Crusaders Match Attendance Record: Welcoming a top-20 team in Purdue to the ARC proved to be a formula for a packed house on Dec. 7. The game officially sold out four days in advance, and Tuesday night’s attendance was announced at 5,432, matching the all-time attendance record at the ARC, first set on Feb. 5, 2008 when Valpo hosted a top-10 Butler squad.
Breaking Out the New Gear: The Crusaders unveiled their new uniform design Dec. 7 against Purdue, and also debuted gray uniforms in the nationally-televised contest. The grays will serve as alternate uniforms, mainly for use on special occasions, while Valpo will continue to wear white jerseys at home and gold uniforms on the road.
Early Start Beneficial This Year: All four years the Crusaders have been in the Horizon League, they have played an early December league weekend. This year’s road sweep at UIC and Loyola was the second time in four years Valpo has started 2-0 on the road in early play, joining the 2007-2008 squad, which won at Wright State and Detroit to start the league slate.
Coming From Behind: The UIC game marked the third time in a four-game stretch that the Crusaders had erased double-digit deficits in relatively short order. At Ohio, the Crusaders trailed 31-16 with 4:11 to go in the first half before going on a 16-0 run to go into the half up a point. Then, against Northern Colorado, Valpo trailed by as many as 12 in the first half and by 10 with 4:08 to go in the opening period before going on an 18-6 run over the next 6:12 to take the lead. At UIC, a 10-point deficit with 4:47 remaining was negated by a 10-0 spurt over the next 3:46.
Defense Winning Games: It’s a simple concept, but the Crusader defense this season has led the way in the Valpo victories. The Crusaders are a perfect 7-0 this year when surrendering fewer than 70 points. In addition, Valpo won three straight games over Texas A&M-CC, UIC and Loyola despite not scoring 70 points in any of the three contests, the first time in nearly four years it has accomplished that feat.
Bringing Home the Hardware: Valparaiso captured the Upper Division Championship at the Las Vegas Invitational with victories over Northern Colorado and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. It marked the first time the Crusaders had won all of their games at a tournament site since November of 2007, when Valpo defeated Maryland Eastern Shore and Austin Peay on South Padre Island at the SPI Invitational.
A Big Victory: Valpo easily handled Purdue North Central Nov. 18, limiting the Panthers to just 44 points in a 98-44 victory. The 54-point margin of victory ties for the sixth-highest differential in program history, matching the winning margin in a 66-12 win against Chicago Tech back in the 1920-1921 season.
Offensive Explosion...: The Crusaders lit up the scoreboard throughout their season opener against IU Northwest, 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.
Followed By Struggles: But Valpo’s second game of the year, at #7/6 Kansas, wasn’t quite so smooth on the offensive end. The Crusaders’ 27.4% field goal percentage was their worst performance from the floor in at least a decade, while their two 3-pointers was the lowest since hitting just two treys against UMES Nov. 23, 2007. The 44 points was Valpo’s lowest offensive output since Dec. 2, 2008 at Cleveland State (42).
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.
Van Wijk Dominates the Inside: Sophomore Kevin Van Wijk came in off the bench and dominated in the paint against IPFW Saturday. Van Wijk hit 6-of-8 from the floor in his 19 minutes of play despite getting fouled on five of his six makes. The sophomore ended the game with a game-high 16 points while also grabbing five rebounds and blocking a career-high four shots. Van Wijk is now averaging 7.1 ppg on the season on 50% shooting.
Johnson Keeps Scoring: Fifth-year senior Cory Johnson posted the highest offensive output by a Crusader to date this year Dec. 11 at Toledo. Johnson knocked down 11 of his 21 shots from the field and added three free throws for a season-best 25 points, the fourth time in the last two seasons he has scored at least 25 points. After an 11-point performance against IPFW last time out, Johnson leads the Crusaders with 14.6 ppg.
Wood Fills It Up Quickly: Redshirt junior guard Brandon Wood had a pair of quick scoring spurts that kept the Crusaders in the game against Toledo. Wood scored five points in a 16-second span and also came up with a key steal to completely erase the Rockets’ five-point lead in the final minute of regulation, and then scored five more points in an eight-second stretch late in overtime to give the Crusaders a shot to tie at the buzzer. Wood, who ended the Toledo game with 17 points, followed with a 6-of-9 performance from the floor against IPFW for 12 points and is now averaging 14.1 ppg this year.
Filling Up the Stat Sheet: Wood has shown this year he can do more than just score, consistently putting up solid numbers in the rebounding and assists departments. The redshirt junior currently ranks among the league’s best in both assists (4.0 apg, t-4th) and assist/turnover ratio (1.91, 7th), while he also is tied for third on the team with 4.6 rpg.
Broekhoff Does It All: One of four Crusaders averaging in double figures on the season (11.4 ppg), sophomore Ryan Broekhoff was limited to a season-low three points against IPFW last time out. But the sophomore more than held his own with the rest of his performance, grabbing five rebounds, handing out a game-high five assists and tallying three steals. Broekhoff set new career highs for both assists and steals in the victory.
Team Rebounding: Broekhoff, Van Wijk and senior Howard Little all tied for team-high honors with just five rebounds against IPFW Saturday, yet the Crusaders still out-rebounded the Mastodons 36-34. It has been a balanced effort on the boards all season long for Valpo, as seven different players are averaging at least three boards per game but nobody is grabbing five boards per game. Little paces the Crusaders on the year with 4.9 rpg.
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: Freshman guard Jay Harris hit a pair of 3-pointers against IPFW and now has five triples in the last two games after connecting on just six in the season's first nine games ... the Crusaders led start to finish in the win over IPFW, the first game without a lead change against a Division I opponent for Valpo this season ... Valpo continues to lead the Horizon League in field goal percentage (.458) and ranks second in opponent field goal percentage (.394) ... Valpo’s online interactive recruiting guide is now available by visiting http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/ec5fd42f.