IUPUI (12-7, 7-1 Mid-Con) at VALPARAISO (11-7, 4-4 Mid-Con)
WHEN: Saturday, January 28, 2006 ? 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Valparaiso, Ind. ? Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)
RADIO: Valpo Sports Radio Network (95.1 FM, WVUR, 95.9 FM, WEFM, 1230 AM, WWCA, and 1500 AM, WAKE). Todd Ickow will handle the play-by-play with Brent Whitlock providing the color commentary.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Homer Drew, who is in his 29th season of coaching, and 17th with the Crusaders. He is 549-342 overall and 280-220 at Valpo. IUPUI is led by Ron Hunter, who is 185-152 in his 12th season overall and with the Jaguars.
BEHIND THE SERIES: Rivals since the Jaguars' 1998 arrival in the Mid-Continent Conference, the Crusaders hold a 14-4 advantage in the all-time series over IUPUI. Valpo won the first ten of the first 11 meetings, but since the 2002-03 season the rivalry has really picked up. It ignited in the 2003 Mid-Con Championship game when IUPUI beat Valpo 62-60 on a lay-in at the buzzer. The next season, the two team's again met for the conference title (the third season in a row) this time with Valpo winning 75-70. IUPUI is 3-4 all-time at the ARC including a win last season.
LAST TIME OUT: Calvin Wooten's 40-point show carried the Oakland Golden Grizzlies to a 95-89 win over the Crusaders Thursday night at the Athletics Center O'Rena. The win was Oakland's first in 17 all-time matchups with the Brown and Gold. Wooten's 40 came on 10-of-20 shooting and a 15-of-16 night from the foul line. Ali Berdiel led Valpo with a season-high 25 points, pacing six Crusaders in double-figures. Valpo shot 50.8% from the field and made 13-of-26 three-pointers, but turned it over 19 times and watched the Golden Grizzlies shot a sizzling 58.0% from the floor.
FROM WAY DOWNTOWN: Through the first nine games of this season, the Crusaders were shooting a mystifying 29.7% from three-point range, down 12% from a season ago. In the nine games since then, however, the Brown and Gold are making 48.6% of their attempts from long distance and averaging 9.6 makes per game. Valpo's 39.0% overall mark is second in the Mid-Con and 50th in the nation.
JEKYLL AND HYDE: It's been a wild last month for the Crusaders, who seemed to right their season December 29 at Centenary. The Brown and Gold beat the Gents 89-74 to start a six-game winning streak in which they averaged 89.8 points and out-scored opponents by over 20. Now, since a January 14 win at Western Illinois, the Crusader have lost three straight, allowing 86.0 points and losing by an average of 10.7 per game. And the numbers just get weirder from there, with Valpo opponents shooting 55.3% during the Crusaders losing streak, and the Brown and Gold connecting on 53.6% of their shots during the win spurt. Perhaps the most telling difference may be in the turnovers, where Valpo has a +2.8 margin in the wins but a -1.3 margin in the losses.
BACK HOME AGAIN: The Athletics-Recreation Center is a welcome sight for the Crusaders, who play six of their next seven games on the home floor. The Brown and Gold are 5-1 this season at the ARC and have won 21 of their last 26 home contests.
MAN ON FIRE: Seth Colclasure's senior year has turned around from a sluggish start into the best of his four seasons in a Valpo uniform. The one-time Indiana H.S. All-Star is averaging 8.8 points per game and shooting 48.1% from three-point range. In eight conference games, Colclasure's been better still, averaging 11.1 points and connecting on 24-of-44 three-pointers, fourth in the conference. Statistically the best free throw shooter in the history of high school basketball, the Decatur, Ind. native has made 14-of-15 foul shots this season, and has turned the ball over only 14 times in 18 contests. The senior made the 125th triple of his career at Chicago State and has the ninth-highest total all-time.
STILL THE MAN: Dan Oppland scored in double-figures, barely, against Oakland Thursday night, extending his streak of games with 10+ points to 25 games. The senior nailed a three-pointer with 29 seconds left to move him from nine to 12 points on a night in which he made just 5-of-15 field goals but did pull down 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. The last time Oppland failed to reach double-figures was the last time IUPUI and Valpo met, February 12, 2005. In fact, Oppland did not score in double-figures in either of the games against the Jaguars last season. Ron Hunter and the IUPUI defense held Oppland to 5-of-18 combined shooting, 0-of-7 from three-point range, and only 12 points. Oppland did manage to pull down 13 combined rebounds as Valpo went 1-1 vs. IUPUI.
OUT OF NOWHERE: Taking on a strong bench role this season due to tremendous backcourt depth, Ali Berdiel's offensive production took a little bit of a downturn. The fifth-year senior had scored in double-figures only five times and never had more than 11 points through the season's first 17 games. On Thursday night at Oakland, Berdiel made his first start in nearly a month and went off for 25 points, on 8-of-14 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in 34 minutes. The Andrean High School graduate made 4-of-8 three-pointers and came up just three points shy of his best career night.
HELLO AGAIN: Mohamed Kone returned to the Crusader lineup Thursday and immediately made his presence felt, scoring 12 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Kone played a team-high 36 minutes and snared four of the Brown and Gold's 15 team offensive rebounds. His two blocks Thursday gave him 36 for the season, tops in the Mid-Con, and two shy of 10th on Valpo's single-season list.
IUPUI NOTES: 2004-05 Mid-Con All-Newcomer team member George Hill has taken his game to the next level in this his sophomore season. Hill is averaging 18.8 points per game, fifth in the conference, and 6.3 rebounds. In league play he's been even better, averaging 21.5 points and shooting 55.2% from the field. Hill leads the Jags in points, assists, steals, FG% and FT%, and is second in rebounding average.
A rough non-conference season put IUPUI below .500 when Mid-Con play began in late December. Since then, however, the Jaguars have been a new team, winning seven of eight games and out-scoring their Mid-Con foes by nearly 10 points per game. IUPUI's only conference loss so far this season came January 14 at Oral Roberts, 86-76.
The Jaguars have taken full advantage of their trips to the charity stripe this season, making a league-best 75.4% of their free throws, good for 21st in the country.