Friday, November 25, 2005

WHEN: Monday, November 28, 7:05 p.m.

WHERE: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)

RADIO: Valpo Sports Radio Network (95.1 FM, WVUR, 95.9 FM, WEFM, 1270 AM, Relevant Radio, 1500 AM, WAKE). Todd Ickow will handle the play-by-play with Brent Whitlock providing the color commentary.

TV: None

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Homer Drew, who is in his 29th season of coaching, and 17th with the Crusaders. He is 539-336 overall and 270-213 at Valpo. IUSB is led by Micah Shrewsberry who is 0-6 in his first season with the Titans and overall.

BEHIND THE SERIES: Homer Drew and the Crusaders are 2-0 all-time against the coach's former team, twice knocking off the Titans at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Drew coached one season at IUSB, 1987-88, immediately before beginning his run with the Crusaders. Six years later, Drew's Crusaders took down IUSB 92-60 en route to a 20-8 record and the start of a six-year run of 20+ win seasons. Then, to open the 2000-01 season, Valpo again beat IUSB, 80-66. That Crusader team went on to finish 24-8, ultimately falling to Southern Utah in the Mid-Con title game.

FORT WAYNE ESCAPE: Valpo opened up a 17-point lead midway through the first half, but watched it slowly whittled away before coming back to defeat IPFW 74-68 Wednesday night in Fort Wayne, Ind. Dan Oppland led the way with 26 points and eight rebounds, and Mohamed Kone began his Crusader career with a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double in the winning effort.

HELLO, GOODBYE: Monday's game against the Titans is Valpo's first home game of the season but last for nearly a month, as they will take to the road for a six-game swing against top-flight opponents like Marquette, Charlotte and Duke. The Crusaders do not return to the Athletics-Recreation Center until they open conference play on December 27 against UMKC. Monday's matchup is one of four home non-conference games this season, as the Brown and Gold will host IPFW, Longwood, and a to-be-determined opponent in the ESPN Bracket Buster event.

THE SAVVY SIX SCORES: Thanks to a 2004-05 team that didn't lose a single player to graduation, this year's Valpo squad features a six-member senior class. Dan Oppland, Ron Howard, Seth Colclasure, Mohamed Kone, Ali Berdiel and Jim Hooper combined to give the Brown and Gold 52 points and 29 rebounds in the Crusaders' season-opening win over IPFW.

KENNY HARRIS FOUNDATION UNVEILED: Before Monday's game, Dave Hooper, brother of Crusader guard Jim, will announce the formation of the Kenny Harris Foundation, aimed to raise money for student-athletes in need of ongoing medical assistance. Harris, the 2004-05 Mid-Continent Conference Sixth Man of the Year, collapsed April 11, 2005 in a supervised workout at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Monday, Harris will address the crowd and Valpo community before the game, and will be on-hand with Hooper and other friends and supporters to collect money and raise awareness of the foundation.

DAN STILL THE MAN: Senior forward Dan Oppland opened his season Wednesday with a bang, scoring 13 of Valpo's first 17 points and leading the Crusaders to a victory. It was the seventh time in his last eight games that he has scored at least 20 points, and the fifth straight game he led the team in scoring. Oppland's career numbers also continue to improve, with the senior sitting 16th all-time in scoring, just 13 behind Darryl Ashby, and 12th all-time in rebounding. Oppland earned Second Team All-Conference honors as a sophomore, improved to the First Team last season, and was placed on the preseason First Team this year.

LOYD SHINES IN STARTING ROLE: Sophomore point guard Jarryd Loyd was thrust into the spotlight early in his freshman season, making his first collegiate start in his third game, filling in for the injured Ali Berdiel. Since that game, in which he dished out nine assists, Loyd has not given up the starting job, parlaying his efforts last season into a strong start this year. Loyd keyed a 10-0 Crusader run late in the second half Wednesday with bookend three-pointers, finishing with 12 points (the second highest output of his career) and three assists in the win. The Lincolnwood, Ill. native hit both of his attempts from beyond the three-point line, and committed only one turnover in 20 minutes of play.

BIG MO BREAKS OUT: After a quiet exhibition debut, highly-touted juco transfer Mohamed Kone busted out in a big way in the November 12 exhibition win over Calumet. Kone played just 24 minutes but scored 21 points (on 8-of-10 shooting), grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked two shots and had four assists. Rated the top junior college center in America by a number of scouting services last year, the 6'11" Kone posted his first career double-double in his first regular season game Wednesday at IPFW. Kone finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds (five offensive) in a team-high 32 minutes, and also blocked two shots.

HOWARD'S END: Senior Ron Howard, winner of Valpo's 2005 Homer Drew Sr. Most Improved Player Award, comes into this season looking to turn that momentum into another all-conference season. Howard scored 13.8 points/game last season, eight more than he did as a sophomore, and racked up 116 assists, tops on the team. Dangerous driving to the basket and from the outside, Howard picked up his game in conference last year, scoring 16.6 points/game and earning Second Team All-Conference honors.