Valpo Heads to Southern California to Battle Auburn in Surf 'n Slam
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Valpo Heads to Southern California to Battle Auburn in Surf 'n Slam
Skyler Gick is second in the Horizon League in assist-to-turnover ratio. (Ray Acevedo)

Game #10: Dec. 28, 2009, 9 p.m. CST
Valparaiso (3-6, 0-0 Horizon)
vs. Auburn (8-3, 0-0 SEC)
Viejas Arena (12, 414) - San Diego, Calif.
San Diego Surf ‘n Slam First Round

Coming Up in Crusader Hoops: Valparaiso heads to sunny California for the San Diego Surf ‘n Slam Tournament beginning on Monday evening as the Crusaders take on Auburn in the opening round.  Tournament host San Diego State and Wake Forest round out the tournament field.

On the Air: Monday’s game against Auburn 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 Viejas Arena.  Live stats will be available through as well.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and Auburn are meeting for the first time ever on the hardwood.  The Crusaders have only played two Southeastern Conference teams in school history.  Valpo lost to South Carolina 79-53 on November 26, 1994 at the Dial Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. The Crusaders also fell 77-69 in overtime at the ARC against Arkansas on December 28, 1997.

Head Coach Keith Freeman:
In his 16th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 263-187 record at the helm of the Brown and Gold.  In his 22nd season overall, Freeman has a 392-234 career mark.  He is Valpo’s all-time winningest coach and has amassed more than half of the victories in the program’s history.

Wrapping Up Cincinnati: The Crusaders led 41-37 with nine minutes to play, but the host Bearcats finished the game on a 25-9 run to defeat Valpo 62-50 last Monday evening in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Ashley Varner scored a career-high 23 points for the Brown and Gold, the only Crusader to tally double figures.  The junior made five triples, also a career-best.  Valpo shot just 33% from the floor in the loss, including 23% over the game’s final 20 minutes.

Scouting Auburn: The Tigers have won five straight following a 71-50 victory at South Alabama on Sunday, December 20.  The defending Southeastern Conference champion is led by Alli Smalley, who averages 15.9 points per game.  KeKe Carrier adds 13.0 points per night, while grabbing 6.4 rebounds per game.  Carrier is shooting 62.1% from the floor on the year.  As a team, Auburn is shooting 44% from the floor while outrebounding teams by nearly five boards per contest.

Varner Has Career Night: Ashley Varner had the best game of her Crusader career last Monday at Cincinnati, scoring a career-high 23 points to lead the Brown and Gold.  The junior made five three-pointers, three more than she had made in any previous game during her three years at Valpo, and also grabbed seven rebounds, a team high.  Varner’s previous career best with the Crusaders was 14 points, both against Ball State earlier this season and against Youngstown State during her sophomore campaign.

Moore Breaks Out in a Big Way: Raegan Moore entered the game against Notre Dame with four career points in her first six games as a Crusader.  She stepped up big against the Fighting Irish, scoring a team-high 16 points, including a 5-for-5 effort from the free throw line.  Moore followed that effort up with six more points at Cincinnati.

Among the Nation’s Best from the Stripe:
Valpo was ranked 12th in the country shooting 77.4% as a team from the free throw line this season according to the latest NCAA release (Dec. 20)  Following the Cincinnati game, Valpo dipped to 75.9%, a figure which is still second best in the Horizon League.  Betsy Adams leads the Brown and Gold connecting at 91.2% (31-of-34).  Adams ranked 18th individually in Division I in free throw shooting as of December 20 as well.

The League’s Top Scorers: Lauren Kenney leads the Horizon League in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game this season.  The senior forward has tallied 11 or more points in all eight contests she has played in this year, posting a season-best 21 points against both SIU Edwardsville and Central Michigan.  Betsy Adams ranks sixth in the conference in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per night.  The sophomore guard had posted double figures in the seven of nine games this year.
Ho Hum, Another Day in Double Figures: Lauren Kenney has tallied double figures in scoring in all eight games she has played for the Crusaders this year.  Kenney’s string of double figure contests has reached 13 straight overall, dating back to last season.  The senior has posted 21 double figure contests in her 32 collegiate games at Valpo.

Freeman Coaches #450: Last Monday’s game at Cincinnati was the 450th game Keith Freeman has coached at the helm of the Crusaders.  He has coached nearly half of all of the program’s games in the history of Valpo women’s basketball.

60 and 70 Appear to be Magic Numbers: All three of Valpo’s victories this year have come when the Crusaders have scored 70 or more points offensively.  In addition, in the three wins, the Crusaders have held the opposition to less than 60 points.

Block Party: Ashley Varner registered three blocked shots against Pittsburgh, a career high, part of a season-high five by the Crusaders in the game.  Her nine blocks this year have already surpassed her entire total from 2008-2009.  As a team, Valpo has already blocked 26 shots in just nine games, more than half of the team’s total from all of 2008-2009.  Last year the Crusaders finished with just 45 blocks in 30 contests.

Freshman Among Assist/Turnover Leaders:
Valpo’s freshman point guard Skylar Gick ranks second in the Horizon League in assist-to-turnover ratio.  She has dished out 31 assists while turning the ball over just 16 times for a 1.9 assist-to-turnover mark.  Gick’s 3.4 assists per game also rank 10th in the conference.

Brrr.... It’s Cold Inside the Gym:
Valpo struggled shooting the basketball against the three Big East opponents (Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati), connecting for just 30.1% from the floor over the three games.  The Crusaders shot 33.3% against the Bearcats last Monday after connecting for less than 30% against each of the first two foes.

Wrapping Up the Year:
With two games left in the 2009 calendar year, the Crusaders have posted a 14-15 record since January 1.  Valpo finished 10-5 at home in the ARC during the year.

A Perfect Effort: Betsy Adams went a perfect 10-for-10 against Colorado State from the free throw line.  Her performance against the Rams marked the fourth most makes without a miss ever at Valpo.  Ironically, Adams went  just 6-of-10 for the season 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.