Thursday, January 12, 2012
Valparaiso (10-7, 3-2 Horizon)
Game #18: Friday, Jan. 13 - 7:05 p.m.
Youngstown State (9-6, 4-1 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso begins its only home Horizon League weekend this month on Friday evening as the Crusaders welcome Youngstown State to the ARC. Valpo has defeated the Penguins 13 consecutive times, including nine straight as Horizon League foes.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso’s bid for a third consecutive victory was denied Sunday afternoon despite a two-point halftime lead, as Wright State out-scored the Crusaders by 20 points in the second half as Valpo fell 73-55 to the Raiders in Dayton, Ohio. Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk each scored 11 first-half points to help stake the Crusaders to a 33-31 lead at the break, but WSU held Valpo to just 22 second-half points. Broekhoff led the Crusaders with 18 points and a career high-tying 14 rebounds.
Following the Crusaders: Every game this season will be available on the Valpo Sports Radio Network, with Friday's game broadcast live on WAKE (1500 AM, Valparaiso) and WJOB (1230 AM, Hammond). Todd Ickow is back for his 20th season on play-by-play, while Keaton Gillogly will join him on color commentary Friday. As always with every home game, there will be a live free video webcast through the Horizon League Network as well. Links to the live audio and video webcasts, as well as a link to live statistics and the Valpo Gameday page, will also be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew made his head coaching debut at Arizona on Nov. 7, as he was named the 21st head coach in the history of the Valparaiso men’s basketball program on May 17, 2011. Just the fourth new head coach to grace the Crusader sidelines in the last 31 years, Drew had spent the last six seasons as a member of the Crusader coaching staff before earning the head position. He famously hit the game-winning shot against Ole Miss for Valpo in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament to cap an illustrious Crusader career, before going on to a seven-year professional career, six of which were spent in the NBA.
Series Notes: The Crusaders have dominated the all-time series with the Penguins, taking the last 13 meetings and owning a 25-7 advantage overall, including a 16-1 mark at the ARC. Last season, Valpo swept all three games with YSU, including a first-round HL Championship matchup. Brandon Wood averaged 22.7 ppg in the three wins last year, including his first career double-double in the tournament game.
The Road Ahead: Valpo continues its home weekend with a Sunday afternoon matinee, as the Crusaders host Cleveland State. The following weekend brings a pair of short road trips when Valpo travels to Chicago twice to face Loyola (Jan. 19) and UIC (Jan. 21).
Scouting Youngstown State: Entering this weekend, the Penguins owned a 9-6 overall record and were one of three teams sitting atop the Horizon League
standings at 4-1. YSU averages 67.6 ppg both overall and in league play only, and has heavily leaned on its starting lineup in Horizon League action, as the bench has played just an average of 32.6 minutes per game in league play. All five Penguin starters are scoring in double figures in league action, led by Ashen Ward at 14.6 ppg, thanks to a 59.1% clip from 3-point range. Kendrick Perry paces the squad overall on the season with 14.9 ppg, while Damian Eargle grabs a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game.
An Unusual Result: Valpo’s 73-55 loss at Wright State last time out was an abnormal result for the Crusaders, both this season and in their history in Horizon League play. It marked the Crusaders’ second-worst loss of the season, behind only Valpo’s defeat at Wright State, and in fact was just the second time the Crusaders have lost by even 10 points this year. Within league play, Valpo has only had three losses by a larger margin since joining the Horizon League prior to the 2007-2008 campaign.
Right Down to the Wire: Valpo’s game Sunday at Wright State was an anamoly with the way the Crusaders’ games have gone lately. Valpo's players have gained a lot of experience in how to play the final minutes of tight games, as over the last eight contests, five of them have been decided by three points or less. The Crusaders are 3-2 in the close games over that stretch, including wins in each of the last two. In fact, Valpo's four Horizon League games prior to the Wright State game were decided by two, three and two points, with the other game a six-point win in overtime.
To 3 Or Not to 3: An up-and-down season from behind the 3-point line continued in the Crusaders’ loss to Wright State, as Valpo went just 3-of-16 from behind the arc against the Raiders. On the flip side, two days earlier in the win over Detroit, Valpo went 8-for-20 as a team, thanks to seven triples from Will Bogan. Seven times this year now, Valpo has hit at least eight triples, including four of the last seven games. But the Crusaders have also had four games in which they've hit three or fewer 3-pointers, including two of the last four.
Proficiency Inside the Arc: Valparaiso’s success shooting from 2-point range has carried over into the 2011-2012 season. Last season, the Crusaders finished the year hitting 55.3% of their 2-point attempts, good for third nationally. So far this year, Valpo has connected at an even better clip from inside, knocking down 57.0% of its tries from inside the arc, good for second in the nation in the category. In fact, of Valpo’s nine scholarship players who have played the majority of the season, seven are hitting at least half of their 2-point attempts. Against Wright State, the Crusaders shot at least 50% from inside the arc for the 14th time in their 17 games, hitting 16-of-31 of their 2-point attempts.
Valpo Tabbed Fifth in Preseason Poll: Valparaiso was picked to finish in fifth place in the Horizon League preseason poll conducted of the league’s coaches, sports information directors, and media members. The Crusaders tallied 255 points in the polling. Preseason league favorite Butler received 28 of the 50 first-place votes, while Detroit was picked second and received 19 first-place votes. Cleveland State (2 first-place votes) and Milwaukee (1 first-place vote) were chosen third and fourth ahead of the Crusaders, while Green Bay was just behind Valpo in sixth position. Youngstown State, Wright State, Loyola and UIC rounded out the polling in order.
A Look Back at 2010-2011: Valparaiso is coming off of its tenth postseason appearance in the last 16 seasons, having earned a berth into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) last season. The Crusaders won 23 total games in 2010-2011, their greatest number of victories since the 2001-2002 season. Valpo also went 12-6 in Horizon League, posting its best record in league play since entering the HL and finishing just one game out of a share of the regular season title.
A Lot to Replace: The Crusaders had a lot of production to replace entering the 2011-2012 season, as they lost 60.5% of their scoring from last year’s squad, as well as more than 40% of their rebounding, assists and steals from a season ago. Cory Johnson (Second Team All-HL in 2009-2010; 14.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Howard Little (Valpo’s all-time leader in games played and eighth all-time in steals; 9.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG) and Michael Rogers (5.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG) all were graduating seniors on last year’s team, while Brandon Wood (Two-time All-HL honoree, First Team honoree in 2010-2011; 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG) graduated following his junior season of eligibility and transferred to Michigan State.
Home Court Advantage: This weekend returns the Crusaders to their home court, a place where they have excelled in the past. With 15 regular season home games slated for the ARC this year, Valparaiso has plenty of opportunities to utilize its home court advantage. With the win over Green Bay Dec. 31, the Crusaders are now 6-2 at home this year and now own a 252-112 (.692) all-time record at the ARC, including a 199-47 (.809) mark over the last 18-plus years at home. The Crusaders have also finished above .500 on their home court in each of the last 18 years.
High-Scoring Coaching Staff: Valparaiso boasts the third-highest scoring coaching staff in Division I basketball, as judged by points scored by the core four coaches at the Division I level. Head coach Bryce Drew scored 2,142 points at Valpo, while assistant coach Jake Diebler scored 826 points as a Crusader. Assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. added 1,178 points during his time at Illinois. Valpo’s total of 4,146 Division I points trails just Tennessee and Auburn.
Shots From the Heart: Both Valpo head coach Bryce Drew and assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. are participating in the 2nd Annual Shots From the Heart Tournament, in benefit of the Skip Prosser Foundation. The tournament was started last year to help create more awareness for the growing problem of heart disease, and consists of two 64-coach fields (one bracket of head coaches and one bracket of assistant coaches) participating in a free throw shooting contest. Drew was eliminated in the second round, while Powell has advanced to a third-round matchup against Wake Forest’s Rusty LaRue, having defeated Mike Blaine (Cornell) and James Whitford (Arizona).
A Lonely Banner: Each year’s senior class has banners hung inside the ARC during their senior season, but this season, there is just one men’s basketball banner hanging from the rafters. Walk-on guard Nick Shelton started the season as the lone member of this year’s senior class, as fellow senior walk-on Nathan Stegelmann was added to the roster in mid-November.
Calling All Captains: With no scholarship seniors on this year’s squad, Valpo looks to a trio of juniors to lead the way as the captains for the 2011-2012 team. Ryan Broekhoff, Erik Buggs and Matt Kenney will share the captaincy this season.
A Little Longer Bench: For the first time this season, Valparaiso was able to dress and play 10 scholarship players Dec. 17 against Oakland. The Crusaders, who have dressed as few as eight scholarship players this season and played as few as seven, gained the services of Virginia Tech transfer Ben Boggs for the first time, as he became eligible at the end of Valpo’s fall semester. Valpo is still without scholarship players Bobby Capobianco, who must sit out the entire season after transferring to Valpo from Indiana, and Vashil Fernandez, who will be sitting out this season.
Getting Defensive: Valpo surrendered just 38 points to Holy Cross on Nov. 14, holding the Saints to just 23.3% shooting from the floor. The 38 points allowed was the least by a Crusader squad since Valpo pulled out a 35-33 nailbiter against Green Bay on Jan. 21, 1984.
Model of Consistency: Junior Ryan Broekhoff has simply been one of the Horizon League’s best and most versatile players through the first two months of the season. Last time out at Wright State, Broekhoff picked up yet another double-double, matching his career high
with 14 rebounds to go with 18 points. Broekhoff, who ranks among the team's top-three in all five major stats, now has eight double-doubles on the season, easily pacing the Horizon League and more than the entire Valpo team has had in a single season since 2006-2007, when Urule Igbavboa registered 10 double-doubles. Broekhoff also enters the week as the Horizon League leader in both scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg), trying to become the first player since Youngstown State's Quin Humphrey (2005-2006) to lead the league in both categories in the same season.
Van Wijk Does Work: Junior Kevin Van Wijk again hit at least half his shot attempts in Sunday’s game at Wright State, going 5-of-9 from the floor en route to 13 points. The junior, who ranks fourth in the league with a scoring average of 15.0 ppg on the season, has also been a consistent scorer, reaching double figures in 14 of his 16 games and scoring at least 13 points in eight of the last nine. Van Wijk also easily leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage, hitting at a 62.0% clip from the floor this year, which also ranks 12th nationally. In addition, the junior continues to get to the free throw line at an impressive rate, as his free throw rate of 93.79 (129 FGA, 121 FTA) is good for sixth in the nation.
Bogan Goes Bananas: Redshirt junior Will Bogan had a shooting performance last Friday at Detroit which reminded head coach Bryce Drew of Michael Jordan's shooting in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals against Portland. Bogan connected on his first six field goal attempts, including five 3-pointers, before missing a last-second 3-point effort going into the half. The Ole Miss transfer then knocked down both his 3-point tries in the first six minutes of the second half, finishing the night 7-of-8 from behind the arc. Bogan, who set a new career high with 23 points, was the first Valpo player to hit seven 3-pointers since Brandon Wood canned seven treys against the Titans in HL quarterfinal action last year.