Crusaders Continue Postseason Run at Houston Monday
Sunday, March 23, 2008

Houston Game Notes

Game 36 - Valparaiso (22-13) at Houston (23-9) - Quarterfinals - College Basketball Invitational - Monday, March 24, 2008 - 8 p.m.

The Matchup: After its first postseason victory in 10 years, Valparaiso will look to advance to the semifinals of the CBI on Monday night as the Crusaders play at Houston.  The two teams have met up four times in program history, with the Cougars holding a 3-1 edge in the series.

Valpo Versus Conference USA:  Monday’s game will be the Crusaders’ 16th meeting all-time with a current Conference USA squad.  Valpo is 0-1 against UAB, 1-0 versus UCF and 0-1 versus Marshall.  The Crusaders’ most common current C-USA opponent has been Tulane, which Valpo holds a 5-3 all-time record against, including a 79-72 victory over the Green Wave on Dec. 2, 2005.

The College Basketball Invitational:  In its inaugural year, the CBI is a 16-team postseason tournament that joins the NCAA Tournament and the NIT to give Division I teams three postseason tournaments.  The CBI is single-elimination, up until the Championship Series, with all games being played at campus sites.  Prior to the semifinals, the four remaining teams will be re-seeded. The Championship Series will be a best of three series (home-away-home), in which the higher seed will get the first and last (if necessary) home games.

Last Time Out: Shawn Huff scored the eventual game-winning basket with 2:45 to play and Valparaiso held Washington scoreless the rest of the way as the Crusaders earned a thrilling 72-71 victory over the Huskies in opening round action of the College Basketball Invitational Wednesday evening in Seattle, Wash.  The win was the first by the Crusaders in postseason play since the 1997-98 squad advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.  In addition, it is Valpo’s first-ever victory over a current Pac-10 school.  Freshman Bryan Bouchie paced the Crusaders in the scoring column with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, the second-highest output of his career.  Urule Igbavboa added 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with six rebounds, while Brandon McPherson knocked down three triples on his way to 18 points.

On the Air: Today’s game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a four-station entity carrying Crusader athletics all over Northwest Indiana.  Originating from WVUR, 95.1 FM in Valparaiso, the Valpo Sports Radio Network also includes WEFM, 95.9 FM in Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM in Valparaiso; and WWLO, 89.1 FM in Lowell.  Veteran broadcaster Todd Ickow returns for his 17th season on play-by-play, while WVUR’s Adam Amin will handle the color commentary.

Keeping a Postseason Tradition Alive: With this year’s bid to the CBI, the Crusaders’ senior class of Shawn Huff, Jarryd Loyd and Calum MacLeod makes its first appearance in postseason play.  The appearance keeps alive a streak that started with the Valpo basketball class of 1996, which was the first to experience postseason play on the D-I level.  Since then, all 16 classes (counting through this year’s freshman class) have appeared in at least one postseason tournament over their four years.

Ending the Season Strong:  Valparaiso entered the CBI as one of the tournament’s hottest teams.  Prior to their loss to Cleveland State in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship, the Crusaders had won six consecutive games dating back to their February 23 99-94 double overtime win over Miami [Ohio].  During the six-game win streak, Valpo won by an average of 5.3 points per game and won all six games by single figures, including two games that required extra time to determine a winner.

Loyd Rakes In League Honors...: Jarryd Loyd received recognition from the Horizon League March 3, being named the league’s first-ever Sixth Man of the Year.  The senior guard has come off the bench in all but one of Valparaiso’s 35 games this season, averaging 11.9 points and 4.0 assists per game.  He leads the team and is fourth in the Horizon in assists, and is also second on the Valpo squad in scoring.  In league play, Loyd paced the circuit with a 1.87 assist-to-turnover ratio.  Loyd also was named to the League’s All-Tournament squad after averaging a team-best 17.3 points/game over Valpo’s three games.

...As Does Huff: Fellow senior Shawn Huff was named the league’s final Player of the Week of the regular season.  Huff averaged 14 points per game in Valpo’s wins over Milwaukee, Detroit and Wright State during the week as the Crusaders won all three contests to finish the regular season in a tie for fourth place in the league standings.  He capped the week with a spectacular 3-point play against the Raiders with 1.6 seconds remaining in overtime to give Valpo the 75-73 victory, seen nationally on ESPN2.

Bringing Experience With Them: The Crusaders made the step up to the Horizon League this season with a core group of experienced players.  Valpo returns eight of 11 players who took the court last season, including each of its top seven scorers.  93.6% of last year’s scoring, 86.6% of last year’s rebounding and 90.4% of last year’s minutes played returned for the 2007-08 campaign, the highest returning percentage in each category among Horizon League squads.

Best Start: Nine conference championships.  Seven NCAA Tournament appearances.  A magical run to the Sweet 16.  302 wins.  These are just some of the accomplishments that Crusader head coach Homer Drew and his players had piled up during Drew’s first 18 seasons at the helm of the Valpo men’s basketball program.  But none of Drew’s teams had accomplished what this year’s squad did: winning ten of the season’s first 11 games.  The previous best start under Drew came from the 1996-1997 team, which started 9-2 in its first 11 contests.

Huff Breaks 1,000: Senior forward Shawn Huff reached a milestone in Valpo’s Horizon League quarterfinal win over Wright State on March 7.  Huff’s fifth three of the game, which put Valpo ahead for good with under four minutes to play, gave the senior 1,001 career points.  The senior reached the mark in his 105th career game, and has increased his scoring output each year, going from 4.4 points per game as a freshman to a team-best 12.7 points per game this year.  Huff now stands at 1,024 career points after scoring eight points last time out against Washington.

Huff Among Tops in Nation: Shawn Huff ranks as the second most accurate 3-point shooter in the nation through games of March 16 and has now connected on 47.8% (88-of-182) of his tries from downtown this season.  That mark would rank third in a single season in Crusader history, while his 89 makes have only been surpassed by Bryce Drew (3x) and Mike Jones all-time at Valpo.  Huff has knocked down 168 career triples, sixth-most in Valpo history, and has connected on 43.4% of his attempts from behind the arc, good for third on Valpo’s all-time chart in the category. 

Crusaders Making Their Mark: Huff is not the only Crusader plastered throughout the Valpo record books, however.  Jarryd Loyd currently ranks fourth in the Valpo annals in assists, having dished out 401 career helpers, and sits in tenth place in assists in a single season with a total of 139 this year.  Three of the top-10 3-point shooters in Crusader history are on this year’s squad, including Huff, Brandon McPherson and Samuel Haanpää, who tops Valpo’s chart in the category.  Meanwhile, Urule Igbavboa has connected on 55.7% of his shots over his first three seasons, tied for the third-best clip in program history.  Igbavboa’s 256 rebounds this season are the ninth-most in a single campaign all-time at Valpo, while his 524 career caroms rank 18th in the Crusader annals.

Shakeup in the Starting Lineup: Valparaiso used the same starting lineup in each of the season’s first 23 games, but since then, the lineup has been anything but stable.  Five different quintets have been on the floor at the tip over the last 11 games. Michael Rogers has started the last eight games for Valpo, while Bryan Bouchie has earned seven starts.  10 of the 11 Valpo players who have seen the court this season have now started at least one game, with only Jake Diebler, Shawn Huff, and Urule Igbavboa starting every game.

Shooting From 19’9”: Valparaiso has proven to be one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams so far this season. The team average of 9.3 made 3-pointers per game is good for 11th nationally.  It’s not just one player that has been a threat for Valpo from behind the arc either, as the team’s top three 3-point shooters are all averaging better than one make per game and are all connecting on at least 40% of their attempts from downtown.  The Crusaders have been consistent from behind the arc as well, nailing at least seven 3-pointers in 32 of their 35 games, including reaching double figures on 15 occasions.

Giving Viewers a Show: Valparaiso hosted three games on the family of ESPN networks from the ARC over a month’s span earlier this season, and gave viewers dramatic endings to all three contests.  The Crusaders’ game against Butler on February 5 [ESPN2]came right down to a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.  Valpo then defeated Miami on February 23 [ESPN Classic] in double overtime, and followed with an overtime win over Wright State on March 1 [ESPN2].  Valpo was one of just six schools to host three home games over that time span on one of the three ESPN networks, joining Indiana, Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Villanova.