Valpo Opens Regular Season at Home Friday
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Valpo Opens Regular Season at Home Friday
Howard Little and the rest of the Crusaders open the regular season Friday. (Jon L. Hendricks)
Valparaiso (0-0,0-0 Horizon)
Game #1: Friday, Nov. 12, 7:05 p.m. CST
IU Northwest (0-4)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso opens the 2010-2011 regular season campaign Friday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center as the Crusaders host IU Northwest.  This marks the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Crusaders have opened their schedule with a home game.

Recapping Exhibition Play: The Crusaders cruised to victories in both of their exhibition contests, defeating Olivet Nazarene 93-58 and Aurora 98-66.  Valpo led by as many as 39 against ONU and as many as 50 against Aurora.  Brandon Wood paced the Crusaders in exhibition action, averaging 22.0 ppg on 75% shooting.

Following the Crusaders:
Every game this season will be available on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, but Friday’s game will only be broadcast live over the airwaves on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso).  Todd Ickow, back for his 20th season, is on the play-by-play, while Keaton Gillogly will handle the color commentary Friday.  The live audio will also be available at, with live video through the Horizon League Network available as well.  Live stats will also be available through the official Crusader website.

Head Coach Homer Drew: One of only a handful of coaches at the Division I level coaching on a floor named in his honor, head coach Homer Drew is the seventh-winningest active coach in D-I men’s basketball.  Drew enters Friday’s game with a 348-293 record in 21 seasons at the helm of the Crusader program and a 617-415 record in 32 years overall as a head coach.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and IU Northwest are meeting for the first time in regular season action on the hardwood.

The Road Ahead: The Crusaders hit the road for the first time this year, taking on #7/7 Kansas Monday evening as part of the Las Vegas Invitational.  Valpo then returns home next Thursday to play against Purdue North Central.

Scouting IU Northwest: The RedHawks, an NAIA squad, are 0-4 on the 2010-2011 season entering Friday’s game.  The game against the Crusaders is considered an exhibition game for IUN.  Most recently, the RedHawks suffered a 104-100 overtime defeat in consolation action at the Purdue Classic to Judson College.  Senior guard Carl Hampton Jr. leads the RedHawks, averaging nearly 20 ppg in the early going, while fellow senior guard Keith Dean backs up Hampton with 16.5 ppg.

Crusaders in Recent Openers: Since Drew returned to the bench prior to the 2003-2004 season, Valpo owns a 5-2 record in season openers.  The Crusaders had a four-game winning streak in season openers snapped last year when they fell in their debut at Ball State.  Valpo is currently on a three-game winning streak when playing the season opener at the ARC, however.

Valpo Tabbed Fourth in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso was picked to finish in fourth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members.  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.

A Look Back at 2009-2010: Valparaiso closed the 2009-2010 season with a 15-17 overall record, a six-win improvement over the previous year.  The Crusaders also went 10-8 in league play, finishing in a tie for fourth place in the Horizon League regular season standings.  It marked the second time in Valpo’s first three seasons as a Horizon League institution that it had finished in the top half of the standings.

Offense Leads the Way:
The Crusaders ranked atop the Horizon League in a number of offensive categories a year ago.  Valpo paced the league with 73.2 points per game and also ranked atop the league charts in field goal percentage (.467) and 3-pointers made per game (7.7).  The Crusaders ranked among the nation’s top-50 teams in the latter two categories, as well as assists/game (15.0).

A Lot of Production Returns: Having lost just one regular and three players in all from last year’s squad, Valparaiso returns the vast majority of its production from last season.  The 10 letterwinners, including four starters, who return for the Crusaders in 2010-2011 comprised 82.8% of the team’s scoring and 91.2% of the team’s rebounding from a year ago.

Wood Named Preseason First Team All-League: Redshirt junior guard Brandon Wood was one of five players named to the preseason Horizon League First Team All-League squad as announced in mid-October.  Wood, the league’s Newcomer of the Year and a Second Team All-League honoree in 2009-2010, led the circuit in scoring at 17.7 ppg a year ago, while his 565 total points tied for ninth-most in a single season in Valpo history.  Also an NABC All-District 12 Second Team choice, he ranked among the league's best as well in 3-pointers per game (1.8, 6th) and free throw percentage (.813, 7th).

Johnson a Second Team Honoree: Fifth-year senior forward Cory Johnson also earned a spot on the preseason All-League Second Team after receiving Second Team and All-Newcomer Team honors last year in his first year with the Crusaders.  Johnson averaged 15.6 ppg and 5.8 rpg a year ago, good for fourth and eighth among Horizon League players, respectively.  He 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.

Oh Captain My Captain:
The Crusaders will have a pair of captains for the 2010-2011 season.  Cory Johnson and Howard Little will serve in the role, each for the second straight year.

Sun, Fun and Basketball: This year’s Crusader squad got the chance to bond as a team with a preseason foreign trip to Cancun in August, the first time Valpo has taken advantage of the chance to take a preseason trip.  The Crusaders got 10 days of practice in Valpo before taking off for Cancun with all 13 players, including newcomers Jay Harris and Kevin Van Wijk.  While down in Cancun, Valpo won all four games, including a come-from-behind 102-84 win over Pioneros de Quintana Roo, which finished third in the 20-team LNBP last year.

Wood Does It All:
Wood led the Crusaders in exhibition play in scoring, averaging 22.0 ppg, including a 24-point, 10-of-11 effort against Aurora.  But Wood has diversified his game during exhibition action, grabbing 12 rebounds, second-most on the team, and also handing out a team-best 12 assists while committing just two turnovers.

Broekhoff Gets Defensive: Sophomore Ryan Broekhoff showcased his shooting ability in the exhibition games, hitting 6-of-9 from behind the arc and 10-of-14 overall while averaging 15.5 ppg.  But it was his rebounding and defense that really stood out.  Broekhoff corraled seven rebounds in each game, leading the Crusaders with 14 rebounds over the two games.  On the defensive end, Rowdy blocked seven shots and registered five steals in just 24 minutes against ONU, and then followed with another rejection and four more steals in 21 minutes versus Aurora.

Welcome Back Buggs: Redshirt sophomore Erik Buggs, who was awarded a medical redshirt last year after playing just six games due to injury, was in the starting lineup at point guard for both of Valpo’s exhibition contests.  Buggs hit 5-of-7 from the field for 16 points in 34 minutes over the two games, while also tallying five assists and five steals.

One-Hit Preseason Wonders: Fifth-year senior Cory Johnson and sophomore Matt Kenney both played in just one of the two exhibition contests, but both made a big impact in their respective games.  Johnson scored 18 points and added five rebounds in Valpo’s win over Olivet Nazarene, while Kenney scored 12 points in just 11 minutes on 5-of-7 shooting and also blocked three shots in the win over Aurora.

The Debuts: Crusader fans got their first look at three players in game action during exhibition play.  Freshman Jay Harris actually played the most of any Crusader over the two games, playing 54 minutes and averaging 8.5 ppg and 3.0 apg.  Redshirt freshman Hrvoje Vucic started against Aurora and played 36 minutes over the two contests, while sophomore Kevin Van Wijk debuted against Aurora and went a perfect 3-of-3 for 7 points and four rebounds in 12 minutes.