Cuts and Shaves Barber Shop

Cuts and Shaves Barber Shop
1050 Broadway in Chesterton, Indiana 46304

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wood to test NBA waters

Another article from the Post,
Brandon Wood will apparently declare for the NBA draft but not hire an agent.  This leaves open the possibility to return to VU in the fall.  I fully suspect him to return.

I understand Brandon's thought process here.  Get to the NBA, make some money, and live out a boyhood dream.  I'd love to see him succeed at the NBA as that would greatly benefit the VU recruiting process.  With that said, I fully believe he will return to the Crusaders for his final year of eligibility after these few workouts he attends.  Wood had a breakout year this past season for the Crusaders on the offensive end.  However, when I look at Brandon Wood and look at other NBA players.  Brandon is a bit undersized for an NBA shooting guard at 6'2''.  Wood also hasn't shown the ability to consistantly create his own open shot off the dribble.  His defense is probably a bit above average, but does anybody outside of the Bulls really play defense in the NBA?  Lets take a look at another college player entering the draft who is of similar size and plays the same position in E'twaun Moore of Purdue.  Mock Drafts don't even have Moore being drafted in the first two rounds.  Does anyone put Wood ahead of Moore? 

Here's to hoping Brandon comes back, leads Valpo to a good postseason run in 2011-2012, and improves his draft odds that way.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More success for Butler=more money for Horizon League teams

Come on Bulldogs!  That is what every team in the Horizon League should be saying.  The further the Bulldogs advance the more money they will earn for their fellow conference teams.  The attached article,,  does a nice job explaining how the system works.  The more games (units) your conference plays in during a NCAA tournament the more money they earn for their conference teams.  Apparently, these units are paid out for 6 years.  So, since Butler went to the finals last year they earned the league 5 units.  The Horizon League will get paid for those 5 units for 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014, and 2015.  Add to those 5 units at least another 4 from what the Bulldogs have done this year, and the teams in the HL should be getting nice little bonus check for years to come. 

Lets hope Butler's run will inspire the people who put the field of 68 together to consider more mid-major programs.  Also, lets hope that the extra money earned by Butler for the teams in the HL can be put to good use in the form of recruiting or updated facilities.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Returning Crusaders

The Crusaders graduated three players from their 2010-2011 team that saw the team go 23-12 (12-6 in Horizon League play), win the Lou Henson Award Tournament, and lose in the first round of the postseason CIT.  Unfortunately for Valpo, the three seniors they are losing were all played substantial roles. 

Cory Johnson started all 34 games he played in and was second on the team in scoring average at a little over 14ppg.  Besides his scoring effectiveness, he also would have to defend the opponents biggest guys in the paint.  Howard Little started all 35 games this past season for Valpo (the only guy to achieve this feat).  Little averaged just under 10ppg and was the teams leader in offensive rebounds (quite a feat considering he stands 6-3 and was usually giving up 4-5 inches to bigger guys inside).  Little's ability to work the baseline on offense and position himself for those key offensive rebounds will be difficult to replace.  Michael Rogers was the Crusader's sixth man this season.  His acceptance of this role after being a starter in previous years was a huge help for Valpo.  Often part of a double team that would take on the opponents inside scorer, Rogers defensive tenacity will be missed.

With those guys gone, lets take a look at who is coming back to suit up for Coach Drew.  The Crusaders will have returning starters Ryan Broekhoff (6-6 G), Brandon Wood (6-2 G), and Erik Buggs (5-10 G).  Also returning for Valpo will be Hrvoje Vucic (7-1 C), Cameron Witt (6-8 F), Nick Shelton (5-11 G), Jay Harris (6-1 G), Matt Kenney (6-3 G), and Kevin Van Wijk (6-8 F).  The Crusaders have 3 recruits already signed (all guards I believe) and have one remaining scholarship to hand out.  With the returning players Valpo has some outstanding shooters in Broekhoff, Wood, and Harris, a nice inside presence in Van Wijk, and some very good on the ball defenders in Buggs and Kenney.  I would like to see the Crusaders find another inside scoring presence with their final scholarship.

With all these guards who can shoot and slash, and without very many options inside we might see a Valpo offense that spreads out the defense.  This could be a team that lives and dies by the long ball.  Right now, I see the keys to a successful run next year being the ability to hit outside shots, get to the free throw line, defend the opponent's inside players, and rebound (being undersized this could be a trouble area).  These returning players have shown the ability this past season to be able to accomplish all of these things, so there is no reason to expect they can't build off of this year's successes.

Later in the spring/summer we'll take a look at the incoming recruits once all four scholarships have been given out as well as a closer look at each individual player.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Butler at it again!

Congratulations to the Butler Bulldogs and their fans!  After a crazy weekend of basketball in the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs used the last second heroics of Matt Howard in both games to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.  Read about last night's thriller here

What a game offensively by Shelvin Mack (30 points).  There was a lot of controversy about the calls in the last few seconds of this game.  In my opinion, both foul calls were correct as there appeared to be plenty of contact.  Judge for yourself:

Butler will now travel to New Orleans to take on the #4 seed Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday.  The winner of their game will play the winner of #3 BYU and #2 Florida.  Good luck Butler, keep making the teams of the Horizon League proud!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Game Recap: This is the face of disappointment...

I wish I could say the results of the game last night surprised me.  VU looked unprepared on both sides of the ball.  The Iona zone defense frustrated Valpo, our guards didn't stay in front of anyone when we went on the defensive, everybody on the team seemed to be dribbling the ball to the corner and getting trapped, and I thought I was going to go crazy watching as pass after pass went out of bounds or was thrown away due to Crusaders jumping to pass the ball almost every time it seemed.

VU started in a zone defense and after the first 10 minutes Iona had 26 points on the board and they weren't missing any of their shots (granted most of them were pretty good looks).  Valpo finally went man and stopped them a few times in a row, but anytime Valpo got within 6 points Iona would score and take the momentum back.  For the game, Iona shot 58% from the field and 47% from behind the arc.  I also think they must have gotten 4th rate officials for this 4th rate tournament, because these guys were aweful.  Not calling fouls (I know they let um play in a tournament, but there were some blatants ones not called), not calling travels, they blew many calls both for and against Valpo (by no means am I blaming the refs, I think Valpo got more calls then went against them).  It seemed like the refs and the VU players were just going through the motions.  Very disappointing.

One bright spot from this game: Jay Harris.  I've been a big Jay Harris critic this year as he has made bad turnovers on numerous occassion or made poor shot decisions.  Harris shot 7-14 from the field and ended up with a game high 20 points.  The last few games Harris had played some good basketball and he is one guy I'm looking forward to seeing return next season for the Crusaders.

Well, the season is over, but continue checking back.  Watch for returning player information, a little Crusader history, and anything else that might pop up that is related to VU or Horizon League basketball.  Hopefully we will be following Butler and Cleveland State for a couple more weeks as they make their way through their respective post season tournaments.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Post Season Horizon League Action: 1-0

Cleveland State got the Horizon League off to a great start with a 63-60 first round victory over Vermont.  Tonight, the Horizon League will have two teams in action as Milwaukee will take on Northwestern from the Big Ten in NIT first round action and Valparaiso will host Iona of MAAC in a first round CIT matchup.  Butler will face Old Dominion on Thursday out in Washington DC in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Cheer on all of the Horizon League teams battling in their respective postseason tournaments.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CIT Round 1 Preview: Valparaiso vs. Iona

The CIT is definately an odd tournament, well, maybe not odd maybe I just don't understand it.  While I haven't seen any official rankings for this teams involved in this tournament, the round 1 matchup of Iona and Valparaiso could be seen as the #1 team visiting the #3 team.  Taking the average of the RPI, KenPom, and Saragin for each team would have them ranked as follows.  I think next year, instead of scheduling teams like PNC and IUN at the beginning of the year, Valpo should consider scheduling North Dakota and Tennessee Tech (to help strengthen their schedule and RPI) but that is another topic for another day.

Rank   Team (Record)   RPI   KenPom   Saragin   Average
1   Iona (22-11)   68   60   79   69
2   Marshall (22-11)   54   80   78   70.67
3   Valparaiso (23-11)   70   105   90   88.33
4   Portland (20-11)   101   103   98   100.67
5   Rider (23-10)   105   107   100   104
6   East Tennessee State (22-11)   91   112   112   105
7   Air Force (15-15)   110   113   109   110.67
8   East Carolina (18-15)   96   136   121   117.67
9   Northern Iowa (19-13)   112   129   119   120
10   Oral Roberts (19-15)   129   132   137   132.67
11   Furman (22-10)   116   154   130   133.33
12   San Francisco (17-14)   120   145   140   135
13   Idaho (18-13)   136   135   145   138.67
14   Buffalo (18-13)   165   119   136   140
15   Northern Arizona (19-12)   151   127   143   140.33
16   Santa Clara (19-14)   158   149   148   151.67
17   Quinnipiac (22-9)   144   166   158   156
18   Hawaii (18-12)   160   155   157   157.33
19   Jacksonville (19-11)   142   176   154   157.33
20   Ohio (18-15)   163   157   161   160.33
21   Western Michigan (20-12)   173   165   167   168.33
22   SMU (17-14)   206   146   178   176.67
23   Tennessee Tech (20-12)   190   204   209   201
24   North Dakota (19-14)   271   305   301   292.33

Anyways, onto the game at hand:
Having this game at the ARC (with a very supporting student section, right) is a huge benefit to the Crusaders.  Iona was 11-2 on their home court and only 11-9 away from home.  Valpo was 13-3 at home and 10-8 away from the ARC.  Paying for this home game should prove to be a good move.  As previously posted, Valpo and Coach Drew will have to draw up a scheme to stop a big man inside with Gael forward Mike Glover (18 ppg, 10 rpg).  The Crusaders have had success this year in slowing down big men with their intense double teams usually coming in the form of Cory Johnson/Kevin Van Wijk double teaming with Ryan Broekhoff/Michael Rogers.  These double teams have been successful in the past against the likes of JuJuan Johnson of Purdue (6 turnovers), Nick Minnerath of Detroit (4 pts in 32 minutes), and Kyle Weems of Missouri State (7-21 shooting) to name just a few.

Both teams should be very well rested.  The Crusaders haven't seen game action since March 5 when they lost in the Horizon League semi-finals to top seeded Milwaukee, while the Gaels haven't played since March 7 when they fell to St. Peter's in their MAAC finale.  The rest should really benefit the Crusaders who had been played 10 games in 23 days.

For Valpo, Brandon Wood (pictured with Cory Johnson) was red hot at the end of the year, leading the team in scoring the last three games with 20, 30, and 24 points.  For Valpo to win this game, they will need someone to step up and help him in the offense.  Broekhoff needs to find his outside shooting touch when seems to have gone missing ever since his 5-6 effort from the arc in a game at Green Bay.  That span of five games has seen Broekhoff go 3-18 from downtown.  Cory Johnson is the other big scoring threat that could step up for VU.  Johnson has had some monster games this season, while a monster offensive effort shouldn't be required to advance, a 15 point 6 rebound game would be helpful.  Lately, it's been Johnson's lack of being able to play defense without fouling that has hurt him and his team lately.  Two of the Crusader's three guys mentioned above need to have solid games Wednesday night to defeat Iona.

The play of the benches could be a key as well.  The Iona Gaels have 6 guys that average over 20 minutes a game.  Noone else averages more then 10.  The Crusaders will have to take note when Sean Armand enters the game.  He only averages 9 minutes a game, but he shoots it 40% from the arc and must shoot it a lot when he is in the game (45-113 shooting from range).  Valpo has 9 guys that average over 13 minutes a game.  Six of those guys average over 23 minutes a game.  That depth allows the Crusaders to keep guys fresh during the game while keeping quality players on the court at all times.

Prediction:  Valpo takes their first ever postseason tournament home game 81-70.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Getting to know the Iona Gaels

The Iona Gaels will be the Valparaiso Crusader's first round opponent in the CIT tournament this Wednesday night.  If you are like me, you've heard of Iona but don't know much about them.  My first question was "What in the world is a Gael?"  Naturally I went to the most reliable source, Wikipedia, and found that a Gael is a speaker of one of the Goidelic languages: Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, and Manx. 

Iona is located in New York and compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.  The team representing this conference in the NCAA tournament is St. Peter's a 14 seed who will take on Purdue in the opening round.  Now on to the important aspects of the Iona Gaels, their team.

Iona defeated two NCAA tournament teams in St. Peters (twice) and Richmond.  Iona is a streaking team having won 9 of their last 10 games.  Some of the players to watch on the Gaels are Mike Glover (18 ppg, 10 rpg), Scott Machado (13 ppg), and Kyle Smythe (10 ppg, leading 3pt shooter). As a team they rebound well, force a lot of turnovers, and can put up points (79 points per game team average).  Head Coach Tim Cluess is in his first year as the Gael head man.

What Valpo needs to do to win, the game preview, and prediction coming up later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Valpo to host Iona in CIT

Waiting, hitting refresh, and then....disappointment...for now.  Valpo will host Iona in the first round the CIT tournament this Wednesday at 7pm.  While we were holding out hope for an NIT birth, a late season slump and failing to defeat Milwaukee in the Horizon League tournament semi-finals has led to this. 

Before we get to the game preview, lets first find out what in the world the CIT is.  The CIT tournament is put on by Basketball Tournament.  2011 is the third year of the CIT tournament and will feature 24 teams.  With the addition of the CIT and the expansion of the NCAA field there are now 136 D-1 schools that participate in a postseason tournament.  All of the CIT games are played at campus sites.  Teams are seeded with the high seeds being the host schools. 

While I haven't seen the seedings for the 24 teams, doing a little research I've come across too very different numbers in how much it cost to host a CIT tournament game ($30,500-$50,000) to host a game (the CBI was more expensive, and I'm just assuming could be the reason VU went with the CIT).  Valpo is obvsiouly not in it to make money since they averaged just under 3500 fans per game.  Students will get in free for the game Wednesday night while the rest of us will be charged $10 a ticket.  Clearly, Valpo will lost some money on this, so they must expect the team to go far and for this to somehow help their recruiting effort in the future.

Besides Valpo and Iona the rest of the 22 teams competing in the CIT are: Buffalo @ Quinnipiac (?), Ohio @ Marshall, Jacksonville @ East Carolina, Rider (?) @ Northern Iowa, North Dakota @ Air Force, Northern Arizona @ Santa Clara, Portland @ Hawaii, Tennessee Tech @ Western Michigan, Oral Roberts @ SMU, and Idaho @ San Fransisco.  Just looking at the names, I have to say, I like Valpo's odds at making a long run in this tournament.  I'm not sure a CIT Championship would be ARC banner worthy (maybe the Hilltop Gym), but it will be nice to see the three seniors play a few more games and to add a trophy to the case.

VU's Postseason Hopes

Today is the day we've been waiting for!  The day we find out if Valpo will make the field of 32 for the NIT tournament or if their late season slump will send them to the CBI (College Basketball Invitational).  Valpo wants a home game and I just don't see them getting any of the top four seeds in the NIT draw.  In fact, I don't see them getting picked for the NIT at all.  I think the more likely senario puts the Crusaders in the CBI tournament with teams like Northern Iowa, Weber St., St. Bonaventure, and Miami (Ohio). 

Valpo wants a home game.  They believe, and I do too, that they could make a run at the CBI championship.  According to this article from the Post Tribune,, it will cost Valpo $60,000 to host a CBI game.  I suppose a lot of that money goes to their opponent.  Valpo appears willing and able to pay that lofty sum to get their team on the right track.  Valpo averaged only 3,480 fans per home game.  I'm not sure what the ticket prices are for the CBI tournament, but if they are similar to that of the Horizon League touranment game that Valpo hosted it will be tough to cover the $60,000.  A long run in this tournament would certainly justify spending that extra money.

While this fan would rather see the Crusaders play in the more prestigous NIT event, I wouldn't mind seeing Cory Johnson, Howard Little, and Michael Rogers play in the ARC one last time if the Crusaders do enter the CBI.

Some other Horizon League teams waiting to see where their postseason will lead include Butler (NCAA), Milwaukee (NIT), Cleveland State (NIT), Detroit (CBI/CIT), and Wright State (CBI/CIT).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Brandon Wood racking up the awards

Valparaiso guard Brandon Wood continues to rack in the awards for his stellar play this season.  Wood was named to the Horizon League first team, the All Tournament Team, and has been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 12 First Team (  Wood has had an outstanding junior year offensively and will look to lead the Crusaders to postseason success.  Valpo should learn their postseason fate Sunday night when the NIT announces the 32 teams that will compete in their tournament.

Butler is back baby!

Butler used some stiff defense in the first half, survived a furious comeback, then put away the Milwaukee Panthers for good 59-44 to earn the Horizon League's automatic bid into the NCAA field of 68.  Butler held the Panthers to 4-19 from the field in the first half, Matt Howard of the Bulldogs was 4-5 from the field in the first half by himself.  Anthony Hill was held relatively silent scoring only 10 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

Butler will most likely be seeded between 11-13 in the NCAA tournament, while Milwaukee will be heading to the NIT and learn their seed Sunday evening.  Other Horizon League teams awaiting to learn their fate Sunday evening include Cleveland State (possibly an at large, most likely an NIT) and Valparaiso (NIT). 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Horizon League Championship

Lets take a look ahead to Tuesday night's matchup pitting top seeded Milwaukee against 2nd seeded Butler.  It is hard to ignore Butler's success from years past and think that Milwaukee has any kind of chance in this big game.  Butler has now made the championship round  the last 6 years.  This is Milwaukee's first visit since 2006, when they defeated Butler. 

In the two regular season matchups, Milwaukee has had little trouble handling the Bulldog attack.  With victories of 6 in OT at Butler and 24 points at home you have to wonder what Coach Brad Stevens (pictured deep in thought) will do in the third matchup of the year.  The obvious answer is find a way to slow down Anthony Hill.  He has been a man amongst boys in the paint this season and if Butler can't find a way to contain him they could be in trouble.  The Panthers shoot the ball well enough from the outside that it is hard to justify running double teams at Hill, who is a decent enough passer to find the open man. Can Matt Howard or Andrew Smith stay out of foul trouble and keep Hill in check?  I thought in the semi final round that Valparaiso had it's best success when Michael Rogers was on Hill, you may see a Khyle Marshall getting an opportunity to try and slow down the big man for Milwaukee. 

Besides defending Hill, Howard's three point shooting is the other big thing I'll be watching.  I think Butler can get Hill in foul trouble by attacking him, either with Howard on some dribble penetration or with Smith on the inside.  If Howard can make Hill (assuming he defends Howard) come out on the defense that will open the paint for Smith to go to work or Vanzant and Mack for some drives the cup. 

Prediction:  Butler finds a way and wins the big game 77-71.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Game Recap: Hill to big to climb

Clever huh?  Anthony Hill proved to be too much for the Crusaders to handle on this night.  The Panther big man had a nice night scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 boards.  Hill was 7-11 from the field and an impressive 10-13 from the charity stripe. Perhaps the biggest impact he had was getting the Crusaders in foul trouble early and often.  The first half saw 12 fouls called on VU and 5 called on Milwaukee. 

Valpo managed to hang around and keep the game interesting pulling the game to within 4 at the 2:00 mark.  Unfortunately, playing all these games over the past two weeks seem to have taken their toll as the Crusader's couldn't find their shooting touch.  Anytime Valpo tried to make a run it was answered by a Panther three pointer or inside hoop.  This brings me to my biggest gripe of the game: the announcers for ESPN were bad.  Seemed every shot Milwaukee hit between the 12 minute mark and the 10 minute mark were daggers.  The lead wasn't even in double digits, but these made shots were daggers.  Give me a break. 

Back to the game, Brandon Wood again led the team with 24 points on 9-19 shooting including 3-10 from behind the arc.  Valpo shot only 20% from behind the three point line, a far cry from their performance against Detroit.  Ryan Broekhoff didn't have his normal touch from the field shooting only 1-11 and 0-5 from distance (he did grab a team high 8 rebounds).  Cory Johnson was the only other Crusader in double figures with 14 points.  He was hampered by foul trouble limiting his playing time to only 19 minutes.  Other Crusaders limited with foul trouble where Howard Little and Kevin Van Wijk.  Coach Drew was apparently as frustrated with the calls as this fan was as he took a rare technical foul to make a point with the refs.

The loss marks the end of the season for the team.  They will now have to sit and wait to see where they will go for what will most likely be an invitation to the NIT tournament. 

Having won the game, Milwaukee will get the opportunity to host the Horizon League tournament championship on their home court against the Butler Bulldogs (who they beat twice in the regular season) who took care of business, for the third time this year, against Cleveland State.  Butler put four starters in double figures (Smith 12, Howard 14, Mack 15, and Vanzant 18).  The Bulldogs were able to withstand another solid performance from HL Player of the Year Norris Cole who finished with 24 points and 6 rebounds.  Cleveland State will wait and see if they can somehow pull of an at large bid, but I suspect that they too will be off to the NIT.  Read more about the semi-final games at the Horizon League website:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Game Preview: Conference Semi-Finals

Game one of today's Horizon League Tournament's semi-finals will pit the Butler Bulldogs against the Cleveland State Vikings.  CSU has had a fantastic year but the one team that seems to have their number is Butler.  In their two regular season matchups, Butler has had no problem disposing of the Vikings with victories of 23 at home and 12 on the road.  In both previous games, Butler's big guys Matt Howard and Andrew Smith have had real nice games.  If CSU wants to keep their hopes alive for the Horizon League's automatic bid they will have to do something to slow down those two big guys.  Offensively, look for Norris Cole and Jeremy Montgomery to get going early and often.  I look for Butler to win this game thanks to their fresh legs (they haven't played since last Saturday) and the depth of their bench.  For Cleveland Sate we'll see pretty quickly what kind of energy they have, 4 of the Vikings 5 starters played at least 30 minutes last night.
Prediction:  Butler wins 78-69 and Ronald Nored neutralizes Cole with his stellar defense.

Game two will feature the Valparaiso Crusaders against the tournaments number one seeded Milwaukee Panthers.  Both teams won their regular season home game with Valpo winning by 17 back on January 21 and Milwaukee winning by 3 on February 16.  Last night, Valpo was able to take down an athletic Detroit team behind a spectacular shooting performance from Brandon Wood.  Wood did log the most minutes of any Crusader with 31 minutes so we will see how that affects him this evening.  For Valpo to win they will need their bench to play some effective minutes and outplay Milwaukee's bench.  The Crusaders also need to get a handle on Tone Boyle and Anthony Hill.  Last time out Boyle went off with 28 points while Hill posted up with 18 points.  They make a real dangerous inside/outside combination.  Offensively, Valpo will need their outside shooting to stay hot, last night they set a league tournament record hitting 15 three pointers.  Getting some easy buckets inside and a solid effort from Cory Johnson/Kevin Van Wijk will be important in keeping the Panther defenders honest.

Prediction:  Valpo 75-70.  I'm looking for big nights from Matt Kenney and Kevin Van Wijk off the bench.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Game recap: Win and Advance!

Not all statistics are created equally.  Detroit had the better numbers when it came to points in the paint (40-26), points off turnovers (15-12), fast break points (19-8), and rebounds (40-36).  They also placed five players in double figures to Valpo's three.  Leading those statistical categories by those margins is typically enough for a victory, but this proved to be no typical game. 

The second half performance by Crusader all conference player Brandon Wood was one to remember.  With the Crusaders needing a spark, Wood put the team on his back and carried them to victory.  His 30 point performance, including 23 in the second half, led all scorers.  Wood shot an incredible 7-10 from behind the arc including 7-8 in the second half.  Wood went on one of his pattented hot streaks where he was nearly invincible.  It started about two minutes into the second half when he drained his first three of the night.  When Detroit refused to go away by making it a two point game with at the 3:43 mark on a Ray McCallum free throw the Crusaders again looked to Wood to save the day.  He lead Valpo on a 16-6 run with several more three pointers to close out the Titans and send the Crusaders to a semi-final date with tournament host Milwaukee.

Back to those statistics....Valpo did lead in several key areas.  The Crusaders had the edge is bench points (27-16) and three point shooting (56% - 29%).  I also mentioned in the game preview post about the playing time and how Valpo's depth would be a key.  Detroit played only 6 guys 10 minutes or more.  Valpo played 9 guys for at least 10 minutes tonight.  Running guys in and out and keeping legs fresh seemed to help as Valpo went on the decisive game ending run.  Detroit's season ends, probably sooner then they expected, but they will return the overwhelming majority of their team and should be one of the league leaders next season.

With tonight's victory Valparaiso will face off tomorrow night against the number one seeded Milwaukee Panthers.  More on that one later.  Watching the game with me this evening was fellow Valparaiso Alum Brent Gilles, and my good luck charm Bobblehead Homer (pictured below).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Game Preview: Valpo v. Detroit

The second game of the second round of the Horizon League Tournament will feature a struggling Valparaiso Crusader team against a hot Detroit Titans squad.  Detroit earned it's birth in the quarterfinals by destroying Loyola 90-69.  Detroit placed 6 of it's players in double figures.  Valparaiso built a large second half lead against Youngstown State then had to hold on as the Penguins made a furious comeback.  The final was 80-71.  Valpo was lead by Horizon League First Teamer Brandon Wood's 20 point 13 rebound performance. 

Previous Matchups:  Valpo swept the two regular season matchups, winning by 10 at Detroit and by 8 at home.  While being undersized, the Crusaders managed to take the edge over the Titans on the boards the last time out.  Keys that can be attributed to Valpo's success in the regular season against Detroit: at home they controlled the boards and Detroit big man Nick Minnerath, at Detroit the Crusaders guarded the three point line real well and the bench outscored the Detroit bence 33-12.

Win and Advance:  Detroit is playing well right now.  They are young team who seem to be learning to play together at the right time.  Valpo will need to play a complete 40 minutes of basketball.  The Crusaders need to take advantage of their deep bench.  Valpo should have 9 guys playing some substantial minutes, while Detroit will mostly likely stick to 7 players for the majority of the game.  The Crusaders must limit the number of second chances that the Titans get.  Detroit is a lot bigger then Valpo, so team rebounding will be key.  Valpo needs Cory Johnson to play like he is capable.  CJ4 has been struggling a little bit lately and now would be a perfect time to snap out of it. 

Predictions:  Brandon Wood and Ryan Broekhoff get hot from behind the arc early and pace the Crusaders with 23 and 19 points each.  Valpo takes it at the buzzer 83-81 on a Ryan Broekhoff jumper.

(Crusaders and students celebrate a previous victory over Butler, what I predict will be the scene Friday night after the Valpo Victory at the horn.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Round 1 Wrap Up

#3 Cleveland State 73 defeats #10 UIC 61:

#4 Valparaiso 80 defeats #9 Youngstown State 71:  see post below for more details

#5 Detroit 90 defeats #8 Loyola 69:

#6 Wrigth State 60 defeats #7 Green Bay 50:

Round 2 will feature #3 Cleveland State taking on #6 Wright State.  In their previous two matchups Cleveland State proved too much for WSU to handle winning by 19 at home and by 2 on the road.  Likewise in the #4 Valparaiso vs. #5 Detroit, Valparaiso won the two regular season games with an 8 point home win and a 10 point road win.  It is very tough to beat a team three times in one season, so I look for Friday's games to be very competitive.

Game Recap: Valpo vs. YSU

Survive and advance!  Valpo struggled during the first ten minutes of the game as Youngstown State simply out hustled the Crusaders up and down the court for some easy baskets.  The final ten minutes saw the Crusaders go on a nice run behind several turnovers from the Penguins and some easy buckets in transition to take a 44-35 half time lead.

The second half saw two different Valpo teams in action.  The "good" Valpo team showed up first and built a seemingly commanding 19 point lead at the 12:21 mark.  YSU struggled to get anything going offensively early on, but then rediscovered the instant offense of big man Damian Eargle.  Eargle (21 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots) helped lead the Penguins almost all the way back.  It was a two point game with 1:37 remaining in the contest.  That is when a jumper and three free throws by Brandon Wood (20 points and 13 rebounds) along with two Ryan Broekhoff freebies (9 points) helped Valpo close out the Penguins in round 1 of the Horizon League tournament.  Valpo will head north to Milwaukee for Friday's matchup against a very good Detroit team. 

Tonight the VU alumni association treated the fans to delicious pregame meal (pictured below)!