Cuts and Shaves Barber Shop

Cuts and Shaves Barber Shop
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Getting to know Erik Buggs

This past week, Valparaiso point guard Erik Buggs took some time after studying for his finals to answer a few questions for me.  This past season Erik took over the starting point guard role and was the floor general and defensive stopper for the Crusaders.  Buggs started 34 of the 35 games this season, led the team in rebounding in two games (Norther Colorado, Ball State), was tied for the team lead in assist per game (3.1), and had the highest assist to turnover ratio at 1.9.  Erik gives a little insight into what it takes to succeed at Valpo, the Iona game, his goals after college, and much more.  Lets get to the interview!

Hank Curry (HC): How do you feel about your performance this year as a whole?  Watching all your home games from the stands and on the internet when you guys were away it seemed to me that as the year progressed you slowly got a little more aggressive on the offensive end.  Not so much by taking more shots, but by attacking the rim.  Is this fair to say?  Did the coaches encourage you to shoot/attack more as the season wore on?

Erik Buggs (Buggsy): I am pretty pleased with our performance this year, I obviously am disappointed because of the run that Butler went on further strengthens my belief that we could have made a run in the Big Dance in March. I definitely tried to step up on offense towards the end of the year instead of being so passive, attacking only made our offense better for everyone.

Buggs on the attack
HC: What part of your game will be working on this Summer?  It is no secret that teams sagged pretty off of you, daring you to shoot.  Is it safe to assume that the mid-three point range jumper will be high on your agenda this Summer?  People argue that Valpo's biggest need this off season is to bring in a big guy that can play with his back to the rim, I think it is you becoming more of an offensive threat.  Thoughts?

Buggsy: Next year with guys leaving I definitely feel like I need to step it up more on offense. This year I was really passive and that’s not the type of player I usually am. Last year I was uncomfortable shooting with my first year being back, next year to make my teammates better I need to shoot so that I become a threat and it opens up the court for my teammates to make plays.

Buggs guarding Moore
 HC: You are the defensive stopper on the team.  I love watching you hound the opposing team's point guards and forcing them into bad passes or 5 second violations.  In my opinion it seems like defense is all desire.  What is your secret to being so successful on the defensive end?  Who was the tougher player you had to defend this year in a one on one?

Buggsy: Defense is all about heart and desire. I always take it personal when my guy scores on me or I miss a rotation assignment. I think me taking it personal makes my drive to play defense that much more intense, I also feel like I’m letting my teammates down when I give up points on defense. By far the best player I have defended this year would be Norris Cole, he just has a great feel for the game.

HC: At the end of the year the team went through a bit of a rough stretch of games.  After beating Missouri State (I felt this was the team's best performance of the year), you guys fell to Green Bay and then really took a beating at home versus Loyola.  Was it fatigue, poor execution, a combination of things?

Buggsy:  I think it was a combination of fatigue and guys being out injured. Mainly we just had an opportunity that we let slip through our fingers. Things like that happen in life though and you got to learn to bounce back from it. Experience always makes for a great lesson in life and this will be something that helps us for this upcoming year.

HC: Besides Valpo, what team(s) do you think will be at the top of the conference next year?  I hate to say it, but I'm picking Detroit to be the top seed this next season.

Buggsy: The great thing about the Horizon is that you have so many competitive teams. There is no question that once again Butler will be the hunted but every team has a chance to take the Horizon League.

HC: It was pretty disappointing when Valpo was passed over by the NIT and instead had to go into the CIT.  What was the attitude of the team when you guys learned you'd be hosting a CIT game?  Iona was a decent team, but watching the game from the stands it looked like you guys weren't prepared (I realize you only had a couple days to get ready) and really didn't have much desire.  Please tell me I'm wrong here!

Buggsy: We were quite prepared to take on Iona, it was just one of those games where we couldn’t seem to find the bucket and they couldn’t seem to miss. Its always disappointing expecting to be playing somewhere and not get what you were expecting.

HC: What kind of leadership role, on and off the court, will you look to assume next year?  You'll be one of the old vets next year so I'm sure you'll have the young guys looking to you for direction.

Buggsy: I sort of stepped into a leadership role last year and this year I will be in basically the same role. We have a lot of experience on this team so leadership won’t be lacking at all on this team.

HC: What is the most valuable information you could give to a player coming to Valpo for their first season regarding the team, Coach Drew, what do they need to have a better chance of succeeding at Valpo?

Buggsy: To have a good career at Valpo a player just needs to play and practice like its their last. A player with the drive to get better and the motivation to win fits in our system. We are all about having a family atmosphere at Valpo and that makes it hard to let others down. We all expect the best effort out of each other, so giving all the effort that you can give is all that we ask for here.

HC: Any nicknames (Buggsy perhaps?) or pregame rituals you can share?

Buggsy: Lol well Buggsy was one or Buggy. I have a lot of nicknames so its hard to keep up with them. Rituals before the game I just like to put on my music and zone out before the game.

HC: What's your major at VU?  What is your dream job after graduating?

Buggsy: I either want to go into coaching or I want to be a Behavioral Analyst for the FBI

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Brandon Wood Update

Wood on the drive
Disclaimer: I will do my best to stay objective in writing any updates regarding Wood's future.  I do wish him the best with whatever decision he arrives at.  Much of what you are about to read comes from message board posts and personal messages I have received from Anthony Wood, Brandon's father, who has graciously given me permission to write about Brandon and the process he is currently going through.

The odds of Brandon returning to Valpo are quite bleak at the moment for several reasons.  There is no question about Brandon's offensive capabilities.  He has led Valpo in scoring the past two years, he was tied for the team lead in assist this past year, and is clearly capable of scoring from anywhere on the court.  He has proved those things and, according to Anthony Wood, these are not qualities that are in question about Brandon by the NBA people.  What they want to see is how Brandon is at "matching up defensively against bigger, stronger and NBA ready players is the number one concern along with the ability to play with and against other NBA ready players on a night in and night out basis."

What the scouts want to see
This is red flag number one.  I don't really see how this is possible in the Horizon League next season.  With Norris Cole being gone and the possibility of Shelvin Mack leaving Butler that really only leaves a guy like Ray McCullum Jr. as the best player at Brandon's position.  Playing in a major conference like the Big Ten would put Brandon up against these bigger, stronger, more NBA ready guards on a more consistent basis.  Valpo and the Horizon League just can't offer the same competition next season.

Ready for red flag number 2?  It's a big one.  In a message from Anthony Wood received late Monday (4/25) evening, Brandon is in the process of scheduling "Official Visits" with both Purdue University and Michigan State University to take place in the next week or so.  For this to happen, it tells me that there is mutual interest from all parties.  I'm told the visit with Purdue will probably happen first this week, and the visit with MSU will most likely take place next week.

The Valparaiso coaching staff has not issued Brandon any kind of deadline for making his decision on whether or not he will transfer, but I'm told Brandon is taking this is into consideration and will not drag things out longer then need be.

My two sense.  The NBA is full of guys who only have one job, score points (Kyle Korver, Mike Bibby, Eddie House, Mike Miller these are just the first few that came to mind that would play a similar position as Brandon).  There aren't many guys in the league outside of a few big men who are in the Association because they can defend.  With that being said, Brandon can prove to the NBA scouts that he is an offensive force by staying at Valpo.  He would be the focus of every team's defense that VU would go up against, and if he could score 20-25ppg that would mean more to me (the furthest person from an NBA scout) then would scoring say 8-10ppg at a Big Ten school where everything will be new (again trying hard not to be too biased).

Whatever decision he comes to, I do wish Brandon the best and would like to thank him for the couple years he spent at Valpo helping this program succeed in the Horizon League.  Please feel free to leave any comments, and if you'd like an email alert when a new post is made at please put your email address in the space provided above this post and click submit.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Crusaders 2011-2012

The Crusaders had four scholarships available (and potentially a fifth with the possiblity of Brandon Wood being on the move) with which to improve upon a team that finished the season 23-12 and a disappointing fourth in the Horizon League.  The Crusader coaching staff have had the difficult challenge of finding guys to fill the void left by Cory Johnson, Howard Little, and Michael Rogers.  So far, so good.

Dino Jakolis
Today, Coach Drew inked LaLumiere guard/forward Dino Jakolis as his third recruit of the season to go along with JUCO transfer Richie Edwards and Virginia Tech transfer Ben Boggs.  Lets take a look at what each player brings to the table and how/if they can be an immediate help to the 2011-2012 Crusader team.

Dino Jakolis is a 6'7'', 215 pound, kid from Croatia who spent last year playing for the 17-9 LaLumiere Lakes.   Jakolis is a small forward who can score and rebound.  He averaged over 12 points per game and 4 rebounds this past season for the Lakers.  Hopefully he can put on a few pounds of muscle and lend the Crusaders a much needed hand inside both defending the other team's big guys and rebounding.  Jakolis has range up to 22 feet and has a nice pull up jumper off the dribble.  Jakolis has played on the Croatian national team so he has big game experience.  He is ranked 86th at his position according to ESPN.

Richie Edwards
Justin "Richie" Edwards comes in as JUCO transfer from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.  He is built similarly to Jakolis at 6'8'' 215 pounds.  Edwards averaged 15.6ppg and 7.7rpg this past season and hit 40% of his three point attempts.  "Richie is a high post four-man who is very offensive minded," Hillsborough coach Byron Samuels said. "He is working on being more of a complete player and to become a better rebounder, but he'll be able to help Valparaiso right away."  Sounds like he will be able to step in and fill the void left by Johnson, and probably be a more potent outside shooter then Johnson ever was.  I'm hearing he will also lead the Crusaders in tatoo's as he is well inked.  Edwards was ranked 28th at his position coming out of high school by ESPN.

Ben Boggs
Ben Boggs is the third recruit and another transfer.  Boggs comes to Valpo from Virginia Tech.  He is a 6'3'' shooting guard who was ranked 56th at his position coming out of high school by ESPN.  Boggs will look to step into a already crowded backcourt and look to stretch the opposing defense.

So far this has been a solid recruiting class for Coach Drew.  He has brought in several guys with collegiate playing experience as well as a third guy who has played in national competitions.  With one more recruit to go, lets hope Coach Drew and his staff can find another big body to play in the paint.  Let's also hope they get lucky and Brandon Wood decides it is in his best interest to return to Valparaiso.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

FYI: Basketball Team Banquet

Picked this up off the team's facebook page. 

Monday, April 25 6-8pm
Community Room in the Christopher Center

Make plans now to attend the Valpo Men's Basketball year end team banquet. This year's event will be held in the beautiful Community Room of the Christopher Center on Valpo's campus. Cost to attend is only $20 and includes dinner. If you would like to reserve a seat, please contact Sherry Williams in the Basketball Office at 219-464-5254 or at

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A brief interview with CSU Assistant Coach Larry DeSimpelare

Cleveland State Assistant Coach Larry DeSimpelare was kind of enough to take a few minutes of his time to answer a couple of my questions regarding his CSU Vikings as well as our Valparaiso Crusaders.  Coach DeSimpelare has been coaching at the collegiate level for 20 years and has been working with current CSU head coach Gary Waters for the past 14 years.  According to DeSimpelare's bio he works hard with the guards, defense, is responsible for helping with game preparation, and is the primary person in charge of scouting and recruiting.  Again, a big thank you to Coach DeSimpelare for taking a few minutes to briefly answer my questions!

Aaron Pogue
The first thing DeSimpelare mentioned, before answering any of the questions, was about the great respect he has for Coach Drew, his staff, and the Crusader team.  The first question I asked had to do with CSU losing the Horizon League Player of the Year in Norris Cole to graduation and which returning players would be expected to fill the void.  DeSimpelare mentioned three guys: Aaron Pogue, D'Aundray Brown, and Trey Harmon.  All three of these guys are upperclassmen.  Brown and Harmon are both guards and Pogue is a forward.  Brown, who is listed as a senior, must have taken a medical redshirt last season.  Harmon and Pogue both played significant roles for the Vikings last season averaging a combined 21ppg and 10rpg. 

The next few questions didn't reveal a whole lot.  Those questions dealt with where he focuses his recruiting efforts and whether he thought CSU would be competing for the top spots in the HL next season.  I also asked him if CSU has any incoming freshmen the rest of the league should be worried about and got a pretty funny response:  "Hopefully.  Freshman only look good on paper." 

"Great offensive team"
Finally we got to the couple questions about our Crusaders.  As we all know, Valpo lost quite a bit of fire power in the graduations of Cory Johnson, Howard Little, and Michael Rogers.  These graduations plus the possibility of losing Brandon Wood to the NBA or transfer have me, and other Crusader fans, a bit nervous about the upcoming season.  Coach had some encouraging words, "Valpo is always a good team and one of the best offensive teams in the league.  They have a lot of really good players coming back...they will be fine."  Finally, as a key member of an opposing coaching staff who's job it is to help get his guys prepared for the games, I asked what they focus on when preparing to take on a Homer Drew coached Crusader team.  DeSimpelare's response, "Guys that can shoot the ball.  Great offensive team."

Hopefully, we'll have a few more of these brief interviews with the opponents throughout the Summer.  Thanks again Coach DeSimpelare and good luck to you and the CSU Vikings whenever you aren't playing our Crusaders!