Mohamed Kone (Lyon, France/Jean Paul Saltre) had an emphatic coming out party Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center, posting a double-double in the first half and leading the Crusaders to a 92-62 win over Calumet in their final exhibition game of the season.
The much-ballyhooed junior college transfer finished the night with 21 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots in 24 minutes, shooting 8-of-10 from the field. With the score 27-21 midway through the first half, Kone ignited a 23-7 Valpo spurt to close the half, scoring 11 points during the run including a pair of dunks.
Jimmie Miles (Country Club Hills, Ill./Rich Central) put the game away early in the second, scoring eight points in the first 65 seconds of the period, including a pair of three-pointers. Miles finished with 17 points and three steals in 18 minutes of action.
Miles' three steals were part of a 15-steal night for the Crusaders, who turned 24 Calumet turnovers into 34 points. Valpo also dominated in the post, outscoring the Crimson Wave 30-6.
Dan Oppland (Saint Louis, Mo./Whitfield), playing against his twin brother Mike for the first time in their careers, started slowly with only six first half points, but scored 10 points in six minutes of second half action. The elder Oppland finished with seven rebounds to go along with his 16 points, while younger brother Mike led Calumet with 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting.
Several young Crusaders also saw extensive minutes in the game, led by freshman Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) who tallied eight points, four rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes. Fellow freshman guard Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) had seven points, including a pair of three-pointers. The Brown and Gold hit 11-of-26 threes on the night, making as many from deep as the Crimson Wave attempted.
The Crusaders finished the night shooting 48.4% from the floor, but just 50% (19-of-38) from the free throw line. Calumet shot 33.9% for the game, and was rebounded by Valpo 46-39.
The game marked the return to the ARC not only for Mike Oppland, who played at VU from 2002-04, but also for Calumet Head Coach Jason Hawkins and assistant Chris Artis. Hawkins was a walk-on guard for the Crusaders from 2000-03, and Artis wore the Brown and Gold from 1995-97.
Valpo now gets 11 days off before they begin the regular season, November 23 at IPFW. That game is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. and can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.