The Valparaiso men's basketball team has been picked to finish in fourth place in the Horizon League according to preseason polling of the league's head coaches, media members and sports information directors. In addition, guard Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]) has been selected to the preseason All-League First Team, while forward Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) has been tabbed a Second Team selection.
The Crusaders tallied 312 points in the polling to be picked in the fourth position. Butler, the reigning national runner-up and last season's regular season and tournament champions, was a unanimous selection atop the league standings. Detroit edged out Cleveland State as the second pick, while Milwaukee and Wright State were picked fifth and sixth, respectively. Green Bay, Loyola, UIC and Youngstown State rounded out the polling.
Wood receives the nod on the league's preseason First Team after being named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year a season ago. The redshirt junior led the league in scoring (17.7 ppg) in his first year as a Crusader, while his 565 total points were ninth-most in a single season in Valpo history. Wood, who earned Second Team All-League honors last year and was an NABC All-District 12 Second Team choice, also ranked among the league's best in 3-pointers per game (1.8, 6th) and free throw percentage (.813, 7th).
Johnson, like Wood, was a Second Team All-League and All-Newcomer Team selection a year ago in his first season as a Crusader. The fifth-year senior averaged 15.6 ppg and 5.8 rpg, good for fourth and eighth among Horizon League players, respectively. Johnson connected at a 55.6% clip from the floor, second-best in the league and 20th nationally, and hit better than half of his three-point attempts as well.
Wood and Johnson are joined by eight other returnees from last year's squad which went 10-8 in Horizon League play. The 2010-2011 season kicks off for the Crusaders with an exhibition contest Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. against Olivet Nazarene, while the regular season begins Friday, Nov. 12 at the ARC at 7:05 p.m. against IU Northwest.