Game 17 - Green Bay (9-6, 3-2 Horizon) at Valparaiso (11-5, 2-2 Horizon) - Saturday, January 12, 2008 - 7:05 p.m.
The Matchup: Valparaiso continues Horizon League action today with a matchup against the Phoenix of Green Bay at the ARC. The two schools are renewing a rivalry that dates back to the 1981-82 season. Both teams were charter members of the former Mid-Continent Conference and faced off at least twice a year until Green Bay’s departure from the league prior to the 1994-95 season. The two teams have met 31 times on the hardwood, with Green Bay owning a 19-12 advantage in the series.
Last Meeting: Valpo and Green Bay played an even game for the first 14 minutes of their contest on Dec. 22, 1998, but an 11-0 late first-half run by Green Bay propelled it to a 10-point halftime lead and an eventual 77-50 victory over the Crusaders. Valpo cut the deficit to single digits numerous times in the second half and was within nine points with 12:23 to play, but Green Bay scored 27 of the game’s final 36 points. Lubos Barton was the only Crusader to finish in double figures in the scoring column with 14 points, while Ivan Vujic led the Valpo effort on the boards with five caroms. Green Bay was paced by 28 points and six rebounds from Jerry Carstensen, who hit 11 of his 16 shots from the field, while Matt Hill added 18 points and six boards.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso led by six points with under six minutes to play Thursday evening in its Horizon League home opener at the Athletics-Recreation Center, but Milwaukee rallied to down the Crusaders by a 71-69 count. The loss snapped Valpo’s 13-game home winning streak at the ARC. Jarryd Loyd paced the Crusaders with 18 points off the bench on 7-for-11 shooting, the fourth straight game he has led Valpo in scoring. Brandon McPherson added 15 points, while Urule Igbavboa and Shawn Huff each scored 11.
On the Air: Today’s game, like every game this season, can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a four-station entity carrying Crusader athletics all over Northwest Indiana, and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Originating from WVUR, 95.1 FM in Valparaiso, the Valpo Sports Radio Network also includes WEFM, 95.9 FM in Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM in Valparaiso; and WWLO, 89.1 FM in Lowell. Veteran broadcaster Todd Ickow returns for his 17th season on play-by-play, while WVUR’s Adam Amin will handle the color commentary. The game can also be seen on the internet through the Horizon League Network.
There’s No Place Like Home: While the Crusaders had their 13-game home winning streak snapped Thursday night, they still enjoy a tremendous home-court advantage at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Since the ARC opened prior to the 1984-85 season, the Crusaders are 209-92 (.694) at home, including a sterling 155-27 (.852) mark over the last 15 years. The program record for longest winning streak at the ARC is a 20-game stretch spanning the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, while the just-snapped streak was the fifth longest in program history.
Rugged Road: Every season, the Crusaders face a number of early challenges, and this year has been no different. Through the season’s first 15 games, Valpo had faced off against four teams currently ranked among the nation’s top-25 squads, with all four matchups coming on the opponent’s home court (Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Butler). While the Crusaders were unable to win any of the four games, they did showcase their ability to play with some of the best teams in the nation, as they led in the second half at Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Butler, and rallied from an early 17-point deficit to tie the game at North Carolina in the second half.
All About the Ratings: Valparaiso’s move to the Horizon League has proven to be a win-win for both parties in a number of rating systems so far this year. Valpo is currently 61st in the RPI, one of five HL squads in the top-86 nationally, and the league is ranked ninth. In the Sagarin ratings, the Crusaders sit 64th, while the Horizon ranks 10th among the 31 Division I leagues.
Cracking the Top 25: Valpo broke into the Mid-Major Top 25 poll for the first time this season on Dec. 3. The Crusaders debuted at #21 and moved up to #12 in the poll of Dec. 10. After defeating Evansville and Chicago State, Valpo jumped again, climbing two spots to #10. The Crusaders currently sit 20th in the polling. It is the first season that the Crusaders have been ranked in the poll since the 2003-04 campaign.
Bringing Experience With Them: The Crusaders make the step up to the Horizon League with a core group of experienced players. Valpo returns eight of 11 players who took the court last season, including each of its top seven scorers. 93.6% of last year’s scoring, 86.6% of last year’s rebounding and 90.4% of last year’s minutes played are back for the 2007-08 campaign, the highest returning percentage in each category among Horizon League squads.
Best Start: Nine conference championships. Seven NCAA Tournament appearances. A magical run to the Sweet 16. 302 wins. These are just some of the accomplishments that Crusader head coach Homer Drew and his players had piled up during Drew’s first 18 seasons at the helm of the Valpo men’s basketball program. But none of Drew’s teams had accomplished what this year’s squad did: winning ten of the season’s first 11 games. The previous best start under Drew came from the 1996-1997 team, which started 9-2 in its first 11 contests.
Shooting From 19’9”: Valparaiso has proven to be one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams so far this season. The Crusaders are connecting on 41.4% of their attempts from behind the arc, 16th best among the 341 Division I teams. The team average of 9.6 made 3-pointers per game is good for 11th nationally as well. It’s not just one player that has been a threat for Valpo from behind the arc either, as the team’s top four 3-point shooters are all averaging better than one make per game and are all connecting on at least 42% of their attempts from downtown.
Loyd Lighting it Up...: Senior guard Jarryd Loyd has been sparking the Crusader offense over the past four games. Coming off the bench, Loyd is connecting on 59.2% (29-of-49) of his shots, including a 62.5% (10-of-16) clip from behind the arc and is averaging 19 points and 4.8 assists per game. He has scored at least 15 points in each of the games and has led Valpo in the scoring column in all four contests.
...and Moving Up the Charts: With his play this season, Loyd has continued to climb two of Valpo’s all-time charts. The senior entered the season ranked 14th in program history with 262 career assists and moved up to 9th on the chart with his second assist against Milwaukee on Thursday. He currently sits just 11 helpers shy of the 8th spot. Loyd also entered the year eighth all-time in 3-point percentage at 39.9%, but his 52% clip from behind the arc this year has bettered his career mark to 42.5%, good for fifth place in Crusader history.
Spreading the Wealth: This year’s Crusaders have spread the ball around on the offensive end of the court, as four players are averaging in double figures and six are scoring at least 8.8 points per game. Six different players have scored in double figures in at least five games for Valpo, with Loyd, Shawn Huff and Urule Igbavboa each breaking the 10-point barrier on nine occasions.
Efficient Offense: Valparaiso’s offense took full advantage of its opportunities Dec. 8 at Detroit, connecting on 66.7% (30-of-45) of its field goal attempts, one of the top-10 single game efforts in Division I this year. The Crusaders’ shooting percentage rose even higher inside the arc, as Valpo connected on a staggering 80% (20-of-25) of its two-point attempts.
Hitting the Boards: Valparaiso outrebounded Vanderbilt on Nov. 20 by a 45-37 margin, but was especially effective on the offensive end, pulling down 21 offensive rebounds. The 21 offensive caroms were the most by a Crusader team since they grabbed 23 offensive boards at Duke on February 26, 2004. In addition, Valpo’s offensive rebounding led to 79 shot attempts, the most by a Crusader team in the last ten seasons.
Half of Dominance: Valparaiso put together one of its most dominating halves of basketball in recent history against Indiana Wesleyan on Jan. 2. The Crusaders outscored the Wildcats by a 58-15 margin in the second half, hitting 61.3% of their shots for the half and allowing IWU to hit just 21.2%. Five different Valpo players had at least eight points in the second 20 minutes, and the Crusaders put together runs of 13-0, 10-0, 14-0 and 17-0 during the half.
Haanpää’s Magical Night: Sophomore guard Samuel Haanpää enjoyed one of the best performances in Crusader history Dec. 15 against Chicago State, breaking current associate head coach Bryce Drew’s team record for 3-pointers in a game. Haanpää knocked down 10 triples in the contest, matching the most by any Division I player against a D-I opponent this year. He also set a new career high with 32 points in the 90-61 victory.