Valpo Begins Stretch of Nationally-Ranked Foes Heading to Pitt Tuesday
Monday, December 7, 2009
Valpo Begins Stretch of Nationally-Ranked Foes Heading to Pitt Tuesday
Laura Richards leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. (Ray Acevedo)

Game #7: Dec. 8, 2009, 6 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (3-3, 0-0 Horizon)
at #19/20 Pittsburgh (7-0, 0-0 Big East)
Petersen Events Center  (12,508) - Pittsburgh, Pa.

Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso begins the first of three straight games against teams from the Big East Conference on Tuesday evening as the Crusaders head to Pennsylvania to battle #19/20 Pittsburgh.  The Crusaders are looking to snap a three-game losing skid while taking on the unbeaten Panthers.

On the Air: Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at David Schroeder and Keaton Gillogly will call all the action live from the Petersen Events Center.  Live stats will be available through as well.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and Pittsburgh are meeting on the hardwood for the first time ever in women’s hoops.

Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 16th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 263-184 record at the helm of the Brown and Gold.  In his 22nd season overall, Freeman has a 392-231 career mark.

Wrapping Up Central Michigan: Betsy Adams hit a three-pointer with five seconds remaining to tie the game, but Kendra Holman connected on a pair of free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining as the Chippewas handed Valpo a 70-68 setback Saturday afternoon at the ARC.  Central Michigan rallied from a pair of 11-point deficits, including one in the second half, for the win.  Lauren Kenney led Valpo with 21 points and 12 boards while Adams had 16 points.

Scouting Pittsburgh: The Panthers are a perfect 7-0 on the season following an 89-65 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon.  Pittsburgh is averaging 76.9 points per game as a team, outscoring the opposition by 22.8 points per contest.  Taneisha Harrison leads the team scoring 14.6 points per game while Jania Sims adds 13.9 points per night.  Shayla Scott is also averaging double figures at 11.4 points per contest for Pittsburgh which is shooting 49.3% as a team from the floor.

A Familiar Face on the Pitt Sidelines: Former Crusader assistant coach Caroline McCombs is now an assistant coach at Pittsburgh.  McCombs spent six years on Valpo’s staff with coach Keith Freeman from 1999-2005 as the recruiting coordinator and also as an associate head coach.  She has been at Pittsburgh since 2005.

Joining a New Conference?:
Beginning with Pittsburgh, the Crusaders will face three straight opponents from the Big East Conference before Christmas.  Valpo heads to Notre Dame this Saturday before traveling to Cincinnati on December 19.  The Crusaders are looking for their first win ever against a Big East foe in 48 games against the current members.

Taking on Ranked Foes: The Crusaders will be facing a pair of ranked opponents this week as Notre Dame is currently ranked in the top-10 in the country as well.  Valpo is 1-22 all-time against ranked opponents, finally breaking through last year with a 71-60 victory over #21/23 Purdue on December 10, 2008.  The Crusaders have faced at least one ranked opponent every year but one (2006-2007) since the 1996-1997 season.

Ho Hum, Another Day in Double Figures:
Betsy Adams and Lauren Kenney have tallied double figures in scoring in all six games for the Crusaders this year.  Adams is averaging 17.0 points per contest on the year, second in the conference in scoring.  Kenney is adding 16.7 points per night for the Brown and Gold, third best in the league.  Each has tallied a season-high 21 points this year.  Kenney’s string of double figure contests has stretched to 11 straight overall dating back to last season. 

Double-Doubles With Regularity: After posting three double-doubles as a junior last season, Lauren Kenney has already equalled that total in the first six games of this season.  The senior forward tallied 21 points and 12 rebounds Saturday against Central Michigan and also has double-doubles against SIU Edwardsville and Colorado State this season.

More Kenney: Lauren Kenney had one of her best games of the season Saturday against Central Michigan.  Her 21 points matched a season-high, and she shot 8-of-10 from the floor, making her first seven from the field.  The senior also tied her career-high with four assists while grabbing the 12 boards, including five on the offensive end of the floor.

Watts Breaks Out:
After having to sit out last season per NCAA transfer rules, Kelly Watts finally showed what she is capable of doing for the Crusaders last Saturday in her sixth game in a Brown and Gold uniform.  Watts scored a season-high 10 points, including a pair of triples, while grabbing five rebounds in 23 minutes of action.  She is now averaging 5.7 points and 4.2 boards per game on the year.

Tops Among Assist/Turnover Ratio: Valpo’s two freshmen point guards rank one-two in the Horizon League in assist-to-turnover ratio.  Laura Richards leads the conference at 2.0 after dishing out 14 helpers while committing just seven miscues through the first six games.  Skyler Gick has added 21 assists while turning the ball over just 12 times for a 1.8 assist-to-turnover mark.

Getting to the Glass: Lauren Kenney and Ashley Varner each are crashing the boards hard this year, ranking in the top six in the league in rebounding.  Kenney is grabbing 8.8 caroms per contest, including 4.2 on the offensive end, while Varner is pulling down 7.8 boards per game, with 5.5 of those coming on the defensive end of the floor.  As a team Valpo is +3.7 in rebounding margin after finishing last year -1.6.

Aggression Leads to Freebies: The Crusaders are driving to the basket more this season which is helping them draw fouls from the opposition.  Valpo is averaging 21.8 free throws per contest, shooting 75.6% at the line.

Adams Makes Them Pay for Fouling: Betsy Adams is 29-for-32 (90.6%) from the free throw line this year, including a 10-of-10 effort against Colorado State.  Her performance against the Rams marked the fourth most makes without a miss ever at Valpo.  Ironically, Adams went  just 6-of-10 at the line last year as a freshman.

Kenney Named Horizon League Player of the Week: Lauren Kenney was named the Horizon League’s Player of the Week on November 23 after leading Valpo to wins over SIU Edwardsville and Colorado State.  The senior forward averaged 20.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game while registering double-doubles in both contests for the Crusaders.

Kenney Earns Preseason Honors: Lauren Kenney was named to the Horizon League’s Preseason Second Team in the voting by the league’s head coaches, media, and sports information directors.  The senior forward averaged 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for Valpo as a junior.

Valpo Tabbed Sixth in Horizon League: The Crusaders were picked to finish in sixth place this season in the Horizon League according to the conference’s preseason poll.  Last year the Crusaders finished 16-14 overall and 10-8 during the league campaign, finishing fourth.  Green Bay was selected to win the Horizon League title for the 12th consecutive season.

Home Sweet Home: Valpo has had consistent success at the ARC over the past nine years, including three straight wins to start this year before falling to Central Michigan.  Last season the Crusaders were 9-5 at home and since the beginning of the 2001-2002 campaign, Valpo has posted a 83-26 (.761) record at the ARC.

Freeman Among Winningest Active Coaches: Keith Freeman entered the 2009-2010 season ranked 42nd among all active Division I coaches for career victories.  He has guided the Crusaders to more than 50% of the program’s victories all-time at Valpo.

Valpo Adds Four for Next Year’s Class:
Head coach Keith Freeman has signed four players to National Letters of Intent for next year.  Joining the Crusaders for the 2010-2011 season are: Maegan Callaway, a 6’0” center from Mooresville High School in Mooresville, Ind.;  Tabitha Gerardot, a 6’0” forward from  Canterbury High School in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Liz Horton, a 6’1” forward from Barr-Reeve High School in Cannelburg, Ind.; and Stefanie Lang, a 6’4” center from Valparaiso High School in Valparaiso, Ind.