Valparaiso (8-17, 4-10 Horizon)
Game #26: Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7 p.m. CST
at #12/12 Green Bay (23-1, 13-1 Horizon)
Kress Events Center (4,018) - Green Bay, Wis.
Upcoming in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso heads to Wisconsin to begin its final road trip of the regular season on Thursday evening. Having won three of their last four games, the Crusaders will be faced with a challenging task taking on #12/12 Green Bay at the Kress Events Center.
On the Air: Thursday’s game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at valpoathletics.com. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz and Renee’ Turpa will call all of the action live from the Kress Events Center. The game can also be seen live online through valpoathletics.com as part of the Horizon League Network. Live stats will be available through valpoathletics.com for all games this season as well.
Head Coach Keith Freeman: In his 18th season on the Valparaiso bench, Keith Freeman has a 284-243 (.539) record at the helm of the Brown and Gold. In his 23rd season overall, Freeman has a 413-290 (.587) 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 Green Bay are meeting for the 28th time in a series that dates back to Dec. 9, 1986. The Phoenix lead the overall series between the two schools 23-4 and have won eight straight meetings. Green Bay won this year’s previous contest 65-37 at the ARC on Jan. 28. Valpo’s last win in the series came on Jan. 19, 2008, a 90-88 overtime thriller at the ARC. The Phoenix are 11-2 against the Crusaders in Green Bay and have won eight straight against Valpo in Wisconsin. Valpo’s last win at Green Bay came on March 8, 1991, 72-69.
Wrapping Up Loyola: Valparaiso made 12 of its first 16 shots from the floor while racing out to a 26-8 lead on the way to a 69-46 victory over the Ramblers on Saturday afternoon at the ARC. The Crusaders shot 52.9% from the floor for the game, their best shooting game of the season. Tabitha Gerardot led Valpo with 20 points, making 9-of-10 from the field, while Ashley Varner added a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards. Gina Lange pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds. Simone Law led Loyola with 12 points.
Scouting Green Bay: The Phoenix have won three straight games following a 77-72 overtime victory on Saturday at Youngstown State. Julie Wojta leads the conference averaging 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and ranks 25th and 18th respectively in the two categories nationally. Wojta also ranks seventh in the country with 3.7 steals per contest. Adrian Ritchie adds 12.6 points per game while Lydia Bauer chips in 11.7 points per night. Green Bay is 17th in the country scoring 74.6 points per game and is ninth in scoring margin at +19.3. The Phoenix are second in Division I at +9.58 in turnover margin, forcing 25.6 miscues per contest.
Valpo Against Ranked Foes: The Crusaders are 0-18 all-time against ranked opponents and 1-11 all-time on the road. Valpo’s lone victory all-time came against #21/23 Purdue on Dec. 10, 2008, a 71-60 triumph at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo has faced at least one ranked team every season but one since 1996-1997. Green Bay was ranked #12/9 the first time the two schools met, marking the only opponent this season that was ranked when the Crusaders faced them.
Gerardot Nearly Perfect: Tabitha Gerardot made 9-of-10 shots from the floor on Saturday against Loyola (Chicago) on her way to a game-high 20 points. The sophomore’s 90% shooting percentage ranks fourth in school history for a single game (minimum eight attempts).
Another Double-Double for Varner: Ashley Varner registered her seventh double-double of the season on Saturday afternoon, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Varner’s last double-double had come on Feb. 4 at Cleveland State when she tallied 26 points and 13 boards. The fifth-year senior now has eight career double-doubles and four in Horizon League play this year.
Super Women: Tabitha Gerardot and Gina Lange both played all 40 minutes for the second straight game on Saturday afternoon while Laura Richards only left the floor for the final 18.5 seconds. Richards has gone the distance eight times this season, and had played all 199+ minutes over the last five games until her last minute spell. The complete game effort was Lange’s sixth of the season.
Crashing the Glass: Gina Lange pulled down a season high 10 rebounds on Saturday against the Ramblers, her first double figure game on the glass all year. She had previously pulled down nine caroms in a game three times. Lange’s career high of 13 rebounds came against Ball State last season.
Fighting for a Home Game: With four games remaining in the regular season, Valparaiso is one-half game out of seventh place in the Horizon League standings and one-half game ahead of ninth place. The seventh and eighth place teams will host the ninth and 10th place teams in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament which begins on March 5.
Getting Defensive: Valparaiso ranks among the Horizon League leaders in most defensive categories. The Crusaders are second in the conference, and 75th nationally, allowing just 57.3 points per game. Valpo also ranks third in the league in field goal percentage defense (37.4%) as well as second in three-point field goal percentage defense (29.3%).
Showing Second Half Improvement: With three victories in the first five games of the second half of Horizon League play, the Crusaders have already shown significant improvement over the first half in terms of win output. In fact, in every year since Valpo joined the Horizon League, the Brown and Gold has tallied as many, if not more, conference wins during the second half of league play as the first.
Varner on the Rebounding List: Ashley Varner has continued to climb the Crusaders’ all-time rebounding charts this season, passing Jill Otto (1985-1989) for 13th on the career list. The fifth-year senior’s 540 career boards are 31 behind Deb Lahti (1982-1984) and Carrie Forsman (1992-1996) for 11th on the career charts.
Top-10 for Richards on Assists Chart: Laura Richards has moved into ninth place all-time at Valpo with 273 assists, passing Lisa Winter (1998-2000) on the career charts. Richards is five assists behind Suzie Hammel (2000-2004) for eighth on the all-time list and 14 helpers behind Lauren Bechtold (2002-2006) for a spot in the top-seven.
Varner Earns Academic Honor: Ashley Varner was named as the Horizon League’s Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December. The fifth-year senior averaged 13.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in seven contests during the month, posting four double-doubles. In the classroom she is enrolled in graduate school working on her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling after already earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Gerardot Garners All-Tournament Team Accolades: Tabitha Gerardot was named to the Omni Hotels Classic All-Tournament Team following her efforts last weekend against Colorado and Montana State. The sophomore forward averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest while shooting 57.1% (8-of-14) from the floor in Boulder, Colo.
Dialing Long Range: The Crusaders connected on 7-of-11 three-pointers against Butler on Feb. 11, connecting on 63.6% from long range. The long range shooting ties for the eighth best single game percentage from beyond the arc in school history.
Getting to the Free Throw Line: Ashley Varner made 13-of-18 free throws against Cleveland State on Feb. 4. Her 13 free throws made tie her for fifth on Valpo’s single game list while her 18 attempts mark the third most by any Crusader in a game in school history.
Valpo Signs Three for 2012-2013: Coach Keith Freeman added three players for next year’s class that have signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Brown and Gold beginning next fall. Joining the Crusader roster in 2012-2013 are guards Abby Dean (5-10, Carmel, Ind./Carmel H.S.), Sarah Godwin (5-10, Yardley, Pa./Princeton Day H.S. [N.J.]), and Jessi Wiedemann (6-0, Palatine, Ill./Fremd H.S.).
This and That: Laura Richards and Jessica Carr combined for 13 assists on Saturday against Loyola ... Richards had eight helpers with just one turnover and ranks fifth in the conference with 3.8 helpers per game ... Carr’s five assists were one off a career high ... Valpo shot 52.9% against the Ramblers on Saturday, its best shooting night of the year ... the Crusaders were 7-of-15 from three-point range against Loyola ... three of Valpo’s last four opponents have shot 33.3% or worse from the field against the Crusaders.