First-Place Valpo Travels To Play Centenary On Thursday
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
VALPO (10-9, 7-3 Mid-Con) at CENTENARY (11-8, 5-3 Mid-Con)

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 5 - 7:05 p.m. CST

WHERE: Gold Dome, Shreveport, Louisiana

RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Andy Viano announcing.

TV: none

THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Homer Drew, who has a career record of 515-315 in his 27th season and a record at Valpo of 246-193 in his 15th season. Centenary is led by Kevin Johnson, who has a career mark of 57-72 in his 5th season and a record at Centenary of 57-72 in his 5th season.

SERIES RECORD: Centenary leads 3-2
LAST MEETING: Jan. 22, 2004 - Valpo won 77-66 at Valpo

LAST GAME: Valpo defeated Western Illinois 81-79 in overtime on Saturday in Macomb, Illinois. Centenary defeated IUPUI 67-65 on Saturday in Shreveport.

NEXT UP: Valpo travels to play at Chicago State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Carrying the momentum of a six-game win streak, first-place Valpo (10-9, 7-3 Mid-Con) travels to Shreveport, Louisiana to oppose Centenary (11-8, 5-3) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. CST. The Crusaders are coming off a thrilling 81-79 overtime win over Western Illinois last Saturday. Dan Oppland recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds. A 6'8" sophomore, Oppland scored eight on his points in overtime. Ali Berdiel added 13 points and five assists. Centenary defeated IUPUI 67-65 on Saturday. Andrew Wisniewski, this week's Mid-Con Co-Player of the Week, led the Gents with 19 points.

DUSTING OFF THE OLDIES: Senior Greg Tonagel played his first two games of the season last week. Tonagel, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, averaged 6.5 points and 3.0 apg. in the two wins. He converted two free throws with 10 seconds left to secure the win over Oakland. The 6'3" guard was pressed into service due to several injuries to Valpo's backcourt.

BERDIEL 10th NATIONALLY IN ASSISTS: Ali Berdiel ranks 10th in the nation in assists through games of Feb. 2, according to the NCAA statistics. Through games of Feb. 4 , Berdiel ranks 2nd in the Mid-Con in assists with 6.53 per game (124 in 19 games) and 3rd in steals (1.9 pg.).In the last seven games, Berdiel has provided solid numbers in several areas. The 6'6" junior has averaged 16.0 ppg., 7.9 assists and 3.3 rpg. during the stretch.

DAN OPPLAND PLAYING AT HIGH LEVEL: Sophomore Dan Oppland has been the model of consistency. The 6'8" forward, who leads the team in scoring (15.1 ppg.), has tallied double-figure points in 18 of the 19 games and grabbed twin-digit rebounds four times. He has been particularly impressive in Mid-Con games, averaging 17.2 ppg. and shooting .559 from the field. Oppland stands 2nd overall in the Mid-Con in offensive rebounding (3.26 pg.), 5th in field goal percentage (.541), 6th in rebounding (6.9 pg.) and 7th in free throw percentage (.802).

GOMES LEADS MID-CON IN BLOCKED SHOTS; RANKS SECOND IN BOARDS: Kikas Gomes leads the Mid-Con in blocked shots (1.9 pg., 37 in 19 games) and ranks 2nd in rebounding (9.4 pg.) through Feb. 4. Gomes, who has nine double-doubles on the season, has blocked 15 shots over the last six games.

VALPO LEADS MID-CON IN DEFENSIVE CATEGORY: The Crusaders have played solid defense this season as evidenced by their leadership of a key Mid-Con defensive category. Valpo tops the league in field goal percentage defense (.414) and stands 2nd in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.309).