Possibly more than any other single team at Valparaiso University, the 1997-1998 men’s basketball team put the school on the national radar following its improbable run to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament and, on February 28, the team will be inducted into the Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Crusaders posted a 23-10 record overall that season, won the Mid-Continent Conference for the fourth consecutive year and entered the NCAA Tournament as the 13-seed in the Midwest Region.
A 70-69 upset win over Mississippi thanks to “The Shot” and an 83-77 overtime win over Florida State sent the Crusaders to Saint Louis for the regional semifinals. A six-point loss to Rhode Island ended the season a step away from the Elite Eight, but head coach Homer Drew’s squad finished the season ranked 23rd in the country in the final USA Today/CNN Coaches poll, the first time the Brown and Gold ever cracked the national rankings.
Members of the 1997-1998 basketball team are: Bryce Drew, Cory Gibson, Aric Graham, Bill Jenkins, Bob Jenkins, Jason Jenkins, Jared Nuness, Jay Phifer, Marko Punda, Chris Sparks, Jamie Sykes, Aaron Thomason, Tony Vilcinskas, and Zoran Viskovic. The managers were Jason Baldwin, Matt Couser, John Gresley and Paul Ziemba.
The Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on Saturday, February 28 at 3:30 p.m. in the Ballroom at the Harre Union. The inductees will also be recognized at halftime of both the men’s and women’s basketball games on the same day.