The Matchup: Valparaiso plays the first of two consecutive
games within the Chicago city limits on Thursday, as the Crusaders
travel to the Windy City to face off against UIC.
Series History: The Crusaders and Flames split two matchups
during the 2007-08 season, with each club winning on its home court.
UIC holds a 27-10 advantage in the all-time series, including a 77-53
victory at the UIC Pavilion last year on Feb. 11 in the two squads’
last meeting. The Crusaders were down just four in that game at the
break, but a 22-3 run early in the second half clinched the victory for
UIC. Shawn Huff led Valpo with 19 points, knocking down five
three-pointers, while Jarryd Loyd added 14 points in his only start of
Last Time Out: Sophomore guard Michael Rogers put up a
double-double with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds Saturday
evening, but Valparaiso came up on the short end of a 64-48 decision
against Wright State at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Wright State
led by as many as 20 in the first half, but the Crusaders cut the lead
down to nine at the break. A 3-pointer coming out of halftime made it
a six-point game, but that was as close as Valpo would get. Rogers,
who picked up his third career double-double and second against the
Raiders, grabbed 11 of his 15 boards in the first half alone, helping
the Crusaders to a 37-29 advantage on the glass. De’Andre Haskins
joined Rogers in double figures in the scoring column with ten points
off the bench.
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
Getting Defensive: Valparaiso allowed Detroit to connect on
just 14 field goals last 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 and Wright State only reached 28 after one half of play
Saturday, continuing a trend over the Crusaders’ last six games on the
defensive end in the opening half of play. Opponents are shooting just
33.3% in the opening 20 minutes over the last six contests, including
just a 26.9% clip from behind the arc. Valpo has held its foes to an
average of just 22.7 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 17
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
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 6.4 and 11.3 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 last 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.
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.
Doubling Up: Sophomore guard Michael Rogers posted his third
career double-double last time out against Wright State, which was the
second double-double of his career against the Raiders at the ARC.
After going for 21 and 12 versus the Raiders last year, Rogers put up
12 points and a career-best 15 rebounds on Saturday.
Igbavboa Joins 1,000-Point Club: Preseason Second Team
All-Horizon League selection Urule Igbavboa, the Crusaders’ leading
scorer (11.3 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 73 points
outside Valpo’s all-time top-20 in the category.
Diebler Shoots and Handles: Senior guard Jake Diebler has been
one of the Horizon League’s most accurate shooters in league play.
Diebler has connected at a 52.2% rate behind the arc in league games,
second in the league, and is one of just four players averaging two or
more triples per game in league action. Last time out, the senior had
an impressive streak snapped, as a turnover in the second half against
the Raiders was his first in 206 minutes of court time.
Next Year’s Newcomers: Valparaiso will have six new players on
the roster next year, four of whom are freshmen, one junior college
transfer and one transfer. The six 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
- 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.
- Beas Hamga, a 7’0” center who transferred to Valpo from UNLV.
Hamga started classes in the spring semester, making him eligible to
play at the end of the fall semester next year. The native of Cameroon
was ranked 26th in the country in his high school class by Rivals.com,
where he was rated a five-star recruit.
- 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
- 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