Valparaiso (2-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #4-6: Valparaiso Subregional - 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer
Friday, Nov. 18 - Akron - 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19 - IU Kokomo - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 20 - Duquesne - 3:30 p.m.
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: For the first time in the history of the Athletics-Recreation Center, Valparaiso will host part of an in-season tournament on its home court, as the Crusaders welcome Akron, Duquesne, IU Kokomo and the University of the District of Columbia to the ARC for the Valparaiso Subregional of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer this weekend.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso led start to finish Monday evening at the ARC, allowing its fewest points defensively in over 27 years in an 88-38 victory over Holy Cross [Ind.] College. Richie Edwards led the way off the bench with 25 points, while Kevin Van Wijk posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds in just 14 minutes.
Following the Crusaders: Every game this season will be available on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with this weekend's games broadcast live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso) and WEFM (95.9 FM, Michigan City). Todd Ickow is back for his 20th season on play-by-play, while Brian Jennings (Fri./Sat.) and Keaton Gillogly (Sun.) will join him on color commentary. All of Valpo’s games this weekend will also be video streamed live on the Horizon League Network. Links to the live video and audio will be available at www.valpoathletics.com, with live stats available through the official Crusader website as well for all six contests of the subregional.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew made his head coaching debut at Arizona on Nov. 7, as he was named the 21st head coach in the history of the Valparaiso men’s basketball program on May 17, 2011. Just the fourth new head coach to grace the Crusader sidelines in the last 31 years, Drew had spent the last six seasons as a member of the Crusader coaching staff before earning the head position. He famously hit the game-winning shot against Ole Miss for Valpo in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament to cap an illustrious Crusader career, before going on to a seven-year professional career, six of which were spent in the NBA.
Series Notes: Akron holds a 5-1 advantage in the series with Valpo, including a 2-1 lead in Valpo. But the Crusaders earned the victory in their last home meeting with Akron, defeating the Zips 74-66 on Feb. 21, 2009 at the ARC. The series with Duquesne dates back nearly 70 years, but the two teams have met just twice, with the Dukes earning victories in both matchups. IU Kokomo is a first-year program that Valpo has never met on the hardwood.
The Road Ahead: Valpo begins a three-game road trip at national power Ohio State next Friday, Nov. 25. The Crusaders then have an eight-game break before a Horizon League contest at Butler on Dec. 3.
Looking at the Field: Akron - The Zips enter this weekend’s tournament action at 2-0 on the season, defeating Mississippi State on the road, 68-58, and also earning a home win over Hiram. Akron advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year after a run to the MAC Tournament title that featured a pair of overtime wins.
Duquesne - The Dukes also dropped their season opener at Arizona, 67-59, but rebounded last time out with an 84-66 home win over Green Bay. Duquesne also went to the postseason in 2010-2011, advancing to the second round of the CBI.
UDC - The Firebirds are out to a 2-0 start this year, defeating Alderson-Broaddus on Nov. 12 by an 83-72 score and getting a basket with nine seconds left to beat Elizabeth City State 65-63 on Nov. 15. UDC finished last season with an 11-15 record.
IU Kokomo - A first-year program, the Cougars opened play with an 82-76 victory over IU Northwest. IU Kokomo is currently 1-3 on the season, with one more game on the docket before facing the Crusaders on Saturday.
The Other Games: Valpo will be participating in three of the six games of the subregional and hosting three other neutral-site games. Friday, Duquesne and UDC open action at 5 p.m., while the Dukes then face Akron on Saturday at 5 p.m. The subregional will close Sunday evening at 6 p.m. with UDC against IU Kokomo.
Raising Money for Cancer Research: Head coach Bryce Drew will again sport the light blue jacket (which he wore in his debut) for the Crusaders’ game against Akron, as light blue is the prostate cancer awareness color. The entire coaching staff will also be wearing light blue as well, while the players will all be wearing light blue shooting shirts during warmups. There will also be light blue t-shirts available for fans in exchange for a donation on Friday night, while students who pledge to “Stay a Day” and push back the start of their Thanksgiving break by one day will receive light blue wristbands. Drew and the entire coaching staff will also all be sporting yellow later in the weekend, in support of mother Janet Drew’s battle with bladder cancer. All money raised over the course of the weekend will be donated to cancer research in Homer and Janet’s names.
Valpo Tabbed Fifth in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso was picked to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members. The Crusaders tallied 255 points in the polling. Preseason league favorite Butler received 28 of the 50 first-place votes, while Detroit was picked second and received 19 first-place votes. Cleveland State (2 first-place votes) and Milwaukee (1 first-place vote) were chosen third and fourth ahead of the Crusaders, while Green Bay was just behind Valpo in sixth position. Youngstown State, Wright State, Loyola and UIC rounded out the polling in order.
A Look Back at 2010-2011: Valparaiso is coming off of its tenth postseason appearance in the last 16 seasons, having earned a berth into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) last season. The Crusaders won 23 total games in 2010-2011, their greatest number of victories since the 2001-2002 season. Valpo also went 12-6 in Horizon League, posting its best record in league play since entering the HL and finishing just one game out of a share of the regular season title.
A Lot to Replace: The Crusaders have a lot of production to replace entering the 2011-2012 season, as they lost 60.5% of their scoring from last year’s squad, as well as more than 40% of their rebounding, assists and steals from a season ago. Cory Johnson (Second Team All-HL in 2009-2010; 14.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Howard Little (Valpo’s all-time leader in games played and eighth all-time in steals; 9.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG) and Michael Rogers (5.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG) all were graduating seniors on last year’s team, while Brandon Wood (Two-time All-HL honoree, First Team honoree in 2010-2011; 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG) graduated following his junior season of eligibility and transferred to Michigan State.
What They Have Back: Even with the losses, Valpo still has eight letterwinners returning from a season ago, including a pair of starters in junior Ryan Broekhoff (10.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 44.8% 3PT) and redshirt junior Erik Buggs (3.1 APG). Junior Matt Kenney (6.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG) averaged over 23 minutes a game off the bench last year, while sophomore Jay Harris (5.1 PPG) and junior Kevin Van Wijk (5.1 PPG) each played at least 13 minutes a contest as well. In addition, Tommy Kurth returns after sitting out last season as a medical redshirt.
Home Court Advantage: With 15 regular season home games slated for the ARC this year, Valparaiso has plenty of opportunities to utilize its home court advantage. After the win over Holy Cross, the Crusaders own a 247-110 (.692) all-time record at the ARC, including a 194-45 (.812) mark over the last 18-plus years at home. The Crusaders have also finished above .500 on their home court in each of the last 18 years.
Lots of Travel, Then Little Travel: The Crusaders racked up the travel miles over the season’s first week, as the flight from Chicago to Tucson for the game against Arizona was 1,430 miles one way, while the flight from Chicago to Atlanta was 591 miles one way, with a 207-mile bus ride to Statesboro following the flight as well. But then, of Valpo’s next nine games starting with Monday’s win over Holy Cross, six of those games will be played at the ARC. Then, of the three road games, only a contest at Ohio State on Nov. 25 will force Valpo to venture outside the Indiana borders.
High-Scoring Coaching Staff: Valparaiso boasts the third-highest scoring coaching staff in Division I basketball, as judged by points scored by the core four coaches at the Division I level. Head coach Bryce Drew scored 2,142 points at Valpo, while assistant coach Jake Diebler scored 826 points as a Crusader. Assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. added 1,178 points during his time at Illinois. Valpo’s total of 4,146 Division I points trails just Tennessee and Auburn.
A Lonely Banner: Each year’s senior class has banners hung inside the ARC during their senior season, but this season, there is just one men’s basketball banner hanging from the rafters. Walk-on guard Nick Shelton is the lone member of this year’s senior class.
Calling All Captains: With no scholarship seniors on this year’s squad, Valpo looks to a trio of juniors to lead the way as the captains for the 2011-2012 team. Ryan Broekhoff, Erik Buggs and Matt Kenney will share the captaincy this season.
Not Many Freshmen Either: The scales are even in terms of seniors and freshmen on this year’s Crusader squad. While Valpo has five newcomers joining the program this year, just one of them, Jamaican Vashil Fernandez, is in his first season of collegiate eligibility.
A Short Bench...: Valpo enters the regular season with just nine scholarship players available to step on the court. Bobby Capobianco must sit out the entire season after transferring to Valpo from Indiana, while Ben Boggs has to sit out at least the first semester after arriving at Valpo at the semester break last year from Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Vashil Fernandez remains unavailable pending a ruling from the NCAA on his status.
Getting Defensive: Valpo surrendered just 38 points to Holy Cross on Monday evening, holding the Saints to just 23.3% shooting from the floor. The 38 points allowed was the least by a Crusader squad since Valpo pulled out a 35-33 nailbiter against Green Bay on Jan. 21, 1984.
Broekhoff Leads the Way: Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League selection Ryan Broekhoff leads the Crusaders in the early going this year, averaging 15.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. The junior proved his recognition was deserved right off the bat, posting 18 points and nine rebounds at #16/16 Arizona before registering 22 points and 13 rebounds in the win over Georgia Southern. Broekhoff made 13-of-16 from the foul line against the Eagles, easily setting a new career high for free throw makes.
Edwards Pours In the Points: Junior Richie Edwards led New Zealand in scoring at the World University Games this past summer, and is starting to show that scoring punch at Valpo. Edwards came up one board shy of a double-double at Georgia Southern, registering 12 points and nine rebounds. Then last time out, Edwards came off the bench for a Valpo season-best 25 points in the win over Holy Cross. Edwards went 8-of-12 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from downtown, and also was 7-of-9 at the charity stripe in the victory.
Van Wijk Battles Down Low: Junior Kevin Van Wijk has made his presence felt in the starting lineup in the post over Valpo’s first three games. Nov. 7 against #16/16 Arizona, the Netherlands native more than held his own, ending the game tied for game-high honors with a career-best 18 points. Van Wijk set a new career high with eight free throw makes and also pulled down seven rebounds. Most recently, he needed just 14 minutes for a career-high tying 18 points and a career-best 10 rebounds in the win over Holy Cross, his first career double-double.
This and That: Junior Matt Kenney has made 10 consecutive field goal attempts dating back to the second half of the Arizona game ... redshirt sophomore Hrvoje Vucic (19) and senior Nick Shelton (13) both set career highs for minutes played against Holy Cross ... Vucic pulled down a career-best six rebounds versus the Saints, while Shelton hit his second and third career field goals for a career-high four points.