VALPO (14-13) vs. IPFW (6-20)
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 23 - 7:05 p.m. CT
WHERE: ARC, Valparaiso, Indiana
RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Andy Viano announcing.
TV: (tape-delay) - Comcast Channel 23 in Valparaiso - Dick Harlan and Paul Curtis announcing. Airs Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. and Feb. 28 at noon.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Homer Drew, who has a career record of 537-332 in his 28th season and a record at Valpo of 268-210 in his 16th season. IPFW is led by interim head coach Joe Pechota, who has a career mark of 3-5 in his 1st season and a record at IPFW of 3-5 in his 1st season.
SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 1-0
LAST MEETING: Feb. 28, 2004 - Valpo won 83-61 in Valparaiso.
OPPLAND MAINTAINS CONSISTENCY: Dan Oppland ranks 3rd in the Mid-Con in scoring with 18.1 ppg. The 6'8" junior has scored 1,119 points. In addition to scoring in double figures in 24 of the 27 games, Oppland is averaging 19.6 ppg. in Mid-Continent Conference games (ranks 4th). Overall, he also stands 4th in the league in free throw percentage (.785) and 9th in field goal percentage (.519).
VALPO M.A.S.H. UNIT: Homer Drew has been forced to juggle a unit that has been besieged with injuries this season. Five players - senior point guard Ali Berdiel (25), freshman Shawn Huff (5), sophomore Kenny Harris (10), freshman Jarryd Loyd (4) and sophomore Jimmie Miles (5) have missed a total of 49 games due to injuries. Berdiel is out of action indefinitely. Valpo has played with eight scholarship players in nine games this season.
COLCLASURE 2nd IN MID-CON IN 3-POINT FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE: Seth Colclasure stands 2nd in the Mid-Continent Conference in 3-point percentage. Colclasure owns a .450 mark, making 58 of 129 from beyond the arc.
In addition to hosting IPFW on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. in its home finale, Valpo (14-13) will recognize two seniors - guard Ali Berdiel and head manager Steve Ruggles - who have made significant contributions to the success of the basketball program.
Berdiel, a 6'6" point guard from Ponce, Puerto Rico, has entertained Crusader fans with his dazzling passes and explosive scoring ability. He has been a member of three Mid-Continent Conference Championship teams. A three-year starter, Berdiel helped Valpo capture the outright Mid-Con regular season title and the tournament championship in 2004. A Second Team All-Mid-Con selection and a member of the Mid-Con All-Tournament Team, Ali ranked 2nd in the league and finished 17th nationally in assists last season. Berdiel has played in two NCAA Tournaments as he helped the Crusaders win a school- record 25 games and both the Mid-Con regular season and tournament titles in 2002 as a freshman. As a sophomore, he finished 2nd in the Mid-Con in steals and 3rd in assists as Valpo won the regular season title, advancing to the NIT. Berdiel has twice won Valpo's Dick Koenig Assist Award and earned the Homer Drew Sr. Award in 2003 as the team's most improved player. On Valpo's all-time lists, he ranks 3rd in assists with 398 and tied for 7th in steals with 142. Berdiel's 2004-05 season has been hampered by an injury as he has not played since the second game (Nov. 23).
Ruggles has served as Valpo's head manager for the last two years and has worked as a team manager for five years.
VALPO RANKS 2nd NATIONALLY IN 3-POINT FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE: Valpo ranks 2nd in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage through games of Feb. 21. The Crusaders, who led the nation for three straight weeks, own a 41.6 percentage. Oklahoma State has vaulted to the top spot, shooting 42.9 percent. Arizona ranks 3rd (41.4).
HOWARD BLANKETS MID-CON CATEGORIES: Junior Ron Howard has elevated his game to a higher level this season. Valpo's second-leading scorer (14.1 ppg.), Howard ranks among the Mid-Con leaders in scoring (10th), assists (8th, 3.8) and free throw % (8th, .748). Howard averages 17.5 ppg. in Mid-Con games, ranking 6th.
Valpo's Games Against ORU, UMKC to Air Live On WYIN 56: Valpo's road games against Oral Roberts on Saturday (7:05 p.m.) and UMKC on Monday (7 p.m.) will be televised live on WYIN 56.