Valparaiso (2-4, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #7: Saturday, December 1 - 1:35 p.m.
Saint Louis (2-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso women’s basketball team plays its lone home game in a six-week stretch on Saturday afternoon when the Crusaders host Saint Louis at the ARC. Following Saturday’s game, the Crusaders will play their next four contests on the road.
Last Time Out: Valpo started the second half on a run to claim the lead Tuesday evening in Macomb, Ill., but Western Illinois would eventually re-claim the lead for good as the Crusaders fell by a final score of 69-55 to close out a four-game road trip. The Crusaders led 44-41 with 14:02 to play, but a 13-2 run by the Leathernecks over a six-plus minute stretch secured the outcome.
The Road Ahead: Valpo kicks off another run of four consecutive road games on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at IPFW. The Crusaders then play at #7/6 Louisville on Saturday, Dec. 8 before taking 11 days between games for final exams.
Following the Crusaders: Saturday afternoon’s game will be broadcast live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso, with Joey Basil and Ryan Glatzhofer on the call. The game will also be video streamed live via the Horizon League Network. Links for the live audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available through www.valpoathletics.com
Head Coach Tracey Dorow: Tracey Dorow was named the seventh head women’s basketball coach in Crusader program history in April of 2012. Dorow arrived at Valpo after spending 14 seasons as the head coach at Ferris State University, guiding the Bulldogs to four NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division championships, and four 20-win seasons. In her 14 seasons at Ferris State, Dorow compiled a 232-163 (.587) record, including a 23-7 mark in 2011-2012 while guiding the Bulldogs to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Series Notes: Valpo and Saint Louis have met seven times in program history, with the Crusaders holding a narrow 4-3 edge in the all-time series. The two squads have not faced off since 1998, however, a game won 82-65 by the Billikens in St. Louis. Valpo won both previous matchups at the ARC.
Scouting Saint Louis: The Billikens enter Saturday’s game at 2-4 on the young season, most recently suffering a 48-46 home loss to Indiana State to snap a modest two-game winning streak. SLU plays at a slower pace, averaging just over 61 possessions per game while scoring just 48.2 ppg and surrendering just 54.2 ppg. Lorreal Jones leads the Billikens with 10.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest, while Courtney Webb adds 10.3 points per game.
Long-Awaited Return Home: After opening the season with a pair of home games, the Crusaders had been on the road, as their last home game came back on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The return home against Saint Louis Saturday afternoon gives Valpo a chance for a three-game home winning streak to start the season, which would be the first time the Crusaders have won three straight home games since Feb. 3-17, 2011.
A Long Road Trip, Part 1: Tuesday’s game at Western Illinois marked the last in a stretch of four straight road games for the Crusaders which started November 17 at IUPUI. The trip was the Crusaders’ first stretch of four consecutive true road games since Dec. 30, 2010-Jan. 8, 2011, while the last time Valpo had played four straight true road games outside of league play came Nov. 9-18, 2007.
A Long Road Trip, Part 2: While the Crusaders return home Saturday for a game against Saint Louis, they will turn right back around and play four more road games in a row Dec. 4-20 to close out the run of eight road games within a nine-game stretch. Out of the eight road games, however, seven games are against teams either in Indiana or in states adjacent to Indiana, with the Duke trip the only long-distance trip for the Crusaders.
Winning Her Debut: Head coach Tracey Dorow made her regular season debut a winning one on Friday, Nov. 17 by defeating Indiana. Dorow became just the second coach in Crusader women’s basketball history to win their Valpo debut on the sidelines, joining Dick Briars, whose 1983-1984 squad downed Hillsdale 71-67 in its season opener. With the win over Purdue Calumet, Dorow became the first Crusader women’s coach to win each of her first two games.
Downing the Big Ten: Valpo’s win over Indiana was just the second in program history over the Hoosiers, both of which have come at the ARC. The Crusaders previously defeated IU on Dec. 7, 1999 by a final of 64-60. Valpo’s last victory against a Big Ten team also came at the ARC on Dec. 10, 2008 over Purdue.
Roster Makeup: In her first season, Dorow is leading a squad which features eight returning letterwinners, including a trio of starters from last season. Five players are donning the Crusader uniform for the first time alongside the eight returnees as well.
Gerardot Named Preseason Second Team: Leading the returning starters is junior forward Tabitha Gerardot, a preseason Second Team All-League choice. Gerardot, an All-Newcomer Team selection following her freshman season, led the Crusaders and finished tenth in the league in scoring at 13.0 points per game in 2011-2012. Gerardot also averaged 6.8 rebounds per contest, second-best on the team
A Tough Schedule: The Crusaders have put together a challenging slate for the 2012-2013 campaign, including five contests against NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago. Highlights include the season opener at the ARC against Indiana, a game at perennial top-ten program Duke, and contests on the road versus 2012 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Michigan and Louisville.
Hitting the Glass: Valpo excelled early in the season in the rebounding tallies, and despite being out-rebounded 57-28 by #4 Duke, still ranks second in the Horizon League with a +2.7 average rebounding margin. The Crusaders out-rebounded Indiana in their season opener by 12 boards and had a massive +26 edge on the glass in the win over Purdue Calumet. Valpo has especially been active on the offensive boards, pulling down at least 11 offensive rebounds in each of its first six games. Last time out, the Crusaders matched their season high with 23 offensive rebounds as they out-rebounded WIU, 47-44.
Sharing is Caring: The Crusaders currently rank second in the league in the early going in assists/game, averaging 15.0 helpers per contest, led by just under four assists per game from Charae Richardson. Each of its first six games have seen Valpo assist on at least half of its made field goals. Last time out at Western Illinois, Valpo tallied 11 assists on 21 field goals.
Knocking Down Freebies: Valpo enters Saturday leading the league with a .733 team free throw percentage, including a season-best 10-of-11 performance from the charity stripe last time out. The Crusaders’ top-three in terms of free throw attempts all hit at least 72% from the stripe, led by Gerardot’s .882 clip, good for third in the league.
No Long Range Attack: The Crusaders have proven early this season to be one of the nation’s stingiest teams in terms of allowing 3-point attacks. Valpo’s opponents are shooting just .188 from behind the arc this year, the best mark in the Horizon League and among the top-10 in the nation. No opponent has connected on more than five 3-pointers to date either.
Earning League Honors: Sophomore Shaquira Scott showed little rust on the basketball court in her return after playing just 10 games last season due to injury. Scott was named the Horizon League Player of the Week following the first weekend of play after leading the Crusaders with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting in the win over IU. The sophomore was Valpo’s first player to earn weekly honors from the league office since Ashley Varner on Dec. 28, 2009.
Leading the Way: Junior Tabitha Gerardot, who led the Crusaders in scoring and finished second on the team in rebounding a year ago, has consistently been among Valpo’s leaders on a game-by-game basis this year. Gerardot has paced Valpo in scoring three times in the first six games, and has at least tied for team-high honors on the glass four times. The junior posted a double-double (18 pts, 12 rebs) against Purdue Calumet and has been in double figures in scoring in five of Valpo’s six games.
Lange Posts Big Game: Senior Gina Lange approached her career high last time out against Western Illinois, finishing the night with a team-high 16 points, just two points off her career best. Lange, who is now averaging eight points per game this year, also added a team-high eight rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end.