Sunday, January 04, 2009
The Matchup: Valparaiso continues Horizon League action
tonight, traveling to Milwaukee to take on the Panthers. The Crusaders
enter the game at 1-2 in league play, while Milwaukee sits atop the
standings at 4-0.
Series History: The Crusaders maintained an 8-6 lead in
the all-time series against the Panthers with a split of their two
matchups last year, including a 66-57 victory in their last meeting on
Feb. 25, 2008 in Milwaukee. Valpo held the Panthers to just four
first-half field goals in the winning effort. Brandon McPherson led
the Crusaders with 17 points in 30 minutes of action off the bench,
including four 3-pointers. Jarryd Loyd added 12 points, while Shawn
Huff scored 11 on 4-of-5 shooting.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso’s second unit sparked a 19-3 run
midway through the first half to rally the Crusaders from an early
deficit and put them in position for a halftime tie, but #25/RV Butler
came out of the break on a 19-4 run and went on to post a 75-62 victory
over Valpo Saturday evening at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Senior
guard Brandon McPherson, who had played just three games all season due
to injury prior to tonight, led the Crusaders with an inspired effort
off the bench, going for 22 points in just 23 minutes of action.
Senior forward Urule Igbavboa added 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and
also grabbed seven rebounds.
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. Live audio will also be available online at
www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats and
Closing Out a Challenging Stretch: Valparaiso’s game against
#25/RV Butler on Saturday closed out one of the toughest stretches of
games in Crusader basketball history. The Crusaders played five games
in four different locales in a 14-day span, including games against
three ranked opponents in #1/1 North Carolina, #10/15 Purdue and the
aforementioned Bulldogs. Only the 2006-07 squad, which took on #8/9
Marquette, #19/18 Butler and #3/1 Ohio State in a six-day span, faced
three ranked opponents closer together.
Key Week: Following tonight’s tilt against Milwaukee, the
Crusaders return home to close out three Horizon League games in a
six-day period. Valpo hosts Detroit on Thursday and Wright State on
Saturday, a homestand that the Crusaders swept on the final weekend of
regular season play last season.
No Drama Here: Very rarely this season have Valpo’s games
gone down to the wire. Last year, 21 of the Crusaders’ 36 contests
were decided by single digits, but so far this year, only two of their
14 games have been nine-point spreads or less. Valpo has not played a
single-digit game since its 75-70 overtime loss to La Salle in the
Spreading Out the Scoring: The Crusaders have had a
variety of different players contribute in the scoring column during
the non-league season. Six different players are averaging between 6.4
and 11.4 points per game for Valpo in its first ten games. In
addition, nine 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.
National Audience Awaits Valpo: After appearing on national
television seven times during the 2007-08 campaign, Valparaiso will
make at least three nationally televised appearances during the 2008-09
season. On Dec. 20, Valpo was featured on ESPNU in a showdown with
top-ranked North Carolina. The Crusaders’ contest at Purdue Dec. 28
was broadcast on the Big Ten Network, while their Jan. 30 league tilt
at Butler will be carried on ESPNU.
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.
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.
Igbavboa Leads the Way: Preseason Second Team All-Horizon
League selection Urule Igbavboa has led the way for the Crusaders in
the early stages of the 2008-09 campaign, pacing the team in both
scoring (11.4 ppg) and rebounding (5.2 rpg). The senior is just 37
points shy of reaching the 1,000 point milestone for his career and
also ranks 12th in program history in rebounding, having surpassed 600
caroms for his career last time out.
McPherson Hits 20+ Again: Senior guard Brandon McPherson
reached the 20-point plateau for the sixth time in his career last time
out against #25/RV Butler. After scoring just 16 points combined in
his first three games of the season in his return from offseason
surgery, McPherson connected on six of ten field goal attempts and
knocked down seven free throws for his team-high 22 points.
Next Year’s Newcomers: Valparaiso has signed a quintet of
players who will join the program for the 2009-2010 season, four of
whom are freshmen and one junior college transfer. The five newcomers
- Ryan Broekhoff, a 6’6” guard from Frankston, Victoria,
Australia. Broekhoff was named Australian Junior National Male Player
of the Year earlier this year and was the MVP of the U20 Australian
- Chris Halvorsen, a 6’8” forward out of Henry Sibley [Minn.] H.S.
Halvorsen helped lead the Warriors to a state championship appearance
last year and was selected to the All-Tournament Team. He also has
twice earned All-Conference honors.
- Matt Kenney, a 6’3” guard out of Mooresville [Ind.] H.S. Kenney
was an honorable mention All-State honoree last year, while also
earning All-Indianapolis Metro West First Team accolades and
- Tommy Kurth, a 6’1” guard out of Penn [Ind.] H.S. Kurth was also
an honorable mention All-State honoree last year and has been ranked as
the #54 point guard in the Class of 2009 by ESPN.com. He has been
among the top-25 scorers in the area the last two years.
- Brandon Wood, a 6’3” guard from Kokomo, Ind. Wood is playing
this year at Highland [Ill.] C.C. after playing just six games last
year at Southern Illinois. A former Indiana All-Star, he is projected
as the top incoming point guard in the Horizon League next year by