#15 VALPARAISO (20-11, 11-5 Mid-Con) vs #2 KANSAS STATE (24-5, 14-2 Big 12)
WHAT: NCAA Mideast Region First Round.
WHEN: Sunday, March 21, 2004, 11 a.m. CST.
WHERE: Williams Arena (14,625), Minneapolis, Minn.
RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM), Valparaiso, Ind. Ed Schillinger will handle the play-by-play with Steve Rhodes providing the color commentary. The game will also be broadcast on the web at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
TV: ESPN2. Beth Mowins will handle the play-by-play with Dan Hughes providing color commentary.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 16th season of coaching, and 10th with the Crusaders. He is 304-164 overall and 175-117 at Valpo. Kansas State is led by Deb Patterson, who is 150-94 in her 8th season overall and with the Wildcats.
SERIES RECORD: This will be the first meeting ever between Valparaiso and Kansas State. Valpo has only played one Big 12 team in school history, falling 81-46 at Texas Tech on Nov. 27, 2002.
VALPO'S POSTSEASON RECORD: Valpo is 0-1 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, falling at Purdue 66-51 in 2003. The Crusaders are 2-1 in the WNIT, having advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002.
For the second time in as many years the Valparaiso Crusaders are headed to the NCAA Tournament. This year, the 15th seeded Crusaders will battle Kansas State, the Mideast Region's second seed. The contest will be Valpo's first-ever neutral site postseason contest. The Brown and Gold has won nine of its last ten games overall after defeating Oral Roberts 64-63 in the Mid-Con championship.
THREE STRAIGHT SEASONS IN TOP TWO: Valparaiso finished tied for second place in the Mid-Continent Conference for the second straight season, marking the third straight top-two finish for the Brown and Gold. Valpo won the regular season title in 2001-2002.
VALPO EARNS 4th 20-WIN CAMPAIGN: The victory in the Mid-Continent Conference championship game gave Valpo its fourth 20-win season in school history. This is also the Crusaders' 13th winning season in the last 14 years. The only time the Crusaders have not finished over .500 during that span was in 2000-2001. The 20 wins tie for the third most in a season in school history.
GUTOWSKI SAVES THE DAY: Jamie Gutowski kept the Crusaders season alive following her runner with 1.4 seconds remaining against IUPUI in the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament quarterfinals, giving Valpo the 53-52 win.
REPEAT A RARITY IN MID-CON: With Valpo's victory in the Mid-Con title game, the Crusaders became the first school in Mid-Continent Conference Tournament history to win back-to-back titles. Northern Illinois (1993 and 1994) was the only other team to earn two straight NCAA Tournament bids.
LOOKING TO GO WHERE NO TEAM HAS GONE BEFORE: Valpo looks to become the first #15 seed to win a women's tournament game since the championship went to a field of 64 in 1994. This is the sixth time a Mid-Con team has been a #15 seed, including the Crusaders appearance last season.
HAMMEL BECOMES TENTH CRUSADER TO REACH 1,000: Suzie Hammel became the tenth Crusader in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau on February 2 at Western Illinois. She currently has tallied 1,071 points, ranking ninth on Valpo's all-time scoring list.
HAMMEL AND KNOESTER DRAIN TRIPLES: Suzie Hammel and Kathryn Knoester are both among the top-ten three point shooters all-time at Valpo. Hammel has made 234 career treys, and moved into second place in the career record books. Hammel is 30 shy of Lynda Kukla's total of 264 made from 1988-1992. Knoester has made 131 threes, sixth most in school history.
HAMMEL AMONG MID-CON'S BEST: Suzie Hammel has also moved into second place on the Mid-Continent Conference's career three-point chart. Her 234 triples trail just Brenda Doty's 262 triples for Buffalo from 1994-1997. Hammel's 668 career three-point attempts are the most all-time in league history.
TREY STREAK SNAPPED: Valpo failed to connect from three-point range on Nov. 21 at Notre Dame, ending the Crusaders streak at 122 straight games with at least one triple. Valparaiso's last game prior to Notre Dame without a three occurred at Purdue on November 23, 1999.
BOONE SHINES AT WSF CLASSIC: Katie Boone earned All-Tournament Team honors at the Women's Sports Foundation Classic after averaging 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game for the Crusaders. She shot 53.3% (8-of-15) from the floor, including a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range. She scored 14 points against Oregon and added 12 against Villanova, both team highs.
BOONE ALSO NAMED MID-CON PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior Guard Katie Boone not only was named to the WSF All-Tournament Team, but also was honored by the league office as the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week on November 19 for her efforts in Oregon.
HAMMEL EARNS MID-CON HONORS: Suzie Hammel was named the Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Week on December 16 after averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting 66.7% (10-of-15) from three-point range in a pair of games that week. She scored 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc at IPFW and added 18 points with five treys against Loyola (Ill.).
KING OF COACHES: Valpo head coach Keith Freeman passed Ed DiGregorio (Youngstown State, 1992-2001) to become the all-time winningest coach in Mid-Continent Conference history when the Crusaders defeated IUPUI on January 19. Freeman now has 175 wins at Valpo, and also holds the conference record for games coached (292) and conference games coached (158). Freeman also has past DiGregorio for all-time conference victories with 103.
FREEMAN WINS 300: Valpo head coach Keith Freeman recorded the 300th victory of his career on February 28 against IPFW. In his 16th season of coaching, Freeman has posted a 304-164 record overall. Of that win total, 175 have come at Valpo, 85 at St. Joseph's (Ind.), and 44 at Huntington, Freeman's first school.
NO SET LINE-UP: Due to the numerous injuries and illnesses the Crusaders have suffered this season, not one player has started all 31 games for the Brown and Gold. In fact, only Suzie Hammel has started 30 of the games, the only player with more than 28 starts on the year. There are only five players total that have seen action in all 31 contests.
NOW THAT'S DEFENSE: Valparaiso held Centenary to just eight first half points on February 7 in Shreveport, La. The Crusaders won the game 76-38.
BOONE FIFTH ALL-TIME IN ASSISTS: Three current Crusaders rank among the top-10 in school history in assists. Katie Boone is 4th all-time with 352 assists. She now has her sights set on Lisa Diefenthaler's total of 367. Suzie Hammel is 6th on the career charts with 275 assists, while fellow senior Kathryn Knoester is eighth with 256 helpers.
CRUSADERS AMONG ACADEMIC ELITE: Valparaiso ranked ninth in the nation among Division I schools for grade point average during the 2002-2003 school year in the poll that was recently released by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. The Crusaders tallied a 3.394 team GPA last year, earning a top-25 ranking for the fifth straight season. Valpo also was one of just two teams (Kansas State) to earn an NCAA Tournament berth and be ranked among the top-25.
BRAUN SETS SCHOOL RECORD AT OAKLAND: Tamra Braun set a new school mark for shooting on January 3 at Oakland, going a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor. The freshman scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, both career bests. Her shooting mark bettered Robyn Lippert's 8-for-9 night against Western Michigan on December 12, 1990.
THREE AMONG VALPO'S ALL-TIME BEST THIEVES: Kathryn Knoester has moved into sixth place all-time with 168 steals during her stay at Valpo. Suzie Hammel and Katie Boone are eighth and tenth in the same category with 165 and 149 career swipes respectively.
KNOESTER SETS GAMES PLAYED RECORD: With her appearance in the Mid-Con semifinal against UMKC, Kathryn Knoester surpassed Jeanette Gray for the most games ever-played in a Crusader uniform. She enters the NCAA Tournament having played 124 games for the Brown and Gold.
HAMMEL AMONG SINGLE-SEASON THREE-POINT SHOOTING: Suzie Hammel has moved into fourth place on Valpo's single season three-point list with 66 triples made this season. She finished with 65 as a sophomore (5th place), 52 as a junior (8th), and 51 as a freshman (tied for 9th), placing her in the top-ten every year of her career.
BRAUN MOVES ON TO BLOCKS CHART: Freshman Tamra Braun has moved into a tie for sixth place on Valpo's single season block chart. She currently has 31 rejections on the year, equalling Sarah Schmoyer's total for Valpo in 1993-1994.
VALPO RAINS THREES AS A TEAM: Valparaiso's current total of 185 three-point field goals are the third highest single-season total in school history. The Crusaders are just nine shy of second place and 39 shy of the school mark.
DEFENSE: Valpo's defense has allowed just 55.4 points per game during league play, and allowed just one opponent, UMKC, to reach 70 points in a game. In fact, just four conference foes reached the 60-point mark against the Crusaders.
HOME COURT DOMINANCE IN THE MID-CON: The Crusaders have been dominating at the ARC against Mid-Continent Conference foes since the beginning of the 2001-2002 season. Valpo has posted an 20-2 record in league play at home over that time period, not losing more than one Mid-Con game at home per season.
VALPO AMONG NATION'S BEST: The Crusaders currently rank 19th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game according to the NCAA rankings entering the NCAA Tournament. Valpo has turned the ball over just 14.3 times per game. The Crusaders have also committed the 27th fewest number of personal fouls of any team in the country (15.1/game). Individually, Suzie Hammel is 50th in the nation in three-point percentage (36.7%).
BOONE NAMED SECOND TEAM ALL MID-CON: Junior Katie Boone was named to the Mid-Continent Conference Second Team for her play this season. She averaged 6.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists for the Crusaders this season. Her assist total ranked third in the Mid-Con this season, and her 2.05 assist-to-turnover ratio is second best in the conference.
STANGLER EARNS HONORABLE MENTION HONORS: Jenna Stangler was an Honorable Mention All Mid-Continent Conference performer for the Brown and Gold this season. Valpo's leading scorer and rebounder, she averaged 10.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game this year. Her 2.38 offensive boards this year are ninth most in the Mid-Con.
RIETEMA GARNERS ALL-NEWCOMER TEAM HONORS: Valpo freshman Betsy Rietema was named to the Mid-Con All-Newcomer Team for her efforts this season. She led the Crusaders in scoring during Mid-Con play tallying 9.9 points per conference game. She started 12 of the 16 Mid-Con contests in the post after several injuries ford her to the Valpo frontline.
GUTOWSKI AND KNOESTER NAMED TO All-TOURNAMENT TEAM: Jamie Gutowski and Kathryn Knoester were each named to the Mid-Continent Conference All-Tournament Team for their roles in helping Valpo to the title. Gutowski averaged 10.3 points per game off of the bench, including the game-winning shot with 1.4 seconds remaining against IUPUI in the quarterfinals. Knoester tallied 9.7 points per contest, including 14 in the quarterfinals and nine in the title game against Oral Roberts.
KANSAS STATE NOTES: Kansas State earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after sharing the Big 12 regular season title with Texas. The Wildcats, the Mideast Region's second seed, fell 78-66 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 semifinals.
Kendra Wecker and Nicole Ohlde lead Kansas State in scoring on the season, averaging 17.2 and 17.0 points per game respectively. Wecker is also the team's leading rebounder, grabbing 8.1 boards per night, while Ohlde is shooting 57.4% from the floor.
Laurie Koehn adds 13.9 points per contest, and has made 95 three-point field goals on the season, shooting at a 43.2% clip. Megan Mahoney adds 8.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and a team-best 5.3 assists per game.
This marks the Wildcats eighth NCAA Tournament appearance. Kansas State's best finish in the tournament was a regional finals appearance in 1982.