Sunday, January 8, 2006
ORAL ROBERTS (8-7, 3-0 Mid-Con) AT VALPARAISO (8-4, 2-1 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Monday, January 9, 7:35 p.m.

WHERE: Valparaiso, Ind. ? Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)

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

TV: WYIN 56 in Merrillville, Ind. and WHME, Channel 46 in South Bend, Ind. Dick Harlan will provide the play-by-play with Joe Arredondo adding 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 546-340 overall and 277-217 at Valpo. Oakland is led by Scott Sutton who is 108-86 in his 7th season overall and with the Golden Eagles.

BEHIND THE SERIES: Since their arrival in the Mid-Continent Conference, the Golden Eagles and Crusaders have been the league's healthiest and most-competitive rivalry. The all-time series stands at 10-10, but ORU made an important breakthrough last season, winning the series' first road game January 8 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Up until that point, neither team had won on their opponent's home court. The series is tied, however, because the Brown and Gold have twice ended Oral Roberts' season by winning in the Mid-Con Tournament.

LAST TIME OUT: The Crusaders continued their offensive onslaught with a dominating 105-73 win over Longwood Saturday night at the ARC. Dan Oppland's 19 first-half points gave Valpo an 11-point halftime lead, and a 27-5 run to start the second half blew the game open for good. Oppland finished with 19 points, while Shawn Huff scored a career-high 18 for the second-straight game and added a game-high seven rebounds. The Brown and Gold shot 55% from the field, 50% from three-point land, out-rebounded the Lancers 41-33, and forced 21 turnovers on 11 steals.

NO, YOU SHOOT IT: As the Valpo offense continues to roll, the Crusaders continue to rack up the assists, leading the conference and ranking 17th nationally, averaging 18.7 helpers per game. Saturday night, Jarryd Loyd led the way with five assists and Mohamed Kone matched a season-high with four. This season, the Crusaders have assisted on 224-of-348 (64.4%) of their made baskets.

RUNNIN' AND GUNNIN': Not coincidentally, the Crusaders' increased emphasis on sharing the ball has been accompanied by a big boost in scoring. After an ugly loss at home to UMKC on Dec. 27, the Brown and Gold have burned up the nets, scoring 289 points, shooting 50.0% from the field and connecting on 30-of-57 three-pointers. The increased scoring can also be attributed to Valpo's full-court pressure defense, which has racked up 33 steals and forced 57 turnovers in their last three games, all wins. Through 12 games this season, the Crusaders are scoring 80.6 points per game, first in the Mid-Con and 47th in the country.

CRUSADER KIDS CLUB: Valparaiso University and Family Express unveiled the Crusader Kids Club earlier this week, an opportunity for area youth age 12 and under to attend up to 14 Crusader home men's and women's basketball games for free. Interested kids can sign up online at by clicking on the ?What's New" tab located at the top of the page.

MISTER TOP 10: Dan Oppland's 17 points Monday night pulled the senior into the career top 10 in scoring, surpassing John Wolfenberg's total of 1,430 points. Already in the top 10 in rebounds, the Saint Louis native is one of five Crusaders in the top 10 all-time in both points and rebounds, joining Jim Ford, Harry Bell, Raitis Grafs and Lubos Barton. Oppland surpassed Ford in total points on Saturday and is now just 20 points behind David Redmond for eighth place all-time. The senior is also five rebounds out of eighth place. Oppland also sits in the top 10 in field goal percentage, making 52.4% of his attempts throughout is career. The senior can join another exclusive class if he finishes this season shooting above 50% (he's currently at 53.2%). Only Antti Nikkila and Raitis Grafs have made at least 50% of their shots each of their four years as a Crusader.

HUFF AND PUFF: Shawn Huff's hard work during the off-season has paid dividends during the first portion of this season. The sophomore, who played for the Finnish National Team this summer, is averaging 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season in nearly 20 minutes of action, up from 4.4 points and 2.0 boards last year. In the last two games, with his father Leon in from Helsinki, the sophomore has blown up, scoring a career-high 18 points in each game, making 10-of-14 shots, 7-of-9 three-pointers and 9-of-13 free throws. Huff had a game-high seven boards Saturday.

HERE COMES BIG MO: A new-and-improved Moahmed Kone has rebounded from a 2-point, 4-board night Dec. 27 against UMKC to put together three of the best games of his career. In those three wins, Kone has averaged 12.0 points and 7.7 rebounds. More impressively, however, is the smart way he's played on both ends of the court. In those three games, Kone's made 15-of-31 shots, totalled only six turnovers and recorded six steals. Up until the last three, he had been shooting only 39.3%, averaging 3.7 TOs and 0.4 steals.

THAT'S MORE LIKE IT: Since busting out of a 2-for-15 shooting slump from three to start the season, Seth Colclasure has returned to his old form, now making 40.8% of his three-point attempts, just above his career average. Since making 4-of-4 threes in Valpo's big road win at Charlotte, the Decatur, Ind. native has hit 18-of-34 (52.9%) shots from deep. He had one of the best nights of his career on December 29 at Centenary, going 5-of-6 from long distance, the fourth time at Valpo that he's made five three-pointers in a game.

ORAL ROBERTS NOTES: As if winning Mid-Con Player of the Year as a sophomore and earning the preseason Player of the Year nod this season weren't enough, junior Caleb Green is on an incredible tear as of late. Averaging 21.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game overall, Green has totalled a mind-blowing 65 points and 26 rebounds in his last two games, both wins.

With 6'11" Mickey Michalec manning the middle, and athletic forwards Larry Owens and Green attacking the glass, the Golden Eagles are a dominant rebounding team. Owens is averaging 7.9 rebounds per game to go along with Green's 9.6. The Golden Eagles are out-rebounding opponents by an average of 6.6 boards per game.

Junior guard Ken Tutt, a preseason First Team All-Conference selection, is up to his old tricks, shooting 37.6% from three-point range this season. Tutt is averaging 14.1 points and 2.7 assists per game this year.

Valpo team stats