Wednesday, November 16, 2005
NORTHERN IOWA (0-0, 0-0 MVC) at VALPARAISO (0-0, 0-0 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Friday, November 18, 2005, 7:05 p.m. CST.

WHERE: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000), Valparaiso, Ind.

RADIO: WVUR (95.1-FM-Valparaiso) and on the internet at Brent Whitlock and Becky Malewitz will call all of the action.

TV: None.

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is led by Keith Freeman, who is in his 18th season of coaching, and 12th with the Crusaders. He is 322-175 overall and 193-128 at Valpo. Northern Iowa is led by Tony DiCecco, who is 147-137 in his 11th season overall and with the Panthers.

SERIES RECORD: The two schools have split two previous meetings 1-1. Both have won on the opponent's home court.

LAST MEETING: Northern Iowa posted an 82-72 victory over the Crusaders on December 12, 1992 at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

Valparaiso opens its 35th season of women's basketball on Friday evening as the Brown and Gold entertains Northern Iowa. The Crusaders are coming off of an 18-10 season in 2004-2005. Valpo finished 12-4 in the Mid-Continent Conference, tying for second place.

VALPO IN OPENERS: Valparaiso has struggled in season openers, going just 9-22 over the past 31 seasons. Results from the first three years of Crusader hoops are unknown. The Brown and Gold is looking to snap a five-game season-opening losing streak. Last year, Valpo fell 64-57 to Virginia Tech in the Subway Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. The Crusaders' last win in an opener came November 19, 1999 at Illinois-Chicago 61-47.

CRUSADERS PICKED THIRD IN THE MID-CON: Valparaiso was picked to finish in third place this season in the Mid-Continent Conference in the preseason poll of the league's head coaches, sports information directors, and selected media outlets. Western Illinois was picked to win the league title, followed by Oral Roberts and then the Crusaders.

BRAUN AND RIETEMA EARN PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Junior center Tamra Braun was named to the Mid-Con Preseason First Team and classmate Betsy Rietema earned Preseason Second Team accolades prior to the season starting. Braun averaged 10.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last year. Rietema finished the year with 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

BRAUN 11TH IN THE MID-CON IN BLOCKED SHOTS: Tamra Braun is currently in 11th place on the Mid-Con's career blocked shots list with 98 swats during her career. She needs just two more rejections to move into a tie with Missy Beck (Eastern Illinois, 1992-1996) for tenth all-time. Braun's 98 blocks are also tied for second most all-time at Valpo. She is tied with Debbie Bolen (1989-1993).

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Valpo has two teams on the schedule currently ranked in the top-25. Notre Dame is #16 and Purdue is #24.

NORTHERN IOWA NOTES: Northern Iowa enters the season opener with two victories during exhibition play. The Panthers were 99-42 victors over William Penn in their opener and then defeated Winona State 77-45.

The Panthers return 11 starters from last year's squad which finished 20-11 overall and 13-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference, tying for second. It was the best season in school history for the Panthers. UNI is picked to finish in fifth place this year.

UNI returns its leading scorer from last season, Cassie Hager. The 6'7" senior center averaged 13.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest, and has been named to the Preseason All-MVC Team. She shot 80.2% from the free throw line and 55.6% from the floor last year.

Northern Iowa also return starter Jessie Biggs. Biggs averaged 7.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists as a junior.

The Panthers allowed just 57.2 points per game defensively in 2004-2005.