Valpo Women Open Horizon League Play Sunday at Butler
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Valpo Women Open Horizon League Play Sunday at Butler
Kelly Watts returned to the court for the Crusaders on Thursday at Eastern Illinois. (Ray Acevedo)

Valparaiso (3-9, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #13: Sunday, January 2, 2011, 1 p.m. CST
at Butler (6-6, 0-0 Horizon)
Hinkle Fieldhouse (10,000) - Indianapolis, Ind.

Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso rings in 2011 on Sunday afternoon opening Horizon League play when the Crusaders travel down to Indianapolis, Ind. to battle longtime rival Butler at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.  The Crusaders are looking to build off of their road win at Eastern Illinois on Thursday evening to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule.

On the Air: Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at  Chris Kleinhans-Schulz and Renee’ Turpa will be calling all of the action live from Hinkle Fieldhouse.  In addition, the game can be seen live online through the Horizon League Network.  Live stats will be available through for the game as well.

Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 17th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 272-211 (.563) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold.  In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 401-258 (.608) career mark.  He is Valpo’s all-time winningest coach and has amassed more than half of the victories in the program’s history.

Series Notes: Valparaiso and Butler are meeting for the 24th time in a series in which the Bulldogs lead 18-5.  Butler has won two straight in the series, winning both of last year’s meetings.  The Bulldogs were 57-43 victors in Indianapolis before winning 66-52 at the ARC.  Valpo’s last win in the series came Feb. 21, 2009 at the ARC, 75-65.  Butler has won seven straight games against the Crusaders at Hinkle Fieldhouse with the last Valpo road win coming on Dec. 5, 1983.

Wrapping Up Eastern Illinois: The Crusaders used a late 8-0 run to earn a 65-58 victory over the Panthers on Thursday evening in Charleston, Ill.  Valpo took a nine-point halftime advantage, only to see Eastern Illinois battle back and take a lead midway through the second half before the Crusaders pulled away late.  Betsy Adams led the Crusaders with 20 points while Tabitha Gerardot added 11 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the year.  Gina Lange also pulled down 10 boards for Valpo as the Brown and Gold outrebounded the Panthers 44-29.

Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs have dropped two straight games after falling 73-64 to Bowling Green on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.  Butler is 3-1 at home this season, and the Bulldogs were tabbed second in the preseason poll.  Brittany Bowen leads Butler, and ranks fifth in the conference, averaging 15.6 points per game.  She is shooting 87.8% from the free throw line as well, third in the league, while connecting on 44.4% from three-point range, tied for the top mark in the conference.  Chole Hamilton adds 12.4 points per game while Alyssa Pittman adds 11.0 points per night.

Valpo in Horizon League Openers: Since joining the Horizon League prior to the 2007-2008 season, the Crusaders are 2-1 in conference openers, falling for the first time last year, 60-51 against UIC at home.  In Valpo’s inaugural Horizon League game, Jan. 5, 2008, the Crusaders defeated Butler 77-69 at the ARC before downing Youngstown State 86-43 in 2009.  This will be Valpo’s first Horizon League opener away from home.

Welcome Back Watts: Kelly Watts made her first appearance of the 2010-2011 season on Thursday against Eastern Illinois, coming off of the bench to play 17 minutes.  Watts, who started 16 games one year ago when she averaged 6.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, tallied seven points and grabbed seven boards while shooting 3-of-4 from the floor.

Richards Scores Season High against Panthers: Laura Richards tallied a season-high eight points in the road win against Eastern Illinois.  The sophomore guard knocked down two three-pointers, the first time in her career she’s made more than one triple in a game.

Just Another Double-Double for Gerardot: Tabitha Gerardot is only 12 games into her collegiate career, yet she’s already tallied her fifth double-double after scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 boards against Eastern Illinois on Thursday.  The freshman also has double-doubles against Cincinnati, Evansville, Coastal Carolina, and Chicago State this season.  The rookie is second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.7 points per game, while leading the Crusaders with 7.3 rebounds per contest, the ninth best rebounding mark in the Horizon League.

Defense is the Key: Valpo has won all three of its games this season when holding the opposition to fewer than 60 points in a game.  On the year the Crusaders are surrendering 70.8 points per contest, but in the wins that number shrinks to just 55.7 per night.

Lang Proficient Against the Big East: Stefanie Lang, who is averaging 5.3 points per game this season, has scored over half of her points against the Big East.  She scored 32 points (8.0 per game) combined against DePaul, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame while tallying just 31 in the other eight contests this year.  Both of her double figure scoring effort have come against that conference as well, tallying 11 against Notre Dame and 10 against DePaul.

Big Crowd for Notre Dame: Valpo’s crowd of 1,877 fans on “Pack the ARC” night against Notre Dame was the largest Crusader home crowd since the Brown and Gold hosted the Fighting Irish in 2008.  On Dec. 13, 2008, 2,046 fans saw the two schools separated by just 58 miles.

Closing Out 2010: Valpo closed out the 2010 calendar year on Thursday with a victory over Eastern Illinois to hopefully build momentum heading into 2011.  The Crusaders posted just a 9-24 record during 2010, but with no seniors among Valpo’s top six scorers, the future looks promising for the Brown and Gold heading into 2011.

Road Warriors: Valpo closed out 2010 and begin 2011 with its longest road trip of the season.  The Crusaders began the journey by wrapping up non-conference action with a win at Eastern Illinois and now head to Butler for the Horizon League opener.  Two more league games at Detroit and Wright State conclude the road trip for the Crusaders before returning home Jan. 13 to host Youngstown State.

Adams From Deep: Betsy Adams has already made 29 triples this season after making 64 last year to rank 10th on the single season charts.  The junior guard has made at least one trey in 10 of the 12 contests this season, being shutout against just Cincinnati and Notre Dame, when she attempted just one shot in each game.  Adams has 107 career three-pointers, just 12 triples shy of the all-time top-10 list in Crusader history.

Accepting Charity: After making just four of her first seven free throws this season, Betsy Adams has found her stroke at the charity stripe.  The junior guard has made 22 of her last 24 attempts, including her last 10 straight, beginning with the Lamar game on Nov. 20.  For the season Adams is connecting on 83.9% from the free throw line, the sixth best mark in the Horizon League.

Raining Threes: Valparaiso ranks third the Horizon League shooting 33.5% from three-point range while making 6.8 triples per contest.  Twelve of the 13 Crusaders that have seen the floor this season have already attempted at least one three-point field goals with nine having drained at least two shots from beyond the arc.

Needing the Lead Early: Thus far this season the Crusader have not been able to overcome a halftime tie or deficit to pull out a victory.  On the other hand, when Valpo has led going into the locker room, the Brown and Gold is a perfect 3-0. 

Still Able to Rally for the Win Though:
Despite needing the lead at halftime to win so far this year, the Crusaders showed they were able to come from behind in all three contests.  While Valpo led the entire second half against Austin Peay after trailing early in the game, the Brown and Gold came from nine points down with less than 12 minutes to play to post the overtime triumph against Coastal Carolina.  Valpo also rallied from behind in the second half to defeat Eastern Illinois.

Super Woman: Betsy Adams never stepped off of the court on Dec. 8 against IPFW, playing all 40 minutes.  It was the first time in the junior’s career she had not spent at least one minute on the bench.  Adams’ career high for minutes played is 44 in an overtime contest one year ago at Detroit.

Adams Earns All-Tourney Honors: Betsy Adams was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Aces Classic.  She averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the Crusaders.

Freeman Earns Win #400: Head coach Keith Freeman needed five extra minutes on Dec. 4, but they were well worth it as the Crusaders’ come-from-behind win over Coastal Carolina, 59-52, gave him his 400th career victory coaching women’s basketball.  In his 23rd season on the sidelines, he entered the 2010-2011 season tied for 43rd 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 and holds every one of Valpo’s coaching records.

Valpo Signs Three for 2011-2012: Coach Keith Freeman added three players for next year’s class that signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Brown and Gold beginning next fall.  Joining the Crusader roster in 2011-2012 are Jessica Carr (5-7, G, Arcadia, Ind., Hamilton Heights H.S.), Mallory Ladd (6-0, F, Evansville, Ind./Memorial H.S.), and Shaquira Scott (5-10, G, Wilmette, Ill./Loyola Academy).

Crusaders to Have Tri-Captains: Head coach Keith Freeman has announced that the Crusaders will have tri-captains for the 2010-2011 season.  Serving in that role are seniors Ashley Varner and Rashida Ray along with junior Betsy Adams.

No Relation Here:
Despite having three Lang(e)’s on the roster, none of the three players are related to one another.  Gina Lange returns for her sophomore season after arriving from Wyoming, Minn. and averaging 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while appearing 16 times as a freshman last year.  Freshman Stefanie Lang is a local product from Valparaiso High School who earned Honorable Mention All-State accolades for the Vikings.  Erika Lang joined the Crusader roster this fall as a walk-on.  The freshman hails from Las Vegas, Nev.

Valpo Tabbed Ninth in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso was picked to finish in ninth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members.  Finishing with 82 points, the Crusaders were just two points behind eighth place Wright State.  Green Bay was picked to win the league followed by Butler and Detroit.  Cleveland State and UIC shared the fourth spot with Milwaukee predicted to finish sixth and Loyola seventh.   Youngstown State was picked last in this year’s preseason balloting. 

Varner to Miss Season with ACL Injury:
Valpo senior Ashley Varner will miss the 2010-2011 season due to an ACL injury she suffered during the fall.  Varner would have been one the Crusaders’ top returning post players, but plans to use the season as a redshirt year now and return to the court for 2011-2012.  Varner averaged 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Crusaders last year with a team-leading 17 blocked shots.

This and That:
Valpo has used the same starting lineup in all 12 games this season ... Eastern Illinois had been 37-4 in the last 41 games at home before Valpo posted the win on Thursday ... Valpo outrebounded the Panthers in the win, just the third time this year the Crusaders outboarded their opponent.