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Bracket Breakdown: Your Complete Guide to the Final Four

by - Published April 3, 2010 in Columns

On one side of the bracket that went busted a day into the NCAA Tournament, we have two Cinderella teams hoping that the crystal shoe will fit them at the end. On the other, we have two power-conference juggernauts trying to spoil the folk tale’s happy ending.

It’s not a good vs. evil story. It’s merely the Final Four, and its two No. 5 seeds (injury-riddled Michigan State and Butler) battling each other for one spot in the championship game while the ACC’s and No. 1 seed Duke combats the Big East’s and No. 2 West Virginia for the other. Two feel-good stories vs. two bracket-saving, household names.

It should be fun. Let’s take a look at those Final Four-ers.

Even though it’s a second consecutive Final Four trip for the Spartans (28-8), the state of Michigan should still be pleasantly shocked to find them there. Michigan State has walked on the borderline of survival in every round to reach these instances, having won its four games by an average of 3.25 points. Clutchness and healthy doses of guards Korie Lucious and Durrell Summers have done the trick. They have the Spartans feeling they can go from 2009 runner-ups to 2010 champions despite their major underdog status.

However, when it comes to underdogs, no team barks louder than the Bulldogs of Butler (32-4). Fans are growing either hopeful or tired of hearing about how this team’s run is not unlike that of the Hickory team from the “Hoosiers” movie, the story of a small-town Indiana high school squad that wins the state championship — my apologies if I ruined the movie for anyone.

The similarities are there. Butler is also from Indiana and plays in the mid-major Horizon League. Adding to that, the Bulldogs have pulled their set of upsets to get to the Final Four. They beat their region’s No. 1 and No. 2 seeds — Syracuse and Kansas State, respectively — to get a shot at the title while playing in their home state.

As it’s been the case all tournament long, swingman Gordon Hayward will be key for Butler, not just because of his team-leading scoring but because of his rebounding. The sophomore will need to set a tone on the glass and hope his teammates follow. Michigan State is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and extra possessions could be the difference. The Spartans, for their part, must take Butler’s playing-at-home spirit out right off the bat. And they shouldn’t rely on their crunch-time skills. Butler, which comes into the game having won 24 consecutive games, has been just as good in those instances this tournament.

Whichever squad remains alive after the underdog-off will have to face a powerhouse in the championship game. Duke (33-5), thought by many to be the most vulnerable No. 1 Tournament seed, is the only No. 1 seed to make it to the Final Four. The “Big Three,” guards Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith and forward Kyle Singler, combine for about 70 percent of the Blue Devils’ total scoring and has carried Duke past every team it was supposed to beat. Now, however, Duke, a team that relies heavily on three-point shooting, will face its biggest offensive test against a lengthy West Virginia (31-6) squad that forced another No. 1 seed, Kentucky, into misfiring on 28-of-32 three-point attempts in their Elite Eight match.

The Mountaineers not only are long and effective zone defenders but also feature one of the most exciting players in the field: forward Da’Sean Butler. Butler hasn’t needed to hit any big shots this post-season as West Virginia hasn’t had any major scares during its run, but Butler is one bad dude when called upon, as proven by his two game-winners in the Big East Tournament. He and forward Devin Ebanks are the Mountaineers’ main offensive weapons.

Smith is the guy for Duke. His ability to break down defenses and create, along with his reliable jump shot, could have West Virginia scrambling out of their zone defense rather early. The Blue Devils are an outstanding shooting team, and the Mountaineers might not have a choice but to play them man-to-man. How West Virginia adjusts to Duke’s shooting ability will be the deciding factor. And it would also help the Mountaineers if they could make a couple of shots. Defense is what’s gotten them this far, but they’re the worst shooting team remaining. West Virginia has shot less than 42 percent in all of their tournament wins.

Because of its underdog of underdogs’ status, Butler is the team that seemingly everyone wants to win it all, especially because the Bulldogs are playing in front of their home crowd. Michigan State will be a tough rival, but these teams are evenly-matched. Meanwhile, on the other side, Duke will need a good shooting day to get past the Mountaineers, who will pray for an average shooting day to help them get back to the championship game for the first time since 1959. It should be fun.

Predictions that will probably be completely wrong: Butler and Duke advance. And Duke wins it all.

Horizon Notebook

by - Published November 18, 2008 in Conference Notes



Horizon League Notebook

by Jay Pearlman

UW-Milwaukee made quick work of Loyola-Marymount on Friday, leading from start to finish to win 75-51. Two newcomers led the way, as JUCO transfer guard Tone Boyle (Highland Community) scored 20 (8-14, 4-8 in treys), and 6-8 freshman Tony Meier (St. Louis) scored 14 (5-11, 4-9 in treys) and grabbed 12 boards.

Then on Saturday, the Panthers fell behind to UC-Davis by 24 at halftime, and mounted a furious second half comeback to defeat UC-Davis 81-75. Winning the second half 54-24, Milwaukee was paced by senior guard Ricky Franklin’s 18 (6-9, 4-6 in treys, and available for another season after this one with satisfactory academic progress), sophomore forward Anthony Hill’s 16 (7-14) and 8 boards, and Boyle’s 16 (5-10, 3-6 in treys). Playing his second college game, Meier was once again effective, scoring 12 (5-8, 2-3 in treys) and grabbing 6 boards.

Then came the big game on Sunday, against home-standing Iowa State, a game the Panthers were forced to play without quickly reliable Tony Meier, sidelined with the flu. Playing all game long from behind, Milwaukee trailed Iowa State by as many as 14 in the first half, and by 10 at the intermission. Quickly becoming the Horizon’s comeback kids, the Panthers once again clawed back in the second half, pulling within 4 three different times, the last at 58-54 at the ten minute mark. Alas, sharpshooting ISU would not be had in its own gym, using the three-point shot and a three rebound advantage against undermanned Milwaukee to pull away to a 79-61 victory, along the way setting a school record by making 15 treys. For the losers, Franklin led the way with 14 (4-11, 2-6 in treys) and 6 boards, Boyle had 13 (5-16, 2-7 in treys) and 5 boards, and Hill had 10 (4-11) and 7 boards.

While missing the monster win over Iowa State they’d hoped for, the Panthers come away from the World Vision Classic with a 2-1 record, along with a confidence bred by two huge comebacks, the one without one of their starters falling just short. They also showed off two quality players joining the ranks Horizon newcomers, Tone Boyle and Tony Meier. I guess this writer needs an excuse to get to Chicago for a day or two pretty soon, and once there the time to sneak up the lake to Milwaukee to catch the Panthers.

Horizon News and Notes

  • If the game of the weekend in the conference this first weekend of play wasn’t Milwaukee’s comeback win over UC-Davis in Ames, then it was Butler’s hard-nosed opening win Saturday night in nearby Des Moines at Drake, 58-48. In a grinding defensive game, sophomore guard Zach Hahn came off the bench to lead all scorer with 13 (5-9, 3-7 in treys), star sophomore center Matt Howard added 12 (5-12) and 7 rebounds, and both freshmen who excited this writer two weeks ago contributed, Gordon Hayward with 11 (4-8, 3-6 in treys) and seven boards, and Shelvin Mack with 9 (3-7, 1-4 in treys).
    And oh yes, Butler also announced this week the signing of 6-9 Andrew Smith, well-thought of from Indiana’s Covenant Christian High School.
  • Playing without star senior forward Derick Nelson, Oakland University put quite a scare into Cleveland State on Saturday night, leading for 36 and a half minutes Saturday night before falling 58-55 in the Wollstein Arena. D’Aundray Brown kept CSU in the game, leading all scorers with 15 points (7-9) and six rebounds, but CSU’s comeback was energized by the rebounding and relentless second play of fourth-year starter and star forward J’Nathan Bullock, whose 10 boards were far more important than his 11 points (4-12). Now it’s on to Seattle for a first round CBE game at Washington on Tuesday night.
  • In other Horizon League action, on Friday night Illinois-Chicago was bested by Bradley 67-61 in Peoria, Detroit was beaten by Purdue 82-50 in West Lafayette, and Loyola lost at home to Rockhurst 86-79. On Saturday, Wright State lost at home to Illinois State 69-61, Youngstown State lost at home to Buffalo 70-62, and Valparaiso defeated NAIA Division II Marian at home 76-56.

     

Butler Tries To Reload

by - Published November 8, 2008 in Columns



Butler Tries to Reload

by Jay Pearlman

INDIANAPOLIS – Four of five starters are gone, as well as five of the six Butler players logging 500 minutes, 144 out of 170 starts, two first team all-conference players (including Player of the Year Mike Green), 69 percent of points gone, along with 57 percent of its rebounds. And unlike Duke and North Carolina (which “select” rather than “recruit”), mid-majors rebuild rather than reload, relying on such things as “diamonds in the rough,” transfers, and – can I even speak the words – teaching and player development making average players better. Rarely good enough to go pro – and almost never early – mid-majors hold onto their players for four years – even five – and when the Kents, Vermonts and George Masons of the world play deep into the tournament, most often it’s with 23-year-old seniors playing against more talented 18 and 19-year-old underclassmen.

In my time watching the Colonial, Mason couldn’t reload; Anthony Grant probably won’t be able to reload at VCU when Eric Maynor leaves. John Cheney couldn’t reload at Temple; John Calipari couldn’t reload at Massachusetts (and likely can’t at Memphis, though we’ll see). Gonzaga is the exception that proves the rule, the only school in America outside the BCS conferences to appear in ten straight NCAA tournaments. Perhaps Butler is next.

The coach is second-year man Brad Stevens, who turned 32 barely a week ago. He is one of only six head coaches in history to win 30 games in his first Division I season, and one of only three mid-major coaches to do so (Bill Hodges had Larry Bird at Indiana State in 1978-79, and Stan Heath had all of Gary Waters’ players at Kent in 2001-02). In two glorious seasons the last two years, Butler played that slow deliberate style, relying on long-range shooting late in the shot clock, reminding of Princeton under Pete Carril, Dick Bennett while still at Green Bay. They were first in the conference in scoring defense more by holding the ball and limiting opposition possessions. (Didn’t Gary Walters’ Dartmouth team lead the nation in defense that way? Didn’t Bill Parcells win a Super Bowl over Buffalo much the same way?) Half of their shots were three-pointers last season, and they made 319 of them, 9th most in America, with a higher percentage – 38 percent – than seven of the eight teams ahead of them in total makes (all except Valparaiso).

I certainly didn’t need to go to a November 1st exhibition game against NAIA Division II Marian (well-coached, but no better than an average NCAA Division III team). But something drew me to Indianapolis this night, to venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse, to the “county seat” of the Horizon League, to a gym I’d only seen watching televised Butler games (and on the big screen when Gene Hackman coached there). Hardly Butler-like, they shot a dismal 23 percent from behind the arc (6-26), just 1 for 16 in the first half. Lefty Zach Hahn was 0-4 from long range (and looked like he’d miss forever), and Grant Leiendecker was just 1-3 (his form was better, suggesting that he’ll make a bunch during the season). Star sophomore center Matt Howard began the game with a power move to the goal finishing with his left, later in the first half cupped an offensive board in his right and thunder-dunked in one motion. Last year’s Newcomer of the Year and this year’s preseason all-league selection showed that he’s ready to challenge Josh Mayo and J’Nathan Bullock for conference Player of the Year, barely raising a sweat in scoring 14 (on 4-6 shooting) and grabbing 11 boards in 22 minutes. And then there were the freshman.

Shocking along press row, instead of familiar returnees Stevens started three frosh “guards” along with Howard and undersized 6-3 junior forward Willie Veasley. 6-0 Alabama point guard Ronald Nored (president of Butler’s freshman class) showed athleticism, penetration, and a strong handle in his 18 minutes (to go with a dynamic personality). Hardly the pure shooter Pete Campbell was last year, Lexington’s 6-3 Shelvin Mack showed that he’ll score from inside and out, continue to shoot, and after an 0-5 first half from behind the arc, he was 2-2 in the second half, finishing with 11 points and 5 boards in 25 minutes. And by conference play, these two should be better defensively than anyone was in last year’s backcourt.

Then there is 6-8 Gordon Hayward, the best player on last year’s Indiana 4A champs from Brownsburg. Having never heard his name until he was introduced to start, just one missed shot and thirty seconds of play told me that this young man is special, as special a mid-major freshman as I’ve seen. Told that he grew from 6-1 to 6-8 late in high school, that explains both why he’s a guard rather than a forward, and why – at least in part – the Big Ten missed him (I’m told John Beilen’s Michigan staff made a late run at Hayward after he committed to Butler in June of his junior year, but where was Kelvin Sampson’s IU staff?) Whatever the reasons he’s in the Horizon rather than the Big Ten, Hayward handles the ball like a guard, has tremendous second guard shooting form, tons of range, and terrific quickness and flexibility.

In his first college exhibition game, when he didn’t run basket-to-basket as aggressively as Howard did, I asked Butler SID Jim McGrath which of the two was faster; McGrath later asked the coaches, and reported back that it is indeed Hayward who runs better. In short, it appeared to this writer in the first minute of last night’s game that Hayward has the size, athleticism and skills to be a pro some day, perhaps even an NBA pro (and given his fair complexion, he just might not be done growing). What a great get for Coach Stevens! (Oh, Hayward scored 8 on 2-5 shooting – 2-4 from the arc – grabbed 2 boards, and had 2 assists and no turnovers in 23 minutes of action, but his statistics hardly tell the story).

So if you’re thinking of scheduling a game against Butler, I suggest playing them this year rather than next (yes, it’s undoubtedly too late to adjust this year’s schedule), and if possible play them early (December 4 seems just right for Cleveland State to get Butler in its own gym, but by the time the two teams meet at Hinkle on Saturday February 28, Butler just might be ready). And if you’re a Horizon fan looking for something to focus on during the team’s non-conference season, follow Bulldog freshman Gordon Hayward and decide how good he can be by the primary conference season in January, by this year’s Horizon Tournament, by each of the next three years, and by four years from now, when he could be earning his first paycheck for playing basketball.

Horizon news and notes

  • It took half of my life to get there, but what a joy it was attending my first game at Hinkle! Those of you who’ve read my words before know I have a general preference for the way things were in the past to how they are now, and also that my “Mecca of college basketball” is Philadelphia’s Palestra. Well, having spent time in Bloomington, coached in Northwest Ohio, and lived for most of the 90s in Cleveland, how can I justify never before having attended a game in Hinkle? Opened in 1928, imperfectly lit for television, tall and open and airy and steeped in history, well, I just might like it even more than the Palestra, a gym I’ve been in nearly fifty times. For now, let’s call it a dead heat, and as the Governor of California is fond of saying, “I’ll be back.”
  • After just a few practices at CSU and a single exhibition game at Butler, I find myself focusing on the new college three-point line, one foot further out than last year’s. First, keep that increased distance in mind as you evaluate players’ and teams’ shooting statistics, as three-point percentages should come down, period. Second, if the Butler exhibition is any indication, those percentages should be down precipitously early this season, as both players’ muscle memories and coaches’ strategies are adjusted to the new distance. Third, I love the new greater distance, as it seems to separate “real outside shooters” from those less real.
  • When the Horizon announced the schedule of games included in its ESPN television package (a package including conference telecasts on January and February Friday nights on ESPNU), I wondered why so many Butler games were chosen (particularly relative to those of preseason favorite Cleveland State). Well, at first I suspected it was carryover from recent years’ success (just as I suspect lots of you – particularly males – generally dress each morning based on yesterday’s weather). Then I thought it could be the fact that the conference office is in Indianapolis, subliminally affecting choices made there. And both of those reasons could provide part of the answer. But after watching the new look Butler Bulldogs last night, there is obviously one additional reason to suggest: the folks in the conference office may well have expected Butler to reload – perhaps they even evaluated its freshman class – and decided that this team is going to be good before very long, and interesting even sooner. While I don’t know how the conference will divide up television income from ESPN (even whether or not this package will generate any), selfishly this writer is now very pleased at the heavy Butler representation in this year’s TV package (living in Cleveland I will attend most of the CSU games in person anyway).
  • If the rest of life cooperates, I’ll report from an exhibition game at Valparaiso next week.

     

Horizon Preview

by - Published November 7, 2008 in Conference Notes



Horizon League 2008-09 Preview

by Nick Dettmann

Two Horizon League teams solidified their respective coaching situations this offseason.

The first came in April when the Detroit Titans hired Ray McCallum to take over the program.

McCallum replaces Perry Watson, who retired from the post in March, but took a leave of absence in January and didn’t coach the team for the rest of the season.

During the 15 seasons which Watson led the way, Detroit was 261-198 with 10 winning seasons and a regular season league championship in 1994 and 1999, reaching the NCAA tournament in 1998 and 1999. The Titans also reached the NIT semifinals in 2001.

McCallum comes to Detroit after three seasons at Indiana, and three seasons at Oklahoma prior to his stint with the Hoosiers.

McCallum brings more than 20 years of coaching experience to Detroit, including 11 as a head coach. His head coaching stints include Ball State and Houston.

McCallum led the Cardinals to a 126-76 record during his seven seasons (1994-2000) in Muncie, Ind. He was the first coach in school history to have seven consecutive winning seasons, and led the team to the NCAA tournament in 1995 and 2000, and the NIT in 1998. While at BSU, McCallum recruited Bonzi Wells, who became the 11th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, and currently plays for the Houston Rockets. During his coaching career, McCallum has coached eight NBA players.

His .624 winning percentage was fourth-best in MAC history when he left in 2000.

At Houston, the Cougars were 44-73 in his four seasons, giving him a 170-149 career coaching record. His best season was the 2001-02 campaign where he led the Cougars to an 18-15 record, reaching the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament. He never reached the NCAAs or NIT while at Houston.

“This is a tremendous day,” McCallum said at his introductory news conference. “UDM has a great basketball tradition and I’m glad to be a part of the next chapter.”

The other coaching move made this offseason was at Wright State. In July, the Raiders gave coach Brad Brownell an extension through the 2013-14 season.

Brownell has averaged 21 victories a season in his six seasons as a Division I coach. He is 44-20 in two seasons thus far at Wright State, including 21-10 a season ago. In 2007, he led the Raiders to a 23-10 record and the school’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament after upsetting Butler in the league tournament championship game. Brownell has beaten nationally-ranked Butler three times.

In his six seasons in Division I, Brownell is 127-60.

“Brad has done an outstanding job in a short period of time,” WSU Athletic Director Bob Grant said in July. “His leadership and commitment to Wright State and our student-athletes have led to unparalleled prosperity on the court as well as in the classroom and in the community.

“His record of success ranks among the top coaches in the nation and I am certainly pleased to have him leading our program and I know our fans feel the same.”

BracketBusters galore
All 10 teams of the Horizon League will compete in this year’s ESPN BracketBuster festivities Feb. 21-22, 2009.

This year, 102 will mid-major teams will be featured with a chance to boost their NCAA tournament resumes. Of the 102 teams, 26 will be nationally televised on the ESPN networks. The matchups will be unveiled Feb. 2.

Loyola, Valparaiso, Wright State, Youngstown State, UW-Milwaukee and Illinois-Chicago will play home games, while Butler, Cleveland State, Detroit and UW-Green Bay will play on the road.

As part of the agreement, teams will play in a home-and-home series with the host team playing at the visiting team in the 2009-10 season.

This year’s field includes last year’s Elite Eight qualifier Davidson, and features 77 appearances in the NCAA tournament, including George Mason (Final Four in 2006) and six Sweet 16 teams (Butler in 2007, Southern Illinois in 2007, Bradley in 2006, Wichita State in 2006, UW-Milwaukee in 2005 and Nevada in 2004).

The Mid-American Conference and Colonial Athletic Association will be represented with 12 teams, while the Horizon League, the Ohio Valley, the Missouri Valley and the Metro Atlantic Athletic will have 10 teams.

Other conferences featured will be the America East, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, Summit, West Coast and Western Athletic.

Former Penguins coach dies
Dom Rosseelli, who accumulated more than 1,000 career victories in basketball and baseball at Youngstown State, died Oct. 7. He was 93.

He is by far the school’s winningest coach with 589 career victories on the hardwood (1940-1982). The next closest is Dan Peters (1993-99) with 78. His best season on the court was in 1963-64 when the Penguins won a school-record 24 games – a record which still stands today.

In addition to basketball, he coached baseball, and was an assistant for the football team for 21 seasons.

He began the baseball program at YSU in 1948, accumulating 489 career victories.

Horizon League, Detroit will be showcased in April
The 2009 Final Four will be held in Detroit’s Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, this spring. The Horizon League is no stranger to hosting the Final Four as it hosts the prestigious event on a regular basis in Indianapolis and the RCA Dome.

League, ESPN announce Game-of-the-Week schedule
Seven Horizon League matchups featuring all 10 men’s teams and two women’s will be shown on Fridays in January and February on ESPNU as part of 17 games involving league teams to be shown on ESPN networks this season.

“We are excited to expand our ESPN partnership with our first national basketball game-of-the-week,” said Jon LeCrone, Horizon League commissioner, in a statement. “More fans will now be able to follow our teams on a regular basis during the regular season.

“This is another important step in the growth of the League.”

The first game to be televised as part of the Friday Night Game-of-the-Week will Jan. 9 when UW-Milwaukee hosts intrastate rival UW-Green Bay.

The women’s matchup will be when Wright State plays at Butler on Feb. 6.

ESPN2 will also carry two other matchups – Butler at Illinois Chicago on Jan. 17, and a wild-card game which will be announced in early February.

Detroit will play at Purdue on Nov. 14, and it will be shown on ESPN360.com. And like in previous seasons, ESPNU will carry the Horizon League tournament semifinals and ESPN will carry the tournament championship game.

The ESPN Schedule (all times Eastern):
Friday, Nov. 14 Detroit at Purdue (9 p.m., ESPN360.com)
Thursday, Dec. 4 Butler at Cleveland State (8 p.m., ESPNU)
Saturday, Dec. 20 Valparaiso vs. North Carolina (2 p.m., ESPNU)
Tuesday, Dec. 23 Butler at Xavier (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Friday, Jan. 9 UW-Green Bay at UW-Milwaukee (9 p.m., ESPNU)
Friday, Jan. 16 Wright State at Detroit (9 p.m., ESPNU)
Saturday, Jan. 17 Butler at UIC (2 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN360.com)
Friday, Jan. 23 Cleveland State at Youngstown State (9 p.m., ESPNU)
Friday, Jan. 30 Valparaiso at Butler (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Friday, Feb. 6 Wright State at Butler (women’s) (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Friday, Feb. 13 UIC at Butler (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Friday, Feb. 27 UIC at Loyola (9 p.m., ESPNU)
Saturday, Feb. 28 Wild-card game TBD (Noon, ESPN2/ESPN360.com)
Saturday, March 7 Men’s semifinal (7 and 9 p.m., ESPNU)
Tuesday, March 10 Men’s championship (9 p.m., ESPN/ESPN360.com)
Sunday, March 15 Women’s championship (1 p.m., ESPNU)

Preseason All-League Team
MVP:
Josh Mayo, Illinois-Chicago
Newcomer of the Year: Jason Bennett, Detroit

First Team
Josh Mayo, Illinois-Chicago
J’Nathan Bullock, Cleveland State
Cedric Jackson, Cleveland State
Vaughn Duggins, Wright State
Matt Howard, Butler

Honorable Mention
Mike Schachtner, UW-Green Bay
J.R. Blout, Loyola
Urule Igbavboa, Valparaiso
Todd Brown, Wright State
Scott VanderMeer, Illinois-Chicago

Predicted Order of Finish

Cleveland State Vikings (21-13, 12-6, 2nd)
Coach: Gary Waters, third season (31-34)
Projected starters
J’Nathan Bullock, senior
Cedric Jackson, senior
George Tandy, senior
Chris Moore, senior
D’Aundray Brown, sophomore
Key nonconference games
Nov. 18 at Washington
Dec. 6 at West Virginia
Dec. 15 at Syracuse
Feb. 21 at BracketBuster
Key losses: Joe Davis, Breyohn Watson.
What to expect: After being a doormat team in the league for a number of seasons, the Vikings are a power in the league, and enter this season the favorite.

With good reason, too.

They return two of the league’s best – J’Nathan Bullock and Cedric Jackson. They also could potentially start four seniors with significant playing experience. There are 127 starts between them from last year’s 21-win club.

Bullock and Jackson return after leading the team in scoring in 2007-08 (Bullock at 14.8 points per game, Jackson at 13.9).

Watson and Davis were quality players last season, but the Vikings shouldn’t have much trouble filling in their vacancies. Sophomore guard Norris Cole played in all 34 games last season, and will likely see more minutes this season. And guard Eric Schiele, who had a record-setting high school career at Atwater High School in Ohio, will make an impact with a full season to work with.

Schiele played in only four games last year as a freshman, missing the first half of the season waiting to become eligible. He is a terrific 3-point shooter, and could play a big role as the Vikings’ first or second man of the bench, maybe even work his way into the starting lineup.

In high school, Schiele averaged 39.6 points per game in his senior year, shooting 40 percent from the field, 34 percent from 3-point range, and 86 percent at the free-throw line. He had four 50-point games, including a career-high 69 in December 2006.

Wright State Raiders (21-10, 12-6, 2nd)
Coach: Brad Brownell, third season (44-20, 127-60 overall)
Projected starters
Vaughn Duggins, junior
Todd Brown, junior
William Graham, senior
Cooper Land, sophomore
Ronnie Thomas, junior
Key nonconference games
Dec. 14 at Wake Forest
Dec. 20-22 San Juan Shootout, Puerto Rico
Feb. 21 BracketBuster
Key losses: Jordan Pleiman, Scottie Wilson
What to expect: The Raiders are becoming one of the elite programs in the league, winning 44 games in the past two seasons. That shouldn’t change this season with starters back, including Vaughn Duggins and Todd Brown, who are both potentially league MVP candidates.

Both were the leading scorers last season with Duggins averaging 13.8 points per game, and Brown averaging 12.7 points per game.

Another area in the Raiders’ favor is their ability to beat Butler. They’ve done so three times in the past two years.

Also, the Raiders are becoming increasingly difficult to beat at home. In the 18 seasons of the Nutter Center, the Raiders are 188-82 (.696 winning percentage).

The Raiders will need to work on experience in the early stages of the season. Jordan Pleiman and Scottie Wilson started 30 and 31 games last season, respectively, with Duggins, Brown and Graham eating up the rest of the starts. The rest of the roster has just two starts between them (John David Gardner and Gavin Horne have one each).

Illinois-Chicago Flames (18-15, 9-9, 4th)
Coach: Jimmy Collins, 12th season (194-171)
Projected starters
Josh Mayo, senior
Scott Vandermeer, senior
Spencer Stuart, junior
Jeremy Buttell, junior
Robert Kreps, sophomore
Key nonconference games
Nov. 14 at Bradley
Dec. 3 at Vanderbilt
Dec. 14 at Georgia Tech
Feb. 21 BracketBuster
Key losses: Karl White Jr., Robert Bush, Jermaine Dailey
What to expect: The Flames enter the 2008-09 season with Hoopville Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Josh Mayo.

Mayo, a product of Merrillville (Ind.) High School, averaged a team-leading 17.1 points per game last season – second-best in the league behind Detroit’s Jon Goode’s 19.3.

Also back is ferocious shot-blocker Scott Vandermeer. The 7-foot center out of Lake Central High School in Dyer, Ind., swatted 85 shots a season ago (2.6 per game). He doubled his closest competitor in that category (Cleveland State’s George Tandy, 40 blocks, or 1.2 per game). Vandermeer also led the league last year in rebounding with 7.5 per game.

Having those two back will help the Flames stay in the league title picture, despite losing quality players in White Jr., Bush and Dailey, who combined to start in 57 games last season.

Stuart, Buttell and Kreps all played significant minutes last year and should get into the starting lineup this season. But look for freshman guard Josh Anderson to make an impact off the bench.

Quality basketball players have surrounded Anderson’s life. Anderson’s father, Nick, was an Illinois Mr. Basketball in 1986, was a two-time All-American at Illinois where he played for Collins when he was an assistant at Illinois, and was a 13-year NBA veteran where he was the first player ever taken by the Orlando Magic in 1989.

Josh Anderson was also a high school teammate of Derrick Rose, the 2008 No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls.

As for Collins, the school’s winningest coach is six victories shy of No. 200.

UW-Green Bay (15-15, 9-9, 4th)
Coach: Tod Kowalczyk, seventh season (92-88)
Projected starters
Mike Schachtner, senior
Ryan Tillema, senior
Rahmon Fletcher, sophomore
Randy Berry, junior
Terry Evans, senior
Key nonconference games
Nov. 18 at Utah
Nov. 21-23 at Glenn Wilkes Classic, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Nov. 29 UMass
Dec. 13 at Wisconsin
Feb. 21 at BracketBuster
Key losses: None
What to expect: The Phoenix could easily win 20 games this season with five players back, who made 132 starts between them last season, and three of them averaged at least 10 points per game. In addition, a fourth averaged nine points per game.

To summarize, the Phoenix have their top four scorers back this year, led by Schachtner’s 15.8 points per game, which was third-best in the league. Right behind him are Tillema (12.5), Fletcher (10.1), Evans (9.6) and Berry (7.3).

This is easily Kowalczyk’s most-loaded team during his tenure, and winning 20 games is a definite possibility with not a terribly difficult non-league schedule. But games at Utah and Wisconsin will pose challenges.

The last time the Phoenix won 20 games in a season was the 1998-99 under Mike Heideman (20), and since legendary coach Dick Bennett left following the 1994-95 season, the Phoenix have just two 20-win seasons (1995-96 and 1998-99).

During Bennett’s 10-year tenure, the Phoenix won at least 20 games five times – all in a six-year span.

Cordero Barkley and Bryquis Perine will be the Phoenix’s top two options off the bench. Barkley played in 30 games last season and has played in 92 games with UWGB. Perine played in 29 games last year.

Butler Bulldogs (30-4, 16-2, 1st)
Coach: Brad Stevens, second season (30-4)
Projected starters
Matt Howard, sophomore
Shawn Vanzant, sophomore
Zach Hahn, sophomore
Willie Veasley, junior
Avery Jukes, junior
Key nonconference games
Nov. 15 at Drake
Dec. 10 at Bradley
Dec. 13 at Ohio State
Dec. 23 at Xavier
Feb. 21 at BracketBuster
Key losses: Mike Green, A.J. Graves, Pete Campbell, Drew Streicher
What to expect: Stevens led the Bulldogs to a league-record 30 victories last season. Repeating that performance this season will be difficult.

Three of the Bulldogs’ top scorers from last year are gone (Green, Graves, Campbell). Not only that, they had experience, starting in 77 combined games last season, and comprised half of their scoring. Also gone are Julian Betko, who started in 33 of 34 games last season, and Drew Streicher, who started in all 34 games last season.

Howard is the only one back with any extensive experience, averaging 12.3 points per game last season, starting in 26 games. He will need to have a big season this year to pick up for two more sophomores potentially in the starting lineup, who played sparingly last season.

Vanzant, a sophomore, is a quality player after scoring more than 1,100 points in high school. He is the only player in Wharton High School (Tampa, Fla.) to achieve that mark. Jukes, a transfer from Alabama, will likely make a bigger impact this season after becoming eligible in the second half of the season. He’s a good swingman who can score and pull down rebounds.

The Bulldogs will have six freshmen on the roster this season, and each could see significant playing time.

UW-Milwaukee Panthers (14-16, 9-9, 4th)
Coach: Rob Jeter, third season (45-47)
Projected starters
Deonte Roberts, sophomore
Ricky Franklin, junior
Avery Smith, senior
James Eayers, junior (transfer from North Dakota State College of Science)
Burleigh Porte, junior
Key nonconference games
Nov. 14-16 at World Vision Classic, Ames, Iowa
Nov. 22 at Marquette
Nov. 25 Ball State
Nov. 29 at Wisconsin
Feb. 21 BracketBuster
Key losses: Paige Paulsen, Marcus Skinner, Allan Hanson
What to expect: It was a tumultuous season for the Panthers last season. They started the year 3-7, then won nine of their next 10 games before losing seven of its final nine games of the season.

It was a troubling season off the court as well as the Panthers lost two players during the course of the season, most notably Torre Johnson who was dismissed from the team following an arrest for suspicion of battery after allegedly hitting a woman in the mouth in December. Johnson, a transfer from Oklahoma State, was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder when he was dismissed.

This year, the Panthers will have their work cut out for them after losing Paulsen, the team’s leading scorer and a Second Team All-Horizon League selection last season. He averaged 13.3 points per game.

On a good note, the Panthers return Avery Smith to the roster after sitting all of last season because he was dismissed from the team prior to the season. Smith was reinstated this offseason.

He led the Panthers in scoring in 2006-07, averaging more than 15 points per game. He was a preseason All-Horizon League honoree before being dismissed from the team.

The Panthers also return Ricky Franklin, who started in 26 of 30 games, averaging 9.8 points per game, and Deonte Roberts, who was selected to the league’s All-Newcomer Team a year ago.

There will be growing pains this season with nine of the 18 players on the roster in their first year with the program. But Eayers could make an immediate impact. He’s 6-foot-7, and scored 1,156 points in two years at the North Dakota State College of Science. Last season, he averaged 24 points per game.

Valparaiso Crusaders (22-14, 9-9, 4th)
Coach: Homer Drew, 19th season (324-254 at Valpo, 593-376 overall)
Projected starters
Urule Igbavboa, senior
Jake Diebler, senior
Brandon McPherson, senior
Howard Little, sophomore
Michael Rogers, sophomore
Key nonconference games
Nov. 21-24 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam
Dec. 20 vs. North Carolina at United Center, Chicago
Dec. 28 at Purdue
Feb. 21 BracketBuster
Key losses: Shawn Huff, Jarryd Loyd
What to expect: Coach Homer Drew enters the season with 593 career victories. Eight other current head coaches have won at least 600 games. Hoping to get him to that historic mark will be Urule Igbavboa, who returns this season as the leading scorer from last year where he averaged 11 points per game, and is a preseason Hoopville honorable mention all-league member.

The Crusaders will have a strong backcourt tandem in Jake Diebler and Brandon McPherson. Both combined to average 15 points per game last season, and have played alongside each other in the past two seasons. McPherson is a good scorer, and Diebler is a solid guard. He had a 2.71 turnover-to-assist ratio last season, second-best in the league.

This is a veteran squad which should improve on its league record from a year ago. A tough nonconference schedule, like usual, will certainly help, including a matchup against North Carolina in December.

A strong recruiting class could provide an immediate impact. One of the gems of the class is De’Andre Haskins, who attended nearby La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind. Haskins averaged 27.5 points per game as a senior, and 31 as a junior. He is quick, athletic and versatile.

Loyola Ramblers (12-19, 6-12, 8th)
Coach: Jim Whitesell, fifth season (65-58)
Projected starters
J.R. Blount, senior
Andy Polka, junior
Ross Forman, junior
Leon Young, senior
Justin Cerasoli, senior
Key nonconference games
Nov. 17 NIT Season Tip-Off vs. Georgia, West Lafayette, Ind.
Nov. 18 NIT Season Tip-Off vs. Purdue or Eastern Michigan, West Lafayette, Ind.
Feb. 21 BracketBuster
Key loss: Tracy Robinson
What to expect: The Ramblers lost just one starter from last year (Robinson), so experience should be on the Ramblers’ side. Blount is the leading returning scorer after averaging 15 points per game as a junior. He is a Hoopville preseason all-league selection. There is solid depth after Blount, led by Polka, who averaged 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season, and senior Young, who averaged 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Cerasoli should play a role this season after averaging more than nine points per game in 2007-08.

Loyola will be a team which will hover around the middle of the conference and should improve on its 8th-place finish in the league standings a year ago. Fifth-year head coach Jim Whitesell has averaged 16 victories during his tenure.

Detroit Titans (7-23, 3-15, 10th)
Coach: Ray McCallum, first season (170-149 career record)
Projected starters
Woody Payne, junior
Eulis Stephens, junior
Jason Bennett, junior
Chris Hayes, senior
Michael Harrington, senior
Key nonconference games
Nov. 14 at Purdue
Nov. 26 at DePaul
Dec. 20 at Illinois
Feb. 21 at BracketBuster
Key loss: Coach Perry Watson
What to expect: In a tough season last year, which ultimately led the retirement of coach Perry Watson, the Titans are looking to retool, and so far they appear to be headed in the right direction. But it’ll likely be the 2009-10 season where the impact will be seen by the league.

First-year head coach Ray McCallum has brought in a strong recruiting class, which will eventually put Detroit back into the league championship discussion.

Former Central Michigan and Detroit Community High School product Chase Simon, former Indiana center Eli Holman, and Tallahassee Community College transfer Jason Bennett lead the catches for McCallum.

Simon is a local product who had a stellar high school career. As a senior, he averaged more than 23 points and seven rebounds per game in leading his team to the state quarterfinals. He was selected as a first-team Class C All-State performer by the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, The Associated Press and the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan.

Simon will redshirt this season, and will be eligible for the 2009-10 season in compliance with NCAA transfer rules. He played last season at Central Michigan where he played in 24 games, averaging nearly five points per game.

Holman was a recruit of McCallum’s at IU, and Holman decided to follow him to Detroit while IU goes through an overhaul.

Bennett will likely become one of the best shot blockers in league history. He will be the Titans’ tallest player in school history – 7-foot-3, 275 pounds.

Bennett, a top 50 product out of Arlington Country Day High School in Jacksonville, Fla., played one season at Kansas State before transferring to Tallahassee Community College. While at Kansas State, Bennett blocked a school-record eight shots in a game against Chicago State.

But also look for newcomers Thomas Kennedy and Xavier Keeling to make impacts as well.

Youngstown State Penguins (9-21, 5-13, 9th)
Coach: Jerry Slocum, third season (30-59, 610-384 overall)
Projected starters
Jack Liles, senior
Vytas Sulskis, sophomore
Vance Cooksey, sophomore
Mikko Niemi, senior
Dan Boulder, sophomore
Key nonconference games
Nov. 18 at Maryland
Feb. 21 BracketBuster
Key losses: Byron Davis, John Barber
What to expect: The Penguins will be young with eight first-year players. But the veterans they do have are solid, led by Jack Liles and Vytas Sulskis.

Liles and Sulskis averaged more than nine points per game last season. They will have to pick up the slack for losing Davis and Barber, who combined to average 29 points per game last season. Plus, the Penguins lost five players who played in at least 28 games last season. This season’s starting lineup could potentially have three sophomores in it.

The Penguins return just six letterwinners from last season.

A weak schedule should work in the Penguins’ favor with only the ESPN BracketBuster game and a date at Maryland posing as the only troubles.

Newcomers such as Sirlester Martin, DeAndre Mays and Tom Parks could provide solid impacts.

     

Butler Wins Horizon

by - Published March 13, 2008 in Columns



Bulldogs Finally Cut Down the Nets

by Bill Kintner

INDIANAPOLIS – This group of Butler seniors has been ranked since the third week of this season, and was ranked most of last year. They won last year’s Pre-season NIT and this year’s Great Alaskan Shootout. They have knocked off Ohio State, Maryland, Purdue, Tennessee, Michigan, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Florida State over the last two years. But they had not cut down the nets in the Horizon League Championship.

They can now cross that off of their to-do list, as they beat Cleveland State Tuesday night in the Horizon League Championship on their home court 70-55.

Early in the first half it looked like it would be a beat-down as Drew Streicher hit two three-pointers and Mike Green, Pete Campbell and A. J. Graves all hit three-pointers to go up 20-6 at the 13:24 mark.

But Cleveland State (21-12) regained their composure and fought back behind J’Nathan Bullock’s nine points to tie it at 34-34 on two free throws by Cedric Jackson with 1:50 remaining in the half. Two free throws by Green and another two by Graves sent Butler (29-3) into the locker room up 38-34.

In the second half the Bulldogs came out firing as Green and Streicher both hit three-pointers to put Butler up 43-36. But a three-pointer by Bullock and a layup by D’Audray Brown got the Vikings within two points at 43-41.

That is when Butler put the lockdown on Cleveland State, as during the next 10 minutes Cleveland State was held to just three points as Butler scored 17 points to go up 60-44.

According to Cleveland State coach Gary Waters, that was the difference in the game.

“They clamped down a little harder defensively and I thought they did a better job on us in the second half,” said Waters. “For about 10 minutes we had a hard time scoring. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

Butler coach Brad Stevens thought it was some adjustments they made in the second half and rebounding that allowed his team to open up the game in the second half.

“I thought our guys adjusted and did a better job on the glass. I thought the first two processions of the second half when we turned them over set a tone for the rest of the game,” explained Stevens.

From that point on Butler held a double-digit lead until the end.

“It is something we talked about from the beginning of the year we were setting our goals. None of us had ever cut down the nets in March,” said a relieved Streicher. “Fortunately we were able to play here at Hinkle. To cut them down here was very special. I think it is something we are going to treasure forever.”

Green led all scorers with 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Bullock led the Vikings with 21 points.

Notes

  • Butler has been nationally ranked (Top 25) for 33 weeks since November 27, 2006.
  • Butler set a new Horizon League record for the best two-year total with 57 victories since the start of last year.
  • This is Cleveland State’s first ever appearance in the Horizon League Finals.
  • As strange as this may seem this is the first time Cleveland State and Butler have met in the Horizon League Tournament.
  • Former Wright State coach Ed Schilling was in attendance sitting next to his father, former Butler player and Hall of Famer Big Ed Schilling.
  • Cleveland State had maybe 50 enthusiastic fans in attendance, which would be the most fans the Vikings have produced at a league tournament road game since they joined the Horizon League in 1994.
  • This is Butler’s first Horizon League Championship they have won on their home court.
  • At the end of the game about 40 Butler students from the Dawg Pound ran on to the court for the obligatory celebration on ESPN, while the other few hundred of the Dawg Pound Students stayed in their bleachers at the end of the court and cheered like this was just another win. The Dawg Pound had just a few hundred students tonight instead of the usual thousand or so they usually have. Their numbers are a little low since it is Spring Break on campus.
  • Brad Stevens had a little piece of the net in his pocket during the game tonight from 2001, Butler’s last Horizon League Championship.
  • This is Butler 5th championship since 1997, second only to Xavier’s six championships.
  • The all-tournament team:
    Mike Green, Butler (MVP)
    Matt Howard, Butler
    J’Nathan Bullock, Cleveland State
    Drew Streicher, Butler
    Jarryd Lloyd, Valpo

     

Horizon League Semifinal Recaps

by - Published March 10, 2008 in Columns



Three is the Magic Number as Horizon Championship Set

by Bill Kintner

INDIANAPOLIS – When Valparaiso beat Wright State yesterday for the third time this year three was the magic number. Tonight three was the magic number for Cleveland State as they beat Valpo for the third time this season with a 78-73 decision to advance to the Horizon League Championship game.

Cleveland State started the game on fire, going up 10-2 at the 17:09 mark. At that point Valpo (21-13) looked like a team was playing for the second time in 24 hours. Their shots were falling a little short and they seemed to be a step behind the Cleveland State players.

The Vikings’ lead was up to 18 points when J’Nathan Bullock popped in a three-pointer with 6:38 left in the half.

Cleveland State (21-11) was led by Cedric Jackson’s 11 first half points as they shot 51.7 percent (15-29) including 53.3 percent (8-15) from three-point land in the first half. At the same time Valpo was just 3-12 (25 percent) from three-point land and shooting just 39.3 percent (11-28) for the first half.

Valpo’s Shawn Huff was amazed at how Cleveland State’s players were hitting outside shots as his team packed it inside to try to stop them from dominating inside.

“They were just making shots. Everyone was making shots, everyone who came in made a shot,” said a dejected Huff. “They shot over 50 percent from threes. We didn’t want them to dominate the inside and we were going to take our chances with that and they made us pay.”

The Crusaders did manage to work the deficit down to six points by half time at 39-33 by going on a 15-3 run over the last six minutes of the half.

Coming out to start the second half the Vikings went on a 9-0 run over the first 1:47 to make it 48-33, ending when Valpo’s Shawn Huff made a layup.

At the 6:16 mark Jackson made a jumper to put Cleveland State up by nine at 63-54. Seven seconds later Valpo’s Jarryd Lloyd made a three-pointer.

Bullock responded with a layup, then a three-pointer by Huff, another by Lloyd followed by a layup by Lloyd and the score tied for the first time at 65-65. Breyohn Watson came right back and hit a three-pointer to give Cleveland State the lead for good.

“That play developed off Cedric’s (Jackson) penetration and he ended up finding me. I stepped into it and knocked it down,” explained Watson.

A few seconds later a jumper by Norris Cole and then two foul shots by Cole got the Viking lead up to seven at 72-65 with 44 seconds left.

Two late three-pointers by Lloyd got the score down as close as three points at 76-73 with 8 seconds remaining, but when Valpo fouled Cole he made both free throws and that was how it ended with the score at 78-73.

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters felt fortunate that his team withstood the runs that the Crusaders made.

“Let me just say that we had some big plays down the stretch by a number of people to finish that game out,” said Waters. “Even though we had leads in the game I have to give Valparaiso credit because they never gave up.”

Horizon League Semifinal: Butler/UIC

The script worked out just like it was planned. The 14th ranked team in the country and number one seed hosting the semifinal game pounds their opponent into submission to play in the championship game on their court Tuesday night.

Butler became the sixth straight number one seed to advance to the Horizon League Championship game by beating University of Illinois-Chicago 66-50.

This started out pretty well for UIC (18-15) as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a layup by Robert Bush and a lob from Stewart Spencer resulting in a thunderous dunk by Jermaine Dailey.

A quick layup by Mike Green and then a three-pointer by A. J. Graves put Butler (28-3) up 5-4 at the 17:35 mark. The Flames went back up by one when Dailey made a layup to make it 6-5 with 16:21 left.

UIC maintained a small lead until they finally pushed the lead up to five points when Scott Vandemeer was fouled by Butler’s Willie Veasley and made one of the two free throws to make it 16-11 at the 10:18 mark.

Butler went on an 18-2 run toward the end of the first half that resulted in a 10 point lead going into halftime at 34-24. The amazing thing was that Mike Green was responsible for 16 of the 18 points by either scoring or getting the assist.

Coming out of the half Butler continued the charge by going on a 19-5 run to push their lead to 24 points at 56-32 with 8:59 left in the game.

The Vikings whittled the lead down to 15 points with 2:07 remaining when Robert Kreps hit a three-pointer to make it 63-48. Two more free throws by Krebs and a three-pointer by Pete Campbell for Butler got the final score to 66-50.

Butler really put the game away from three-point land making 12 in 27 attempts (44.4 percent) and by just turning the ball over eight times.

Campbell, who was 5-10 from three-point land, said three-point shooting is what Butler looks to do.

“It is something we look to do. The important thing is when you hit shots like that you get stops on the other end. That’s what builds the lead and that’s what we need to do at certain points in the game,” explained Campbell.

Green led all scorers with 19 points, going 5-8 from the field and 8-10 from the charity stripe plus he had seven assists.

“Mike had a great game, no question about it. He has played like that all season,’ said Butler coach Brad Stevens. “He played with great poise and found different guys, he found the right guys at the right time.”

It wasn’t just Stevens praising Green. UIC coach Jimmy Collins thinks he may be the Horizon League Player of the Year.

“He is the player of the year. He is a tremendous leader for this team. Green looks to set up everybody else. When he doesn’t get that accomplished he scores,” said Collins.

Notes

  • Cleveland State is just the second Horizon League team to go from losing 20 games to winning 20 games in back-to-back seasons. Last year the Vikings were 10-21 and this year they are currently 21-11. The other team to do it was Xavier, going from 8-20 in 1981-82 to 22-8 the following year.
  • Former Butler Hall of Fame basketball player Ed Schilling so far has attended every session of the tournament, even when his Bulldogs were not playing.
  • By winning their first two games of the Horizon League Championship, Valpo was trying to be the second first-year team to win the championship since Green Bay did it in 1995. Green Bay beat another first-year team that year in the championship, Wright State.
  • Butler has won more Horizon League regular season titles (7) and tournament crowns (4) than any other active league member.
  • This is the 5th time in six years that the number two seed advanced to the finals of the Horizon League Championship since they switched to the current format giving the first and second seeds double byes.

     

Horizon League Tournament Recaps

by - Published March 8, 2008 in Columns



Valparaiso Knocks Off Wright State Again

by Bill Kintner

INDIANAPOLIS – There is a stick that Valparaiso has used three times this year to beat Wright State with. The Raiders are on the short end of it as they lost their third game in a row to the Crusaders 72-67 in the quarterfinals of the Horizon League Championship.

Earlier this year at Wright State, Valpo pulled out a 71-67 win, then last Saturday on ESPN2 Valpo beat the Raiders in overtime 75-73.

“It is a lot like the other games when we played Valpo. Three terrific basketball games, but unfortunately we came up on the short end of the stick each time,” said a very subdued Wright State coach Brad Brownell. “It is a very bitter pill to swallow, but this was a very good season. I am very proud of my kids we just didn’t get it done tonight.”

With 1:55 left in the game the score was tied at 65. Urule Igbavboa made one of two free throws to put Valpo (21-12) up by one.

After Wright State’s Scottie Wilson missed two free throws with 1:01 left, Valpo’s Brandon McPherson made two free throws with just 37 seconds left after getting fouled by Jordon Pleiman to make it 68-65.

Wright State (21-10) got back within one at 68-67 with 16 seconds left as Troy Tabler made two free throws after he was fouled by Shawn Huff.

The game ended after Valpo’s Jarryd Lloyd made four free throws after being fouled twice in the last 12 seconds of the game.

Lloyd had a lot going through his head at the end when he made the four big free throws. “I was praying actually that I would make them. We lost games on the free throw line and I was just going through my routine and it worked,” said Lloyd.

Wright State’s poor free throw shooting did them in. They made just four in ten attempts in the second half and shot just 43.8 percent (7-16) for the game. At the same time the Crusaders shot 84.2 percent (16-19) for the game.

“It came down to free throws. They can do it in their sleep sometimes because we’ve been practicing so much on free throws to put us in that winning situation,” explained the ever-smiling Valparaiso coach Homer Drew.

This game was tied 14 times and the lead changed 16 times. The largest lead of the game was just six points when Valpo lead the Raiders 22-16 at the 10:50 mark.

In the first half the lead see-sawed back and forth. Then in the last five minutes of the half, the biggest lead was two points when Wright State’s Vaughn Duggins made a 3-pointer with 3:55 left.

A free throw by Igbavboa at the 2:46 mark and then two by Lloyd with 1:38 left to put the Crusaders up by one at 37-36. A layup by Pleiman gave the Raiders a one-point lead with 51 seconds left at 38-37 and that was the score going into halftime.

Both teams had four players in double figures. For the Raiders, Wilson and Pleiman both scored 15 points while Will Graham and Duggins scored 13 points.

Valparaiso’s Huff led all scorers with 21 points, Igbavboa put in17 points, McPherson got 16 points and Lloyd chipped in 14 points.

Drew pointed to the balanced scoring as a factor in the win, saying, “We had four in double figures, which is the strength of our team. They really share the ball. They like each other and make the extra pass. Even when we’re small out there we play really, really big in the heart.”

Notes

  • Valpo had more fans than Wright State at the game thanks to a major snowstorm that hit SW Ohio but missed Indianapolis. That is one of the few times in the HL that WSU did not bring the most fans.
  • During a second half timeout there was a three-point shootout between two Valpo students and two WSU students sponsored by a local pizza joint. As each team’s fans cheered them on the Wright State students prevailed 6-4.
  • Wright State leads the all-time series 5-4.
  • This is a banner year for Division I basketball in Indiana with six teams achieving 20-win seasons. Those teams are Valpo, Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue, Butler and IUPUI.
  • Valpo plays Cleveland State tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the semifinals.

UIC beats Loyola

When a team doesn’t shoot well, doesn’t rebound well and doesn’t shoot free throws very well, there is a pretty good chance they are not going to win that night. That describes Loyola in their loss to UIC in the quarterfinals 60-49.

Loyola (12-19) shot a poor 38.3 percent (18-47), only made 56.3 percent (9-16) from the line and then got killed on the boards 36-20.

UIC (18-14) was not world-beaters, either, shooting just 36.2 percent (17-47) including just 3-15 from three-point land. But the rebounding margin and shooting 88.5 percent (23-26) from the free throw line provided them with their winning margin.

“It wasn’t pretty according to some bystanders and some of the people I talked to after the game, but it was a win for us and it was a win that was hard-fought, especially in the first half,” said UIC coach Jimmy Collins.

In the first half there were eight lead changes and five ties before Loyola’s Tracy Robinson hit a jumper with 53 seconds left to put them up 21-19 at the half. At that point the rebounding edge by UIC was small at 14-11. In the second half all heck broke lose as both teams clunked shot after shot but the Flames creamed Loyola in rebounding 22-9.

Loyola coach Jim Whitesell pointed to the bad shooting and the poor rebounding of his team as big factors in the loss.

“Give them a lot of credit, I don’t think either of us shot it great. Sometimes you have to get the extras like offensive rebounds,” said Whitesell. “That’s what they did. They didn’t shoot it well but they got some extra boards to make up for it. In a game like this, if you get two shots at a basket, or three, sometimes it gets you going.”

UIC helped keep Loyola off balance by frequently switching defenses from zone to man-to-man.

“It was a team effort. The coaches did a good job of switching us from zone to man to zone and we were able to contain them,” explained UIC’s Josh Mayo, who led all scorers with 17 points.

Robinson led Loyola with 15 points.

Notes

  • UIC leads the all-time series with Loyola 29-13.
  • There was no three-point shootout between students of UIC and Loyola because there weren’t any at the game. I think there may have been three UIC students but I didn’t see any Loyola students.
  • UIC plays Butler Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

     

Horizon Notebook

by - Published January 31, 2008 in Conference Notes



Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

Player of the Week: Marcus Skinner, UW-Milwaukee
Skinner averaged 15.5 points and 11 rebounds in two games last week for the Panthers, both victories over Youngstown State and Cleveland State. He posted collegiate-highs with 16 points and 12 rebounds in the victory over Youngstown State.

Butler Bulldogs (19-2 overall, 8-2 Horizon)
Last week: 2-0
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. Loyola – W 63-50
Jan. 26 vs. UIC – W 73-57
Freshman Matt Howard scored 20 points in the Bulldogs’ victory over UIC. It was his 12th consecutive game of scoring in double figures.
Senior Mike Green added 15 points against the Flames as well. Green is the only player in the league who is leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists.
A.J. Graves, who has been struggling of late, scored 16 points against UIC. It was his highest scoring output since scoring 17 against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 22.
This week, the Bulldogs will open a three-game road swing at Valparaiso in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN2.
This week’s game
Feb. 5 at Valparaiso (ESPN2)

Cleveland State (14-7, 7-2)
Last week: 0-2
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. UW-Green Bay – L 59-50
Jan. 26 vs. UW-Milwaukee – L 79-71
The Vikings lost a pair of games on the road in Wisconsin, opening up the Horizon League regular season title race. The Vikings were out-rebounded in both contests, and shot a season-low 28 percent from the field against UW-Green Bay.
Against UW-Milwaukee, junior Cedric Jackson posted his second double-double of the season, scoring 16 points with a collegiate-high 11 rebounds.
The Vikings will stay on the road this week, this time in Chicago for two.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 at Illinois-Chicago
Feb. 2 at Loyola

Detroit Titans (4-15, 0-9)
Last week: 0-1
Week recap
Jan. 26 vs. Wright State – L 66-57
Not much good has happened for Detroit this season.
After losing to Wright State, the Titans have lost 13 consecutive games, which is just one shy of tying the school record for most in a single season. The Titans lost 14 straight to open the 1987-88 season, a streak that doesn’t include losing the season finale the season before.
Junior Chris Hayes led Detroit with 16 points and six rebounds, and Jon Goode scored 17 points to register double figures in scoring for the 13th straight game.
Goode leads the league in scoring at 19.5 points per game, including 22.8 per game during league play.
Detroit will host two tough teams this week, starting with red-hot UW-Milwaukee.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 vs. UW-Milwaukee
Feb. 2 vs. UW-Green Bay

Illinois-Chicago Flames (10-10, 4-5)
Last week: 0-2
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. Valparaiso – L 60-56
Jan. 26 vs. Butler – L 73-57
The Flames are happy to be back home.
UIC is 2-9 away from home this season (8-1 at home) after losing a pair of games on the road at Valparaiso and Butler.
Scott VanderMeer scored nine points against Valparaiso, but grabbed a collegiate-high 21 rebounds in the loss. He became just the fourth player in league history to grab at least 20 rebounds in a single game, and also became UIC’s all-time leader in blocked shots after three blocks against Valparaiso. He has 166 blocks in two years, which eclipsed Sherell Ford’s record of 164 (1992-95).
Junior Josh Mayo leads the country in 3-point shooting accuracy at 53.4 percent and ranks second in the league in scoring at 17.8 points per game. He has reached double figures in scoring in 19 of 20 games this season, and needs just two points to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Sophomore Spencer Stewart returned to the lineup against Valparaiso, his first action in six games.
The Flames host two of the three Ohio schools this week, including Cleveland State.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 vs. Cleveland State
Feb. 2 vs. Youngstown State

Loyola Ramblers (7-13, 3-7)
Last week: 1-1
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. Butler – L 63-50
Jan. 26 vs. Valparaiso – W 65-63
If you’re going to reach a milestone, it doesn’t hurt to win the game at the same time.
J.R. Blount hit a shot with four seconds left against Valparaiso to give the Ramblers an upset victory on the road. Blount scored 19 points, giving him 1,000 points in his career at Loyola. He became the fourth league player this year to eclipse 1,000 career points, joining Green Bay’s Mike Schachtner, Detroit’s Jon Goode, and Cleveland State’s J’Nathan Bullock.
In a loss at Butler, sophomore Andy Polka scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Loyola will return home this week for a pair of games.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 vs. Youngstown State
Feb. 2 vs. Cleveland State

UW-Green Bay Phoenix (11-8, 5-4)
Last week: 2-0
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. Cleveland State – W 59-50
Jan. 26 vs. Youngstown State – W 66-58
The Phoenix defense was stingy this week, holding Cleveland State and Youngstown State to an average of 54 points – leading to two victories.
Junior Terry Evans scored a collegiate-high 16 points and added eight rebounds against Cleveland State. By beating the Vikings, the Phoenix snapped CSU’s six-game win streak.
Junior Mike Schachtner scored just five points against CSU, but did grab 10 rebounds to set a new collegiate high. Schachtner is third in the league in scoring at 17.2 points per game.
The Phoenix, who rallied from halftime deficits in both games, defense has held each of their past three opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field.
UWGB will play five of its next seven games on the road, starting at Wright State on Thursday.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 at Wright State
Feb. 2 at Detroit

UW-Milwaukee Panthers (12-8, 7-3)
Last week: 2-0
Week recap
Jan. 24 – vs. Youngstown State – W 76-69
Jan. 26 – vs. Cleveland State – W 79-71
Milwaukee, since losing to Wisconsin on Dec. 12 to drop to 3-7, has won nine of its past 10 games, after beating Youngstown State and Cleveland State at home. UWM has found a niche to playing close games, winning eight of the 11 close games it’s been in this season.
Senior Paige Paulsen led UWM with 24 points and nine rebounds against Youngstown State. He then followed that up with a 13-point, 11-rebound effort against Cleveland State. Paulsen is fifth in the league in scoring at 15.3 points per game.
The Panthers grabbed 32 offensive rebounds in the two games and have collected at least 10 offensive rebounds in 17 of 20 games so far this season.
The Panthers hit the road for a pair this week, starting at Detroit.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 at Detroit
Feb. 2 at Wright State

Valparaiso Crusaders (14-7, 5-4)
Last week: 1-1
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. UIC – W 60-56
Jan. 26 vs. Loyola – L 65-63
The Crusaders have made it a habit of playing in close games in this league season. Of the first nine league contests, six have been decided by six points or less.
Sophomore Samuel Haanpaa led Valpo with 15 points against UIC. All of his points came off of 3-pointers, making it the 16th time in his career he’s hit at least four 3-pointers in a single game.
Valparaiso won’t play another game for nine days, but it will be a big one when instate rival Butler comes to town on national television (ESPN2).
This week’s game:
Feb. 5 vs. Butler (ESPN2)

Wright State Raiders (12-6, 5-4)
Last week: 1-0
Week recap
Jan. 26 vs. Detroit – W 66-57
The Raiders finished off a three-game road swing with a perfect record. The Raiders are now 6-3 away from the Nutter Center this season.
Sophomore Todd Brown led the way for the Raiders, scoring 18 points. Seniors Scottie Wilson and Jordan Pleiman added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The Raiders will play the next three games at home, and will be the busiest team this week in the Horizon League. WSU will play three games in six days starting with UWGB on Jan. 31.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 vs. UW-Green Bay
Feb. 2 vs. UW-Milwaukee
Feb. 4 vs. Presbyterian

Youngstown State Penguins (7-13, 3-7)
Last week:
Week recap
Jan. 24 vs. UW-Milwaukee – L 76-69
Jan. 26 vs. UW-Green Bay – L 66-58
The Penguins have dropped four straight games after losing a pair on the road in Wisconsin to Green Bay and Milwaukee.
Freshman Vytas Sulskis averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the two losses for the Penguins.
Senior Mike Barber registered his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Milwaukee. Senior Byron Davis scored 22 points against Milwaukee as well.
YSU remains on the road with a pair of games in Chicago. YSU has the opportunity to sweep either Loyola or Chicago for the first time in school history.
This week’s games
Jan. 31 at Loyola
Feb. 2 at Illinois-Chicago

     

Horizon Notebook

by - Published January 16, 2008 in Conference Notes



Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

Player of the Week: Matt Howard, Butler. The freshman from Connersville, Ind., averaged 19.3 points and seven rebounds per game in leading the Bulldogs to three victories. He scored 22 points on Jan. 10 against Green Bay.

Butler Bulldogs (16-1 overall, 5-1 Horizon League)
Last week’s record: 3-0
Week recap:
Jan. 7 vs. Loyola: W 66-55
Jan. 10 vs. UW-Green Bay: W 74-65
Jan. 12 vs. UW-Milwaukee: W 72-56
Only top-ranked North Carolina has more victories in the country this season than the Bulldogs, who are off to their best start in school history. Senior guard Mike Green has scored in double figures in eight consecutive games – the same streak as the Bulldogs’ win streak.
This week, the Bulldogs will play two games in Ohio, including a battle for first-place against Cleveland State on Jan. 17.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 at Cleveland State
Jan. 19 at Youngstown State

Cleveland State Vikings (12-5, 5-0)
Last week’s record: 2-0
Week recap:
Jan. 10 vs. Detroit: W 74-64
Jan. 12 vs. Wright State: W 65-63
For years, the Vikings were looking up at the rest of the league. This year, they’re looking down as they lead the league just shy of the halfway point of the league season. The Vikings are 5-0 in league play, which is their best start since the 1992-93 season. The 12-5 mark is also their best mark in 15 seasons.
This week, eyes will be on J’Nathan Bullock, who just needs 20 points to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. This week, the Vikings will be tested when Butler comes to town in what should draw the biggest home game crowd since North Carolina came in a few seasons ago. Then, on Jan. 19, the Crusaders come to town.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 vs. Butler
Jan. 19 vs. Valparaiso

Detroit Titans (4-12, 0-6)
Last week’s record: 0-2
Week recap:
Jan. 10 vs. Cleveland State: L 74-64
Jan. 12 vs. Youngstown State: L 70-66
The Titans have lost 10 straight games, making a 4-2 start seem a distant memory. Detroit last won Nov. 28 against Eastern Michigan.
Senior Jon Goode did become the 34th player in school history to score at least 1,000 career points with a 21-point effort against Youngstown State. He now has 1,014 points. Goode also ranks second in the league in scoring at 18.1 points per game.
The 10-game slide is the longest since a 12-game losing streak in 1998-99. The Titans will head to Chicago for a pair of game in hopes of preventing the school’s longest losing streak.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 at Loyola
Jan. 19 at Illinois-Chicago

Illinois-Chicago Flames (9-7, 3-2)
Last week’s record: 1-0
Week recap:
Jan. 12 vs. Loyola: W 78-68 (2 OT)
In 2002, Loyola and Illinois-Chicago battled in overtime for the Horizon League tournament championship. On Jan. 12, they were at it again. Only this time it was in double overtime. The Flames won both instances. The victory on Jan. 12 snapped a three-game slide, and kicked off a three-game home stand on a positive note.
Junior guard Josh May led the Flames with a 20-point effort, and Scott VanderMeer scored 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Senior guard Karl White Jr. chipped in with 19 points.
This week, the Flames continue their home stand where they have been tough to outscore. The Flames are averaging 82 points per game at home, compared to 63 on the road. Wright State and Detroit come to Chicago this week.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 vs. Wright State
Jan. 19 vs. Detroit

Loyola Ramblers (5-11, 1-5)
Last week’s record: 0-2
Week recap:
Jan. 7 vs. Butler: L 66-55
Jan. 12 vs. Illinois-Chicago: L 78-68 (2 OT)
The Ramblers have lost at least four consecutive games for the second time this season. Earlier this year, Loyola lost five straight, and are just 3-11 since a 2-0 start, including dropping six of their past seven games.
Junior Justin Cerasoli scored a collegiate-high 21 points in the loss to the Flames. Cerasoli has averaged 13.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in seven games since becoming eligible following his transfer from Mississippi.
Junior J.R. Blount scored 23 points, his highest single-game effort since a 27-point game at Cleveland State last season.
The Ramblers hope a pair of home games will reverse some misfortunes. Loyola is 1-7 away from home this season, but are 4-4 at home.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 vs. Detroit
Jan. 19 vs. Wright State

UW-Green Bay Phoenix (9-7, 3-3)
Last week’s record: 0-2
Week recap:
Jan. 10 vs. Butler: L 74-65
Jan. 12 vs. Valparaiso: L 82-73
Junior Mike Schachtner scored 34 points in the Phoenix’s loss to Valparaiso, matching the league’s highest scoring game this season. UIC’s Josh Mayo scored 34 points against Bradley on Nov. 10. Schachtner leads the league in scoring at 18.3 points per game. The Phoenix, as a team, rank sixth in the nation in free-throw percentage at 76.8 percent.
This week, the Phoenix host instate rival UW-Milwaukee.
This week’s game:
Jan. 19 vs. UW-Milwaukee

UW-Milwaukee Panthers (9-8, 4-3)
Last week’s record: 2-1
Week recap:
Jan. 7 vs. Youngstown State: W 61-39
Jan. 10 vs. Valparaiso: W 71-69
Jan. 12 vs. Butler: L 72-56
What looked like was going to be a rough season has turned into a promising one. The Panthers have lost a number of players for various reasons, including elite scorers Avery Smith and Torre Johnson, this season. But prior to the Panthers’ loss to Butler, the Panthers strung together six straight victories, last losing to Wisconsin on Dec. 12. The nine victories have already matched last season’s total win total.
Junior guard Deion James led the Panthers against Valparaiso with 20 points off the bench. And, against Youngstown State, the Panthers were a perfect 15-for-15 from the free-throw line.
The lone game on the schedule this week is an hour-and-a-half trip north to Green Bay to play the Phoenix.
This week’s game:
Jan. 19 at UW-Green Bay

Valparaiso Crusaders (12-5, 3-2)
Last week’s record: 1-1
Week recap:
Jan. 10 vs. UW-Milwaukee: L 71-69
Jan. 12 vs. UW-Green Bay: W 82-73
Valparaiso’s 13-game home court win streak came to an end with a two-point setback to Milwaukee on Jan. 10.
Senior guard Jarryd Loyd came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points, marking the fourth consecutive game he led the Crusaders in scoring. Sophomore Samual Haanpaa scored 24 points to lead the Crusaders against the Phoenix. Loyd has not started a game this season, but still leads the team in scoring at 12.2 per game.
This week, the Crusaders hit the road to renew acquaintances with old Mid-Continent Conference rival Youngstown State. Then it’s off to league-leading Cleveland State.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 at Youngstown State
Jan. 19 at Cleveland State

Wright State Raiders (9-6, 2-4)
Last week’s record: 1-1
Week recap:
Jan. 10 vs. Youngstown State: W 66-55
Jan. 12 vs. Cleveland State: L 65-63
The defending league tournament champions split last week’s games with instate rivals Youngstown State and Cleveland State. In four of the Raiders’ six league games thus far, the final margin was decided by five points or less with the Raiders going 1-3 in those games.
Junior guard Vaughn Duggins scored 34 points with nine assists in the two games.
The injury bug has bit the Raiders also. Sophomore John David Gardner will miss four to six weeks with a broken bone in his left foot, and junior Gavin Horne will continue to miss at least another week with a sprained ankle.
The Raiders have a pair of games in Chicago this week with Illinois-Chicago and Loyola.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 at Illinois-Chicago
Jan. 19 at at Loyola

Youngstown State Penguins (7-9, 3-3)
Last week’s record: 1-2
Week recap:
Jan. 7 vs. UW-Milwaukee: L 61-39
Jan. 10 vs. Wright State: L 66-55
Jan. 12 vs. Detroit: W 70-66
The Penguins salvaged a rough start to a busy week with a victory over slumping Detroit, 70-66. This year, the Penguins are 7-0 when leading at halftime, and 0-9 when trailing after 20 minutes. In the victory over Detroit, the Penguins hit 11 3-pointers, marking the 11th time in coach Jerry Slocum’s three-year tenure at YSU that the Penguins have made at least 10 3-pointers in a game.
This week, the Penguins host the Crusaders for the first time since Feb. 10, 2001. Then Butler comes to town.
This week’s games:
Jan. 17 vs. Valparaiso
Jan. 19 vs. Butler

     

Butler Beats Valparaiso

by - Published January 6, 2008 in Columns



Basketball in Indiana: Butler beats Valpo

by Bill Kintner

INDIANAPOLIS – It is Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis and historic Hinkle Fieldhouse is the place to be for college basketball fans in Central Indiana. The 7,000-plus fans came to see two of the top so-called mid-major programs not only in the state of Indiana but in the country.

The 16th-ranked Bulldogs are playing Horizon League newcomer Valparaiso in a game that will go a long way in determining the winner of the Horizon League.

The Crusaders won their first two road games in their first year in the Horizon League. They beat Wright State in their first Horizon League game 71-66, which was their first win of the year against a top 50 RPI team, then followed that up with a win at Detroit. Valparaiso’s three losses were road games against Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

In the crowd today is Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, an Indiana University grad who likes to watch a top 20 team without having to drive 90 minutes to Bloomington. Governor Mitch Daniels, a frequent visitor to Hinkle, didn’t make today’s Indiana match-up.

Today’s game is between two private schools each with about 4,000 students that really believe in the concept of student athletes. Both teams recruit kids that are coachable and that understand the importance of getting a good education.

Both coaches are models of class. Valpo’s coach Homer Drew is known for his positive demeanor on the sideline and gracious comments once the game is over. During the game he is always clapping his hands in encouragement and slapping his players on the back as they pass by. Brad Stevens, the Butler coach, is just 31 years old, but he has the calm demeanor of an experienced coach that has the situation well-under control. The classic Stevens pose on the side lines is left leg forward, knees bent, his back hunched over and vigorously clapping his hands in encouragement.

In today’s game it was the Crusaders committing 16 turnovers and Butler making 28-33 (84.8 percent) at the foul line that denied Valparaiso a 3-0 start in the Horizon League as Butler wins 73-65.

It was not a pretty game by either team, but Valparaiso (11-4, 2-1HL) started off pretty well. In the first half the Crusaders jumped out to a 4-0 lead after Shawn Huff made two free throws and Jake Diebler made a layup.

Playing at the speed of a couple of Post Office workers, Valpo pulled ahead by nine at 15-6 at the 12:39 mark.

Finally, at the 1:30 mark Butler (13-1, 2-1HL) took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Mike Green to make it 31-29. Just 24 seconds later, Valparaiso’s Jarryd Loyd made a layup to tie the game at 31-31, and that was how it ended going into the locker rooms at halftime.

After scoring just seven points in the first half for Butler, Mike Green turned it on in the latter frame, scoring 17 points on four baskets and going 11-14 from the foul line to help put the game away for the Bulldogs.

Stevens thought that not only did Green lead the team in scoring, but he led then by coming back strong in the second half after a shaky first half performance.

“It was a mature performance from Mike (Green),” said Stevens. “It didn’t start off great. When Mike starts off like that but then picks it up for himself that shows the younger guys that it is okay. Mike’s value goes far beyond making baskets and making assists. He is leading guys all the time and his resiliency was why we were able to win today.”

Drew pointed to Green as the dagger that put his team under.

“Green did a really good job in breaking us down and creating things for himself and his teammates,” said Drew.

The Crusaders took a brief three point lead at 36-33 at the 16:34 mark on a 3-pointer by Brandon McPherson. A layup by Butler’s Matt Howard cut the Crusader lead to one at 36-35 and then a 3-pointer by Green put the Bulldogs up for good at 38-36 with 15:06 left in the game.

Butler got the lead up to 11 points on a free throw by A. J. Graves after being fouled by Loyd to make it 64-53 with 2:12 left. Valpo worked it down to a five-point deficit on a 3-pointer by Diebler and a 3-pointer by Loyd but that was as close they got.

Loyd led Valpo with 15 points.

Valpo will certainly be playing a lot more tough games as they try to position themselves for a run in the Horizon League Tournament. They have lost to four teams with a combined 54-3 record.

The game is long over as I type this and it is dark outside. Besides me, it is just Indianapolis Star writer David Woods here in a darkened Hinkle Fieldhouse. I don’t think either of us really wants to leave as we enjoy the quiet in this sacred temple of basketball.

I don’t know about Woods, but I can almost see Oscar Robertson streaking down the court here 20 feet in front of me. I can almost see Big Ed Schilling elbow an opponent as he goes up for a rebound, or maybe Steve Alford sinking 25-foot shots on this vary court where he once score 50 points in a high school game.

The clean-up crew has long left after giving up on us to clear out so they can clean up.

I may just find a ball and shoot some shots – what a way to spend a Saturday night!

     

College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

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Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
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Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
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Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
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