The Matchup: Coming off a win over Detroit on Thursday,
Valparaiso welcomes Wright State to the ARC on Saturday. The two
squads are tied for fifth place in the league standings heading into
Series History: The Crusaders swept all three meetings with the Raiders in Valpo’s inaugural league season by a combined 12 points, evening the all-time series mark at 5-5. Most recently, Valpo took the lead for good with 1:50 to play and made six straight free throws in the final minute to beat WSU 72-67 in Horizon League quarterfinal action on Mar. 7, 2008. Shawn Huff led all players with 21 points, surpassing the 1,000 point milestone late in the game, while Urule Igbavboa added 17 and Brandon McPherson 16.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso held Detroit scoreless for a near-ten minute stretch in the first half and allowed the Titans to hit just 14 field goals for the game en route to an easy 64-41 victory in Horizon League play on Thursday. Senior forward Urule Igbavboa scored his 1,000th career point with 13:32 to play, making him the 28th player in Crusader basketball history to reach the milestone. Senior guard Jake Diebler got the Crusader offense going in the first half while the defense was shutting Detroit down, scoring all of his game-high 15 points in the opening stanza. Igbavboa, who was held scoreless in the first half, picked up the slack in the second period, going for 14 points over the final 20 minutes.
Following the Crusaders: Today’s game can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a four-station entity carrying Crusader athletics all over Northwest Indiana. Originiating from WVUR, 95.1 FM in Valparaiso, the VSRN also includes WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; and WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell. Veteran broadcaster Todd Ickow returns for his 18th season on play-by-play for the Crusaders, while WVUR’s David Schroeder will handle the color commentary. Live audio will also be available online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats and video. This is also the second Crusader men’s basketball game being broadcast this year on Lakeshore Public Television, and will also be available on ESPN Full Court.
Getting Defensive: Valparaiso allowed Detroit to connect on
just 14 field goals Thursday as the Titans scored just 41 points for
the game. The 41 points allowed by the Crusaders was the fewest any
Valpo team has allowed since Feb. 26, 2000, when IUPUI was able to
score just 41 points at the ARC in a 68-41 Valpo victory.
First-Half Defense Stands Out: Detroit scored just 16 first-half points Thursday, continuing a trend over the Crusaders’ last five games on the defensive end in the opening half of play. Opponents are shooting just 31.9% in the opening 20 minutes over the last five contests, including just a 23.4% clip from behind the arc. Valpo has held its foes to an average of just 21.6 points in the first half over that time span.
No Drama Here: Very rarely this season have Valpo’s games gone down to the wire. Last year, 21 of the Crusaders’ 36 contests were decided by single digits, but so far this year, only two of their 16 games have been nine-point spreads or less. Valpo has not played a single-digit game since its 75-70 overtime loss to La Salle in the Virgin Islands.
Spreading Out the Scoring: The Crusaders have had a variety of different players contribute in the scoring column this season. Six different players are averaging between 6.1 and 11.6 points per game for Valpo at the midway point of the year. In addition, nine players have also scored in double figures at least once so far this year for Valpo, including four players (Buggs, Fumey, Haskins, Witt) who are in their first season on the court and two more (Little, Rogers) who are in just their second season.
Drew Nears Milestone: Crusader head coach Homer Drew is now just two wins shy of 600 for his career after Valpo’s victory over Detroit Thursday evening. Drew would become just the 33rd Division I head coach to reach the 600-win milestone.
National Audience Awaits Valpo: After appearing on national television seven times during the 2007-08 campaign, Valparaiso will make at least three nationally televised appearances during the 2008-09 season. On Dec. 20, Valpo was featured on ESPNU in a showdown with top-ranked North Carolina. The Crusaders’ contest at Purdue Dec. 28 was broadcast on the Big Ten Network, while their Jan. 30 league tilt at Butler will be carried on ESPNU.
Tabbed Seventh: The Crusader men’s basketball team has been picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League for the 2008-09 season, according to polling of the league’s head coaches, sports information directors and media members. Cleveland State has been tabbed the preseason favorite with 40 of the possible 49 first-place votes. Wright State was picked second with UIC third and Green Bay fourth. 2007-08 league champion Butler was selected fifth, while Milwaukee was picked just ahead of the Crusaders in sixth. Loyola, Detroit and Youngstown State rounded out the polling.
Postseason Trips: Valparaiso’s trip to the inaugural College
Basketball Invitational last season was its first postseason berth
since the 2003-2004 campaign and extended an impressive streak. 16
consecutive classes of Crusader basketball players have experienced at
least one postseason tournament.
Igbavboa Joins 1,000-Point Club: Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League selection Urule Igbavboa, the Crusaders’ leading scorer (11.6 ppg), reached the 1,000-point milestone for his career in the second half Thursday, becoming just the 28th player in Valpo basketball history to score in four figures. The senior, who has scored in double figures in five straight contests, is just 80 points outside Valpo’s all-time top-20 in the category.
Diebler Handles the Ball: Senior guard Jake Diebler led all scorers Thursday with 15 points, all in the first 18 minutes, but also extended an impressive streak of consistency handling the basketball. Diebler did not commit a turnover in his 25 minutes against Detroit and has not given up the basketball in 180 minutes of court time, since coughing it up in the first half at UCF. The senior also has had just two games in the past two seasons with a negative assist/turnover ratio.
Next Year’s Newcomers: Valparaiso has signed a quintet of players who will join the program for the 2009-2010 season, four of whom are freshmen and one junior college transfer. The five newcomers are:
- Ryan Broekhoff, a 6’6” guard from Frankston, Victoria, Australia. Broekhoff was named Australian Junior National Male Player of the Year earlier this year and was the MVP of the U20 Australian national championship.
- Chris Halvorsen, a 6’8” forward out of Henry Sibley [Minn.] H.S. Halvorsen helped lead the Warriors to a state championship appearance last year and was selected to the All-Tournament Team. He also has twice earned All-Conference honors.
- Matt Kenney, a 6’3” guard out of Mooresville [Ind.] H.S. Kenney was an honorable mention All-State honoree last year, while also earning All-Indianapolis Metro West First Team accolades and All-Conference honors.
- Tommy Kurth, a 6’1” guard out of Penn [Ind.] H.S. Kurth was also an honorable mention All-State honoree last year and has been ranked as the #54 point guard in the Class of 2009 by ESPN.com. He has been among the top-25 scorers in the area the last two years.
- Brandon Wood, a 6’3” guard from Kokomo, Ind. Wood is playing this year at Highland [Ill.] C.C. after playing just six games last year at Southern Illinois. A former Indiana All-Star, he is projected as the top incoming point guard in the Horizon League next year by Rivals.com.