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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

March 19, 2008 at 8:19 AM

Scouting Valpo

For my preview story today, I quoted Lorenzo Romar saying that if the Huskieis had played the entire season the way they played the last month, they’d be in the NCAA Tournament right now.
The Huskies can’t really prove that with anything they do in the CBI. But they can disprove it by not lasting very long in this thing. In fact, a loss tonight at home against Valparaiso might almost be worse than not having played in this tournament at all.
And while UW is a 10-point favorite, there are reasons for worry. First, Jon Brockman may not play, and will be limited if he does.
Second is the opponent, a team that plays the kind of style that can pull off March upsets, heavy on good three-point shooters and an ability to score quickly.
“They live and die by the three,” said someone I talked with who has seen Valpo play often this season. “On the nights they hit 50 percent they destroy people, when they hit 30 percent, they lose.”
Roughly 44 percent of Valpo’s field goal attempts this year were three-pointers — 808 of 1843. (By comparison, UW has attempted 528 three-pointers out of 1951 shots, 27 percent).
One of Valpo’s best three-point shooters, Samuel Haanpaa, won’t play tonight, still battling mono. He hit 43 percennt on the season. But three others who hit at least 49 or more this season will play tonight — 6-7 forward Shawn Huff (88-182), 6-0 guard Jarryd Loyd (51-140) and 6-1 guard Brandon McPherson (49-121).
Loyd is also essentially the point guard though he usually comes off the bench. McPherson is also now something of a sixth man as Valpo has altered its lineup a bit of late, going lately with 6-6 freshman Michael Rogers as one guard. He’s regarded as one of the more athletic players on the team and has had some big rebound totals of late.
Also a starting guard for Valpo is 6-3 Jake Diebler, who is the team’s defensive stopper and the man sure to guard Ryan Appleby tonight.
Valpo’s best player up front is 6-9 junior forward Urule Igbavboa, who averages a team-high 7.4 rebounds per game. The other starting big man is 6-11, 245-pound freshman Bryan Bouchie, who averages just 16.7 minutes per game, his playing time often subject to favorable matchups.
Valpo has usually been known as a more deliberate team offensively, but the Crusaders have more athleticism than some years and are running more as a result, averaging 71.1 points per game (not far off UW’s 73.3 total).
The Crusaders don’t apply much defensive pressure, however, and were one of the worst in the nation in steals (163 in 34 games this year compared to UW’s 202 in 32).
Valpo started 10-1, its best start ever, and finished 7-2. In between was a five-game losing streak that coincided with a viral infection that hit a number of players. But other than Haanpaa, the team is healthy now.
Valpo also had a few games that it blew late, losing three games by five points or less during that stretch. Valpo lost an eight-point lead in the last 80 seconds against Loyola, for instance.
The big question is level of competition. Valpo plays in the Horizon League, and outside of conference, played three games against “power conference” teams, losing at Vanderbilt 87-78, Wisconsin 68-58 and North Carolina 90-58. But Vanderbilt led both Wisconsin and Vanderbilt fairly late (Valpo was tied with Wisconsin with three minutes to go and led Vandy with 10 minutes left). The Carolina game was actually tied with 17 minutes left before the Tar Heels went on a 27-2 run.
Ultimately, people say, Valpo’s a pretty simple team to read.
“It really comes down to hitting their shots,” one person said. “They are one of those live-by-the-three, die-by-the-three teams.”

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