Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Valparaiso Crusaders begin their 2003-2004 season at the Women's Sports Foundation Classic. The Crusaders are coming off of their first NCAA Tournament appearance last year, when the Crusaders travelled to Purdue for a first round contest. Valpo fell 66-51 to the Boilermakers. The Brown and Gold will face Oregon in the opening round before battling either LSU or Villanova on day two.

WHAT: Women's Sports Foundation Classic

WHEN: Saturday-Sunday, November 15-16, 2003

WHERE: McArthur Court (9,087), Eugene, Ore.

FIRST ROUND: Valpo at Oregon (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10), Nov. 15, 8:30 p.m. CST. #10/9 LSU (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Villanova (0-0, 0-0 BIG EAST), Nov. 15, 6 p.m. CST.

CHAMPIONSHIP: Winners meet for the Championship on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. CST. The losers will play in the consolation game on Nov. 16 at 2:30 p.m. CST.

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

TV: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 16th season of coaching, and 10th with the Crusaders. He is 284-153 overall, and 155-106 at Valpo. Oregon is led by Bev Smith, who is 34-29 in her second season overall and with the Ducks. LSU is led by Sue Gunter who is 681-300 in her 40th season overall and 415-213 in her 22nd season with the Lady Tigers. Villanova is led by Harry Perretta who is 465-262 in her 26th season overall and with the Wildcats.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be Valpo's first meeting ever with Oregon. The Crusaders have never played LSU or Villanova either.

EXPERIMENTAL RULES IN EFFECT: A pair of experimental rules will be in effect for all games of the Women's Sports Foundation Classic. The three-point line will be moved to 20 feet 6.25 inches, back from 19 feet, 9 inches. In addition, the 12-foot rectangular key will be widened in a trapezoid shape to 19 feet, 8.75 inches at the baseline. The NCAA will adopt both changes for the 2004-2005 season in both men's and women's basketball.

VALPO IN OPENERS: Valparaiso is 9-20 in season openers dating back to the 1974-1975 season when individual game results are available. The Crusaders have dropped their last three season openers, including a 77-54 defeat against Miami (Ohio) last season in the Spartan Chevrolet Classic.

BOONE AND HAMMEL EARN MID-CON PRESEASON HONORS: A pair of Crusaders were named to the Mid-Continent Conference Preseason Second Team. Junior Katie Boone, an Honorable Mention All-Conference selection and Tournament Most Valuable Player last year averaged 8.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per contest. Senior Suzie Hammel is Valpo's top returning scorer averaging 11.0 points per contest last year.

KING OF COACHES: Valparaiso head coach Keith Freeman will become the dean of Mid-Continent Conference women's basketball in the opener against Oregon. Freeman will begin coaching in his 10th season, the longest tenure of a head coach in conference history. He has already coached more games than any other in conference history, 261, and is eight wins shy of Ed Digregorio's mark of 163 victories with Youngstown State.

FRESHMAN PRODUCES IN EXHIBITION: Freshman guard Carrie Myers made a big splash onto the scene during Valpo's exhibition game against the Reebok Lady Stars. Coming off of the bench, Myers scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range in just 17 minutes of action.

HAMMEL AMONG ALL-TIME SCORING LEADERS: Suzie Hammel enters her senior season ranked 20th all-time in Valpo history in scoring. She has tallied 771 points during her first three years, and is just 15 points shy of moving up into 17th place.

BOMBS AWAY: Suzie Hammel and Kathryn Knoester are both among the top-ten three points shooters all-time at Valpo. Hammel has made 168 career treys, just three shy of second in the career record books. Knoester has made 106 threes, ranking eighth in school history.

MORE THREES: Entering today's game, Valpo has made at least one three-pointer in 120 consecutive contests. The last time the Crusaders failed to knock down a trey was Nov. 23, 1999 at Purdue.

HAMMEL ALSO ACCURATE FROM OUTSIDE: Suzie Hammel not only shoots threes, but does so with accuracy. The senior guard enters the season with a career 34.7% three-point shooting percentage, fifth best in school history.

DISHING THE ROCK: Three current Crusaders rank among the top-12 in school history in assists. Katie Boone is eighth all-time with 235 assists, doing so in just two years. She needs just three more to move into seventh place. Suzie Hammel is 11th on the career charts with 217 assists, while fellow senior Kathryn Knoester is just two helpers shy of Hammel in 12th place.

OREGON NOTES: Oregon enters the 2003-2004 season looking to rebound from its first losing season since 1992-1993. The Ducks finished the year 12-16 overall and 8-10 in the Pacific-10 Conference, tying for fifth place.

The Ducks have been a tough draw for opponents in openers, as they have gone 24-6 in school history in season-openers, and 28-2 in home openers all-time.

Senior Cathrine Kraayeveld is the team's leading returning scorer and rebounder. As a junior, she averaged 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, and was an Honorable Mention All Pac-10 performer. Carolyn Ganes also was an Honorable Mention All-Conference performer for the Ducks last season after averaging 10.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Oregon won both of its exhibition games during the preseason. They downed Strakonice 80-69 behind 20 points from Kraayeveld, while beating Western Oregon 87-29 after Ganes scored 22 points. Corrie Mizusawa dished out 15 and 11 assists respectively in each game.

The Ducks have been picked to finish fourth in the Pac-10 in the preseason coaches poll and sixth in the media poll.

LSU NOTES: LSU opens the 2003-2004 season ranked ninth in the country in the Associated Press poll and tenth in the coaches poll. The Lady Tigers are coming off of an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament after finishing the year 30-4 overall and 11-3 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU finished in second place in the SEC.

The Lady Tigers return Seimone Augustus, the 2002-2003 national Freshman of the Year. Augustus averaged 14.8 points along with 5.5 rebounds per game as a rookie. Two-time Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American Temeka Johnson also returns for LSU. As a junior last season she tallied 10.0 points and 5.9 assists per contest. Both players are candidates for the Naismith National Player of the Year award.

LSU posted pair of exhibition game victories. The Lady Tigers defeated NWBL Elite 113-46 behind 21 points from Augustus. In their 91-57 victory over Latvian Select, she again led the team with 20 points.

The Lady Tigers have been selected to finish in second place in the SEC annual preseason poll.

VILLANOVA NOTES: Villanova begins the 2003-2004 season fresh off the heels of an NCAA Elite Eight appearance last season. The Wildcats finished the year with a 28-6 record overall and a 12-4 mark in the BIG EAST. Villanova tied for third in the conference during the regular season.

The Wildcats graduated their top two scorers from last season, but return senior Courtney Mix for her final season. Last year Mix averaged 9.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. Mix is a preseason Second Team All-BIG EAST selection this season. Senior Kelly Nash is Villanova's second leading scorer among returnees. She tallied 3.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game last year.

Villanova won its lone exhibition game, 66-46, over the Turkish National Team. Liad Suez led the Wildcats with 11 points, while Mix added eight points and eight boards.

The Wildcats were picked to finish in seventh place in the BIG EAST this season in the preseason poll conducted of the league's head coaches.