Thursday, November 21, 2002

WHAT: First Round Pairings:
Valparaiso vs. Miami (Ohio)
Fresno State at Michigan State

WHEN: Saturday-Sunday, November 22-23, 2002
Valpo plays at 3 p.m. CST on Nov. 22
Valpo will play at 1 or 3 p.m. CST on Nov. 23

WHERE: Breslin Center (14,759), East Lansing, Mich.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. Mark Couser will handle the play-by-play, while Steve Rhodes will provide color commentary.

TV: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 15th season of coaching, and 9th with the Crusaders. He is 266-140 overall, and 137-93 at Valpo. Miami is led by Maria Fantanarosa, who is 71-69 overall in her 6th season and 64-49 in her 5th season with the Redhawks. Michigan State is led by Joanne McCallie who is 196-104 in her 11th season overall and 29-31 in her 3rd season with the Spartans. Fresno State is led by Stacy Johnson who is 23-57 in three seasons overall and 0-0 in her first season with the Bulldogs.

SERIES RECORD: Miami leads the overall series with the Crusaders 3-0. Valpo has never faced Michigan State or Fresno State.

LAST SEASON AGAINST MIAMI: Miami defeated the Crusaders in overtime for the second straight season, 77-74, on Nov. 28 at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The RedHawks trailed by 11 with 6:56 to play, but a Heather Cusick three-pointer at the buzzer sent the game into overtime. Jeanette Gray led the Brown and Gold with 23 points and five steals, while Amber Schober added 22 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Marlous Nieuwveen tallied 17 points and nine boards for the Crusaders in the loss. Cusick led Miami with 23 points and seven assists, while Beth Roedereradded 17 points and Melanie Kozlowski chipped in 15. Colleen Day recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Valparaiso Crusaders begin their 2002-2003 season at the Spartan Chevrolet Classic. The Crusaders are coming off of their first postseason appearance in school history when the Brown and Gold reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT last year.

Valpo faces Miami (Ohio) in the opening round of the tournament. The two schools have battled to a pair of overtime contests the last two seasons, with the RedHawks prevailing each year.

VALPO IN OPENERS: Valparaiso is 9-19 in season openers dating back to the 1974-1975 season. The Crusaders have dropped their last two openers, both to Notre Dame. Last year Valpo fell 42-35 to the Fighting Irish on the road.

CRUSADERS EARN MID-CON PRESEASON ACCOLADES: A pair of Crusaders were named to the Mid-Continent Conference Preseason Teams. Senior Jeanette Gray averaged 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game to help earn her a spot on the Preseason First Team. Sophomore Katie Boone, last year's Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year, was named to the Preseason Second Team after averaging 5.0 points and 4.8 assists per contest. She led the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio.

GRAY ON THE CHARTS: Valparaiso senior Jeanette Gray enters her final season already among the Crusaders top-ten all-time in several categories. Her 1,109 points rank seventh all-time, while her 537 rebounds tie her for ninth. Gray also ranks seventh with 446 field goals and seventh with 148 career steals.

STEPPING UP IN BIG GAMES: With just six returnees on the squad this season, the Crusaders will be setting, and re-setting, career highs starting with game one. Of the six returnees, two had their highest scoring outputsof their young Valpo career last year in the WNIT. Jenna Stangler tallied 18 points at Ball State in the WNIT Second Round, while Katie Boone tossed in a career best 14 in the opening round at Michigan.

Miami enters the 2002-2003 season after finishing with a 19-11 mark last year. The RedHawks finished in second place in the Mid-American Conference's East Division with an 11-5 mark and advanced to the MAC semifinals.

Heather Cusick, a First Team All-MAC selection, led the RedHawks last season, tallying 17.5 points and 4.4 assists per contest. Kim Lancaster and Colleen Day each return as well, providing an inside presence for Miami. Lancaster tallied 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds for the RedHawks, while Day tallied 11.0 points and 6.9 boards.

Miami won its only exhibition game of the season back on Nov. 14, downing the OGBM Legends 93-69. Five players tallied double-figures, led by Lancaster's 16 and Jana Butler's 15 points.

The RedHawks have been tabbed to finish in second place in the MAC East, while Cusick was named to the All-MAC Preseason East Division Team.

Fresno State looks to put its 9-20 2001-2002 mark behind them as the Bulldogs open the new season. The Bulldogs finished 4-14 in the Western Athletics Conference, finishing in ninth place.

Linday Logan led Fresno State last year, scoring 15.0 points and dishing out 3.9 assists per contest. The Second Team All-WAC performer returns for her senior season after leading the team with 54 steals one year ago. Omelogo Udeze is the team's second leading scorer and rebounder back from last year. She tallied 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The WAC's co-Freshman of the Year, Aritta Lane, also returns for the Bulldogs. She posted 9.3 points and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game last year.

FSU won its lone exhibition game 66-56 over UMB Banska Bystrica on Nov. 12. Udeze led the Bulldogs with 22 points.

The Bulldogs have been selected to finish seventh in the WAC this season, and Logan was named to the All-WAC Preseason Team.

Michigan State, like Valpo, went to the WNIT last season. The Spartans advanced to the semifinals before falling to Oregon. The Spartans finished the year 19-13 overall, 6-10 in the Big Ten for a tenth place finish.

Syreeta Bromfield is the Spartans leading returner from last season. The Second Team All-Big Ten performer averaged 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, both team highs. Julie Pagel, Michigan State's second leading scorer also returns after tallying 9.6 points and 5.8 boards last season.

The Spartans won both of their exhibition games this season. MSU downed Athletes in Action 83-72 on Nov. 3 behind 21 points from Bromfield. Michigan State then downed the Dominican Republic National Team 77-48 on Nov. 17 as Bromfield and Candice Jackson each scored 15 points.

Michigan State received six points in the most recent AP poll, ranking in a tie for 41st.