Valparaiso (2-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #4: Tuesday, Nov. 23 - 6 p.m. CST
Ohio (2-1, 0-0 MAC)
Convocation Center (13,080) - Athens, Ohio
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso embarks on a five-game stretch away from home on Tuesday evening as the Crusaders travel to Athens, Ohio to take on the Bobcats of Ohio University in the second game of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Last Time Out: Seven players scored in double figures as Valparaiso shot 67.9% from the floor and enjoyed a +38 advantage in the rebound column in a 98-44 victory over Purdue North Central Thursday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Ryan Broekhoff paced the Crusaders with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Following the Crusaders: Every game this season will be available on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with Tuesday's game broadcast live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso) and WEFM (95.9 FM, Michigan City). Todd Ickow is back for his 19th season on play-by-play, while Aaron Leavitt will handle the color commentary Tuesday. The live audio will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com, with live stats available through the official Crusader website as well.
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 Tuesday's game with a 350-294 record in 21 seasons at the helm of the Crusader program and a 619-416 record in 32 years overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: The Crusaders and Bobcats have faced off just once previously on the hardwood, and have not met for nearly 40 years. The only prior meeting between the two squads came on Jan. 3, 1973 in Athens, where Ohio claimed an 86-68 victory over Valpo.
The Road Ahead: Following Tuesday’s game, the Crusaders will fly out to Las Vegas for the final two games of the Las Vegas Invitational. Valpo will take on Northern Colorado Friday afternoon and then face either Bethune Cookman or Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the event’s final game on Saturday afternoon.
Scouting Ohio: The Bobcats, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, enter Tuesday’s game at 2-1 this year, most recently downing Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 83-70. Ohio, which will be playing its fourth consecutive home game to open the year, has four players averaging in double figures this season, led by D.J. Cooper’s 16.3 points per game.
A Big Victory: Valpo easily handled Purdue North Central last time out, limiting the Panthers to just 44 points in a 98-44 victory. The 54-point margin of victory ties for the sixth-highest differential in program history, matching the winning margin in a 66-12 win against Chicago Tech back in the 1920-1921 season.
Rebounding Dominance: A big part of the Crusaders’ win over PNC was their dominance over the Panthers on the glass. Valpo out-rebounded PNC by an incredible 51-13 margin, and actually grabbed more offensive rebounds (14) than PNC had total rebounds.
Accurate Shooting: One game after their worst shooting performance from the field in at least 10 years, Valpo rebounded in a big way against PNC. The Crusaders connected on 67.9% of their field goal attempts against the Panthers, including an amazing 85.7% (30-of-35) clip from inside the arc.
Offensive Explosion...: The Crusaders lit up the scoreboard throughout their season opener against IU Northwest, scoring 59 first-half points and adding 52 second-half points. A short-range flip up and in by Cory Johnson with 5:49 to play put Valpo over the century mark as it utilized the third digit on the scoreboard for the first time since a 105-73 win over Longwood on Jan. 7, 2006. The 111 points matched the most the Crusaders have scored in the last 15 seasons as well.
Followed By Struggles: But Valpo’s second game of the year, at #7/6 Kansas, wasn’t quite so smooth on the offensive end. The Crusaders’ 27.4% field goal percentage was their worst performance from the floor in at least a decade, while their two 3-pointers was the lowest since hitting just two treys against UMES Nov. 23, 2007. The 44 points was Valpo’s lowest offensive output since Dec. 2, 2008 at Cleveland State (42).
Offense Leads the Way: The first and third performances of the year are probably more representative of the results to come this season, based on 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).
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. 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 improved throughout the 2009-2010 season, closing the year with 15 wins. The Crusaders 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.
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.
Viva Las Vegas: Tuesday’s game is actually the second on a campus site for the Crusaders as part of the Las Vegas Invitational, with the final two games to be played in Vegas later this week. This is the second time in the last seven years Valpo has played in a tournament set up this way with the final games in Vegas, as in 2004-2005, the Crusaders were part of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic. That year, the Crusaders defeated Northwestern State at home and lost at Illinois before going to Las Vegas, where they lost to UNI before closing action with a win over Longwood.
Wood Leads the Way: After a 16-point performance against PNC on Thursday, Wood leads the Crusaders with 15.0 points per game this year. But the junior has also been big in other categories as well, as he leads the Horizon League averaging 5.7 assists per game after dishing out a career-best seven helpers against the Panthers. He also grabbed six rebounds versus PNC and is one of four Crusaders averaging at least five boards per game.
Rookie Gets the Start: Coming off of a 10-point performance at #7/6 Kansas, sophomore Kevin Van Wijk earned his first career start against PNC on Thursday and made the most of it, hitting 5-of-7 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the foul line for a career-best 17 points, just one off of team-high honors. Van Wijk, who also pulled down seven boards against the Panthers, currently ranks fifth in the league in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
No Sophomore Slump: Sophomore Ryan Broekhoff has had a pair of big performances early on this season. Most recently against PNC, Broekhoff led all players with 18 points and nine rebounds. The sophomore currently ranks third on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg) and leads all Crusaders in the rebounding department (6.0 rpg), while also entering Tuesday tied for second in the Horizon League with 2.0 blocked shots per game.
Post Presence: Johnson was the only Crusader to reach double figures in scoring in each of Valpo’s first two games. The fifth-year senior scored 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the opener against IU Northwest, and then tied for team-high honors with 10 points at #7/6 Kansas. Johnson also tied for the team lead with seven rebounds against the Jayhawks as well.
Now Boarding: Despite being just 6'3", senior Howard Little has been one of the Crusaders' best rebounders during his four-year career and has showcased that again in the early going this season. Most recently, Little pulled down five rebounds in the win over PNC and now is averaging 5.7 rpg, second-most among Valpo players. Of his 17 total rebounds through three games, 10 of them have been on the offensive end, placing Little second in the Horizon League in offensive rebounding.
Buggs Knows His Role: With so many scoring threats on the floor, redshirt sophomore Erik Buggs has adapted perfectly to his role at point guard in the early going. Buggs has only attempted one shot through three games and has just one point on a free throw. But he is averaging 3.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game through three contests, including a six-rebound, five-assist, no-turnover effort last time out against PNC.
Bench Contributes to the Cause: Obviously when you have seven double-figure scorers, as the Crusaders did against PNC, a number of bench players are adding to the scoreboard, and that was the case on Thursday. Senior Michael Rogers, sophomore Matt Kenney and freshman Jay Harris scored 12, 11 and 11 points, respectively, in the win over the Panthers while combining to connect on 14-of-18 (.778) shots from the floor. The trio each handed out three assists as well.
Crusaders Ink Edwards to NLI: Valparaiso men’s basketball head coach Homer Drew announced Nov. 13 that Richie Edwards of Hillsborough [Fla.] C.C. has signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period and will join the Crusader program for the 2011-2012 campaign. Edwards, who will have two seasons of eligibility left when he joins the Crusaders, was a First Team All-Conference selection for the Hawks as a freshman, averaging better than 16 points and seven rebounds per game. A product of Lakeland H.S., he was named the Lakeland Ledger Player of the Year as a high school senior, leading his squad to the regional finals while posting 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest.
Quickly: Sophomore Nick Shelton scored his first point of the year on a free throw against PNC ... every Crusader who has appeared in at least one game this year has now scored ... Johnson missed the PNC game due to injury ... Valpo announced on Thursday that Tommy Kurth would be sitting out the season in anticipation of applying for a Medical Hardship Waiver at the year’s conclusion due to injury.