Valpo Continues Road Swing Saturday at #3/4 Notre Dame
Friday, December 11, 2009
Valpo Continues Road Swing Saturday at #3/4 Notre Dame
Ashley Varner returns to her hometown of South Bend on Saturday. (Ray Acevedo)

Game #8: Dec. 12, 2009, 1 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (3-4, 0-0 Horizon)
at #3/4 Notre Dame (8-0, 0-0 Big East)
Purcell Pavillion  (9,149) - Notre Dame, Ind.

Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: For the second time in five days Valparaiso will take to the hardwood against a top-15 program on Saturday afternoon when the Brown and Gold visits #3/4 Notre Dame.  The Crusaders will be playing their second of three straight games against Big East foes as well as the second game of a five-game road trip to wrap up the 2009 calendar year.

On the Air: Saturday’s game against Notre Dame will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at David Schroeder and Neal Janssen will call all the action live from the Purcell Pavillion.  The game can be viewed live online through a link at featuring Notre Dame’s production of the contest.  Live stats will be available through as well.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and Notre Dame are meeting for the 23rd time with the Crusaders looking for their first win ever against the Fighting Irish.  Last year Valpo dropped a 63-55 decision to Notre Dame at the ARC.  The two schools have met every year since 1999, alternating sites.

Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 16th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 263-185 record at the helm of the Brown and Gold.  In his 22nd season overall, Freeman has a 392-232 career mark.

Wrapping Up Pittsburgh: The Panthers closed the first half on a 24-4 run Tuesday evening on the way to a 77-52 victory over the Crusaders in Pittsburgh, Pa.  The Panthers forced 22 Valpo turnovers and limited the Brown and Gold to just 27.5% shooting from the floor while outrebounding the Crusaders 46-37.  Betsy Adams led the Crusaders with 18 points, draining six triples, while Lauren Kenney added 12 points.  Taneisha Harrison led Pitt with 27 points while Chelsea Cole had 15 boards.

Scouting Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish remain a perfect 8-0 following a 96-60 triumph over IPFW on Tuesday evening.  Notre Dame is averaging 82.2 points per game this season while outrebounding opponents by nearly seven boards per contest.  Skylar Diggins leads four players averaging in double figures with 14.1 points per contest while Becca Bruszewski adds 11.9 points per night.  Lindsay Schraeder scores 11.6 points per game and leads the team with 7.3 rebounds while Ashley Barlow is adding 11.4 points per contest.

A Homecoming For Varner: Ashley Varner returns to her hometown of South Bend Saturday to face the Fighting Irish.  In her first trip to Notre Dame as a freshman she scored two points and had four rebounds.  Last year at home against the Fighting Irish, the Washington High School product scored seven points.

Joining a New Conference?: Playing Notre Dame, the Crusaders are facing the second of three straight opponents from the Big East Conference before Christmas.  Valpo lost to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and will travel to Cincinnati on December 19.  The Crusaders are looking for their first win ever against a Big East foe in 49 games against the current members.

Taking on Ranked Foes: The Crusaders will be facing their second ranked opponent this week in Notre Dame after playing Pitt.  Valpo is 1-23 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.

The Highest Ranking Ever: Notre Dame’s #3 ranking in the Associated Press poll matches the highest ranked opponent Valpo has ever faced.  The Fighting Irish were also third in the country on November 30, 2004 when Valpo fell 69-59 at the ARC.  This will be the 10th top-10 program Valpo has ever played. 

Ho Hum, Another Day in Double Figures: Betsy Adams and Lauren Kenney have tallied double figures in scoring in all seven games for the Crusaders this year.  Adams is averaging 17.1 points per contest on the year, leading the Horizon League in scoring.  Kenney is adding 16.0 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 12 straight overall dating back to last season. 

Becoming Quite the Passer: After registering just 13 assists all last season, Lauren Kenney has already dished out 17 helpers this season, tied for second on the team.  She had a career-high five at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

A Little of Everything: Betsy Adams made a season-high six triples at Pittsburgh Tuesday and leads the Horizon League in scoring averaging 17.1 points per game as well as triples per game at 3.6.  The 5-foot-7 guard also grabbed a career-best five rebounds against the much taller Panthers, one off of the team lead.  Adams ranks in the top-10 in the conference in free throw shooting (90.6%) and steals (1.7 per game) as well.

Block Party: Ashley Varner registered three blocked shots against Pittsburgh, a career high.  Her eight blocks this year match her total from 2008-2009.  As a team, Valpo has already blocked 20 shots in just seven games after finishing last year with 45 blocks in 30 contests.  The Crusaders had five against Pitt on Tuesday, matching a season-high.

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 seven games.  Skyler Gick has added 23 assists while turning the ball over just 13 times for a 1.8 assist-to-turnover mark.

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.

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.