Friday, December 12, 2008
Game #9 - Valparaiso at Miami - Saturday, December 13, 2008 - 3 p.m. CST
The Matchup: Valparaiso plays its first non-league road game
of the 2008-09 campaign on Saturday afternoon, traveling to Oxford,
Ohio to take on Miami in a return game from last year’s epic ESPNU
BracketBusters matchup. The Crusaders have lost in four of their last
five games, while Miami has won four of its last five.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso never led Wednesday evening at
the Athletics-Recreation Center, as IPFW used an early 14-3 run to jump
out to a double-digit lead on its way to a 63-46 victory over the
Crusaders. The teams were tied at six just four minutes in before the
Mastodons went on their run. IPFW’s lead remained in double figures
into the second half, but a 10-2 run by the Crusaders to start the
second stanza cut the edge to 33-28 with 16:40 to play. The Mastodons
went on an 18-5 surge over the next eight minutes to take control for
good. Howard Little led the Crusaders with 11 points on 4-of-6
shooting, but was the only Valpo player to reach double figures, as
they shot just 31.1% from the floor and 19.0% behind the arc on the
game. Jake Diebler added eight points, three assists and two steals
while not committing a turnover.
Series History: Valpo and Miami never met until last season at
the ARC, when senior Shawn Huff scored 26 of his career-best 32 points
after halftime and fellow senior Jarryd Loyd scored the Crusaders’ last
seven points in the final two minutes of the second overtime period as
the Crusaders earned an epic 99-94 victory in double overtime. The
game was broadcast live nationwide on ESPN Classic on part of the
O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters event.
Following the Crusaders: Today’s game can be heard live
on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, a four-station entity carrying
Crusader athletics all over Northwest Indiana. Originiating from WVUR,
95.1 FM in Valparaiso, the VSRN also includes WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan
City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso; and WWLO, 89.1 FM, Lowell. Veteran
broadcaster Todd Ickow returns for his 18th season on play-by-play for
the Crusaders, while WVUR’s David Schroeder will handle the color
commentary. The audio is also available online at
www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats.
Either Hot or Cold: The Valparaiso offense hasn’t had much
in-between so far in the 2008-09 season. Four out of their first eight
games, the Crusaders have hit better than 45% of their shots from the
field, going 3-1 in those contests. But three times, Valpo has shot
worse than 32%, including last time out against IPFW, resulting in its
three double-digit losses.
Big Man With a Career High:
Spreading Out the Scoring: The Crusaders have had a variety of
different players contribute in the scoring column during the early
stages of the season. Seven different players are averaging between
6.0 and 10.1 points per game for Valpo. In addition, eight players
have also scored in double figures at least once so far this year for
Valpo, including four players (Buggs, Fumey, Haskins, Witt) who are in
their first season on the court and two more (Little, Rogers) who are
in just their second season.
Success Right Around the Corner?: While the Crusaders have
dropped five of their last six contests, there is recent precedent for
a sustained string of success immediately following a rough stretch.
Last season, Valpo lost six of seven games from Jan. 26-Feb. 20 before
reeling off six consecutive victories, while the year prior, the
Crusaders fell eight straight times (Nov. 21-Dec. 22) and rebounded to
win seven of their next nine games.
Postseason Trips: Valparaiso’s trip to the inaugural College
Basketball Invitational last season was its first postseason berth
since the 2003-2004 campaign and extended an impressive streak. 16
consecutive classes of Crusader basketball players have experienced at
least one postseason tournament.
Drew Closing In on 600: In his 32nd season as a collegiate head
coach and his 20th year at Valpo, Crusader head coach Homer Drew is
just four wins shy of his 600th career win. Drew would become just the
seventh active coach in Division I with at least 600 wins and just the
33rd coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the milestone.
Tabbed Seventh: The Crusader men’s basketball team has been
picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League for the 2008-09 season,
according to polling of the league’s head coaches, sports information
directors and media members. Cleveland State has been tabbed the
preseason favorite with 40 of the possible 49 first-place votes.
Wright State was picked second with UIC third and Green Bay fourth.
2007-08 league champion Butler was selected fifth, while Milwaukee was
picked just ahead of the Crusaders in sixth. Loyola, Detroit and
Youngstown State rounded out the polling.
Which Line Are We Using?: The men’s college 3-point line has
been moved back a foot this year, from the previous distance of 19’9”
to the current distance of 20’9”. Many courts, such as the ARC, now
have multiple 3-point lines on the hardwood, as the women’s 3-point
distance remained the same, but the relevant line on the ARC court for
the men’s games is the more distant, light brown line.
Preseason Second Team All-Horizon
League selection Urule Igbavboa was placed on the preseason All-Horizon
League Second Team after his stellar junior campaign. The senior
forward showed his proficiency at both ends of the floor last time out
at Youngstown State, helping the Crusaders rally from a 14-point
deficit with a career-high 27 point effort, also grabbing nine
rebounds. Igbavboa hit nine of his 15 attempts from the floor and
drained 9-of-11 free throws on the game. This year, the senior leads
Valparaiso in both scoring (10.1 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg). Last
time out against IPFW, Igbavboa passed the 900-point barrier and moved
into 13th on Valpo’s all-time rebounding chart with 578 caroms.
The Un-Masked Man:
Playing without his trademark mask this
season, senior guard Jake Diebler has continued to play his trademark
style of basketball in his final year. Diebler nearly put up a new
career high last Thursday at Youngstown State, matching his career best
with four triples on his way to 15 points. The Upper Sandusky, Ohio
native currently has an assist/turnover ratio of 1.8 on the season and
owns the team lead with 13 steals.
Little Registers New Career Best:
Sophomore guard Howard Little
became the fifth different player to lead Valpo in scoring in its first
six games and the seventh different Crusader to reach double figures at
Cleveland State last Tuesday. Little knocked down a career-high six
field goals en route to a new career-best 14 points, 12 of which came
in the second half. The sophomore is currently third on the team in
scoring (8.4 ppg) after putting up a team-high 11 points last time out
against IPFW and second in rebounding (5.0 rpg)
Rogers Produces Night After Night:
Sophomore guard Michael
Rogers has stepped into a regular starting role this year after
starting each of the last nine games of the season as a freshman. The
6’5” Jamaican is currently second on the team in scoring, averaging 9.6
ppg, and has scored at least eight points in seven of Valpo’s eight
games. He also has been a force on the boards, currently ranking third
on the Crusaders with 4.8 rpg.
Valpo senior guard Brandon McPherson is the
only Crusader not to see playing time yet this season as he continues
to recuperate from offseason surgery. McPherson averaged double
figures in scoring for the second straight year last season, putting up
10.1 points per game, and currently ranks ninth in Valpo history in
3-point percentage and 17th in assists.