Valparaiso (9-4, 2-0 Horizon)
Game #14: Tuesday, Dec. 28 - 7:05 p.m.
Ball State (6-3, 0-0 MAC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso takes to the court for the final time in the 2010 calendar year as the Crusaders host in-state foe Ball State on Tuesday evening. The game is the next-to-last non-league showdown for Valpo this season, as the heart of Horizon League play begins on New Year's Day.
Last Time Out: An epic battle between two former conference rivals saw Valparaiso take down Oakland last Tuesday night in Rochester, Mich. by a 103-102 count to capture the Lou Henson Award Tournament championship. Both Cory Johnson and Brandon Wood surpassed 30 points in the winning effort, as Johnson was named Tournament MVP and Wood named to the All-Tournament Team.
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), WEFM (95.9 FM, Michigan City) and WJOB (1230 AM, Hammond). Todd Ickow is back for his 19th season on play-by-play, while Adam Amin will handle the color commentary Tuesday. The live audio will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com, with live stats and live Horizon League Network video webcast 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 Monday's game with a 357-297 record in 21 seasons at the helm of the Crusader program and a 626-419 record in 32 years overall as a head coach.
Series Notes: Ball State holds a narrow 31-27 edge in the all-time series, a series which dates all the way back to the 1927-1928 campaign. The Cardinals claimed the victory in both squads' season opener last season, an 88-78 decision down in Muncie. Brandon Wood and Cory Johnson paced Valpo in their Crusader debuts with 25 and 21 points, respectively, while Jarrod Jones led six BSU players in double figures with 19 points.
The Road Ahead: Valpo begins the 2011 calendar year by opening the heart of Horizon League play at preseason favorite Butler on New Year's Day. The Crusaders then return to the ARC for their first home games of the league slate, hosting Youngstown St. and Cleveland St. on Jan. 7 and 9.
Scouting Ball State: The Cardinals enter Tuesday’s showdown at 6-3 on the year and on a three-game winning streak since losing at Alaska-Anchorage in their finale at the Great Alaska Shootout. Ball State is averaging nearly 70 points per game while allowing just 62 points per contest, led by 14.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game from Jarrod Jones.
103-102: Anytime a thriller concludes in regulation with both teams breaking the century marks, it's bound to generate a lot of notes. Following are some notes regarding Valpo's win over Oakland last Tuesday:
Flow of the Game - Valpo jumped out to a quick lead and led by seven (14-7) at the first media timeout
-The Crusaders led by as many as nine in the first half, as late as 24-15
-Oakland took over the lead just 4:41 after Valpo led by nine, and led by as much as eight in the first half (47-39) before going into the locker room up 52-45
-The Grizzlies scored a 3-point play on their first possession of the second half to go up by 10
-Valpo re-gained the lead just 3:58 later
-The Crusaders led by double digits for the first time at 87-76 with 5:59 to go and led by 12 three times, the latest coming with 1:09 to play
-Oakland went on a 15-4 run over the final 69 seconds to close to within the final margin
Team Scoring - Second game this year Valpo has broken 100 points (Nov. 12; IU Northwest; 111); only second season since 1996-1997 the Crusaders have scored 100+ twice in same year (2005-2006)
- First time scoring 100 against D-I opponent since Feb. 7, 2002 (Chicago State; 100)
- First time allowing 100 since Dec. 18, 2005 (at Duke; 104)
- First time both scoring and allowing 100 in regulation in same game since Jan. 15, 1996 (at Troy State; L 115-104)
- Also most combined points in same game since Jan. 15, 1996
- Valpo and Oakland combined for more points than all five NBA games which ended in regulation on the night of Dec. 22
- Second-most points ever allowed in Crusader regulation victory (March 1, 1969; Wheaton; W 121-104)
- First time this season in Division I that both teams have broken 100 in regulation; happened five times in 2009-2010 (M.R. March 9, 2010; at Seton Hall 109, Providence 106)
Other Team Notes - Valpo won the Lou Henson Award Tournament with the win over Oakland, earning their second trophy of the season (Upper Division Championship at Las Vegas Invitational)
- Crusaders won at the O'rena for the first time since Jan. 10, 2005; also extended their series lead over Oakland to 17-3
- Valpo shot at a 63.2% clip (36-of-57) from the floor in the win, its best shooting performance against a D-I team since Dec. 8, 2007 at Detroit (30-of-45; 66.7%)
- Crusaders tied a season-high with 10 made 3-pointers and hit 52.6% (10-of-19) from behind the arc, their best effort since Feb. 13, 2010 at Youngstown St. (10-of-18; 55.6%)
- Valpo out-rebounded the Grizzlies 28-27, including a 19-8 advantage in the final 20 minutes, despite entering the game being out-rebounded by its opponents and Oakland out-rebounding foes by seven boards/game
- Crusaders snapped Oakland's 16-game home winning streak
Individual Efforts - Redshirt junior Brandon Wood (35) and fifth-year senior Cory Johnson (33) both scored 30+ in the win over Oakland; last time done by a pair of Crusaders unknown
- First time this year in D-I that a pair of teammates have both scored 30+ points in the same game; happened just three times in regulation games last year (M.R. March 4, 2010; Houston Baptist; Andrew Gonzalez (31) and Wendell Preadom (30))
- Wood's effort was the second-highest scoring output of his career (39 at Georgia Southern; Nov. 27, 2009) and also had second-most FG makes (12) of his career (13 at Georgia Southern)
- Wood set new season highs for points and FG makes and matched season highs for 3-point makes (4), FT makes (7) and rebounds (7)
- Johnson set a new career high in the scoring column with his 33 points, breaking his previous high of 31 (at Detroit; Jan. 8, 2010)
- Johnson also matched his career-best with 12 FG makes (vs. Ark.-Fort Smith; Nov. 29, 2009)
- Johnson hit 12-of-13 from the floor, the best shooting performance (92.3%) by a Horizon League player this year
- Johnson's only FG miss came on his first attempt 52 seconds in, meaning he hit 12 FGs in a row over the final 39:08 of the ballgame
- Johnson's only FT miss came on his second try 4:32 in as he hit his final six attempts from the line
- Wood and Johnson now own the top two scoring performances in the Horizon League this season
- Valpo had just 16 30+ individual scoring efforts in the last 16 years prior to the Oakland game
- Wood (3x) and Johnson (2x) are two of just four Crusaders to have multiple 30+ point games over that span, joining Bryce Drew (5x) and Dan Oppland (2x)
There Was Defense Too?: Talking about defense in a 103-102 game might seem counter-intuitive, but the Crusaders completely shut down last year's Mid-Major Player of the Year and Naismith Award nominee Keith Benson in the win over Oakland. Valpo held Benson to just 1-of-2 shooting, five points, one rebound and no blocked shots. The five points was his fewest since Nov. 29, 2009 and his one rebound his fewest since Nov. 23, 2008. Also, Benson's streak of 26 games with a blocked shot was also snapped.
The First Game: While it might have been overshadowed by the Oakland win, Valpo posted a solid win the day before over Eastern Michigan to advance to the tournament title game. The Crusaders shot 51% from the floor and led from start to finish in the winning effort, led by a then-season best 21 points from Wood.
Dominating Defensively: While defense has keyed most of the Crusaders' victories this season, Dec. 11's win over IPFW was easily the most dominant performance on the defensive end of the court by Valpo this year. The Crusaders held the Mastodons to just 13 field goals on 26% shooting and limited IPFW to just 47 points overall. In addition, Valpo held IPFW to just three 3-pointers on the evening.
Limiting the Help: Perhaps the most impressive stat defensively out of the IPFW game was the fact that Valpo gave up just three assisted baskets to the Mastodons. IPFW did not register its first until 1:43 into the second half, picked up its second assist with 5:30 to play and tallied its last with just 1:11 remaining. The three assists surrendered by the Crusaders matched the lowest total by a Valpo opponent since Mount Saint Mary's tallied just three assists in a Valpo win on Dec. 30, 1999.
Really Late Rally: Valparaiso trailed by five points with 48 seconds to play in regulation Dec. 11 at Toledo, but Brandon Wood helped force overtime with a 3-pointer, steal and fast-break basket in a 16-second stretch to tie the game. It was the first time the Crusaders have overcome a two-possession deficit in the final minute of play since Feb. 1, 2007 against Oral Roberts, when Valpo trailed by six with 41 seconds to play and forced overtime.
Crusaders Match Attendance Record: Welcoming a top-20 team in Purdue to the ARC proved to be a formula for a packed house on Dec. 7. The game officially sold out four days in advance, and Tuesday night’s attendance was announced at 5,432, matching the all-time attendance record at the ARC, first set on Feb. 5, 2008 when Valpo hosted a top-10 Butler squad.
Breaking Out the New Gear: The Crusaders unveiled their new uniform design Dec. 7 against Purdue, and also debuted gray uniforms in the nationally-televised contest. The grays will serve as alternate uniforms, mainly for use on special occasions, while Valpo will continue to wear white jerseys at home and gold uniforms on the road.
Early Start Beneficial This Year: All four years the Crusaders have been in the Horizon League, they have played an early December league weekend. This year’s road sweep at UIC and Loyola was the second time in four years Valpo has started 2-0 on the road in early play, joining the 2007-2008 squad, which won at Wright State and Detroit to start the league slate.
Defense Winning Games: It’s a simple concept, but the Crusader defense this season has led the way in most of the Valpo victories. The Crusaders are a perfect 8-0 this year when surrendering fewer than 70 points. In addition, Valpo won three straight games over Texas A&M-CC, UIC and Loyola despite not scoring 70 points in any of the three contests, the first time in nearly four years it has accomplished that feat.
A Big Victory: Valpo easily handled Purdue North Central Nov. 18, 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.
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.
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.
Johnson Earns MVP Honors: Fifth-year senior forward Cory Johnson was named the MVP of the Lou Henson Award Tournament following his career-best 33-point performance on 12-of-13 shooting in the title game against Oakland. Johnson, who also chipped in six rebounds against the Grizzlies, added 12 points and five rebounds in the first game against Eastern Michigan. He is now averaging 15.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on the year, both second on the Crusaders and the former ranking eighth in the league.
Wood Lights It Up: Redshirt junior guard Brandon Wood set a new season high with 21 points, going 7-of-11 from the floor, to go along with four rebounds, five assists and three steals in the tournament opener against Eastern Michigan. But that was just a precursor to his performance against Oakland, where he went for 35 points on 12-of-20 shooting and also posted a season-best seven rebounds. Wood, an All-Tournament selection, is now leading the team with 16.2 ppg and 4.1 apg, the former ranking fifth in the Horizon League.
Rogers Steps Up: Senior forward Michael Rogers had perhaps his best game of the season in the win over Oakland in the tournament championship. Rogers played 22 minutes off the bench and hit all three of his shots from the field en route to 10 points, while also pulling down five rebounds and tying his season-high with three assists without committing a turnover.
Doing the Little Things: Senior guard Howard Little had a typical quiet game in the first-round win over EMU last Monday, going 5-of-7 from the field en route to 13 points, a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and three steals. Little, who ranks second in the HL in field goal percentage (.600), leads the Crusaders in rebounding (5.1 rpg), averages 9.9 ppg and has a team-best 21 steals 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 guard Ryan Broekhoff needed just five official FG attempts to finish with 13 points against Eastern Michigan, his eighth double-digit effort of the year ... Valpo outscored the Eagles in the paint, 44-16 ... the Crusaders also outscored the Grizzlies in the paint, 42-32 ... Valpo forced more turnovers than it committed in both tournament games as well ... the Crusaders' normal nine-man rotation all played double-figure minutes in both tournament games ... Valpo’s online interactive recruiting guide is now available by visiting http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/ec5fd42f.