VALPO (4-4) vs. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (6-1)
WHEN: Monday, December 23 - 7:05 p.m. CST
WHERE: ARC, Valparaiso, Indiana
TV: (tape-delay) - Channel 43 in Valparaiso - Dick Harlan and Paul Curtis announcing. Airs Dec. 26 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 27 at 12:30 p.m.
RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Ed Schillinger announcing.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Scott Drew, who is 4-4 in his 1st season. Central Michigan is led by Jay Smith, who has a career mark of 79-94 in his 7th season.
SERIES RECORD: Central Michigan leads 1-0
LAST MEETING: 1983-84 - Central Michigan won 78-67
LAST GAME: Valpo defeated Belmont 83-65 on Friday in Valparaiso. Central Michigan defeated Bradley 74-71 last Wednesday in Peoria, Illinois.
NEXT UP: Valpo travels to play Purdue on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST (noon CST).
Just prior to celebrating Christmas, Valpo (4-4) entertains Central Michigan (6-1) on Monday. The contest completes a three-game homestand. The Crusaders own a two-game win streak after defeating Belmont 83-65 on Friday at the ARC. Raitis Grafs led four players in double-digits with 19 points. The 6'11" senior made eight of 12 shots. Stalin Ortiz added 13 points, four assists and four steals off the bench. Kikas Gomes had 12 points and Seth Colclasure contributed 10. The Crusaders shot 57 percent overall, while limiting the Bruins to 42 percent.
Central Michigan is led by 7-footer Chris Kaman, who averages 19.3 ppg., 12.4 rpg. and 3.0 blocks per game. The Chippewas own a four-game winning streak that includes three road victories. CMU defeated Michigan (85-78) on Dec. 3 and its lone loss occurred at DePaul (92-56) on Nov. 30.
PASSING FANCY: After dishing out 24 assists (tied season high) on 32 baskets against Belmont, Valpo has passed for 41 assists the last two games. The Crusaders committed just 10 turnovers in each game.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Friday's victory over Belmont extended Valpo's homecourt win streak to 15.
PURDUE TIME CHANGE: Due to television considerations, Saturday's game at Purdue will tip off at 1 p.m. EST (noon CST).
GRAFS NAMED MID-CON PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior Raitis Grafs was selected as the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week for the week ending Dec. 15. The 6'11" center scored a season-high 28 points to lead Valpo to the 87-79 double-overtime win over Samford. He drained 11 of 12 free throws and made 8 of 15 shots from the field against the Bulldogs. Grafs also led the Crusaders with 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in a road loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee. For the week, Grafs averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
HOT AT THE STRIPE: Over the last three games, the Crusaders are shooting 82.5 percent from the free throw line, making 66 of 80 charity tosses. Raitis Grafs made 90 percent (18 of 20) during that span, while Ali Berdiel (12 for 12) and Seth Colclasure (8 for 8) were perfect at the stripe. Stalin Ortiz made 75 percent (15-20) during the trio of games.