Valparaiso set for road game against lone currently ranked team on schedule
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137, firstname.lastname@example.org December 6, 2012 11:22PM
New Mexico's Hugh Greenwood, left, scores 2 of his game-high 17 points against Southern California's Eric Wise in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. New Mexico won 75-67. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
The Big Number
Valparaiso’s consecutive losses to ranked opponents. In their Division I history, the Crusaders have only two such wins: Some game against No. 13 Mississippi in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament; and against No. 19 and previously undefeated Notre Dame on Dec. 17, 1988, 71-68 in overtime at home in Homer Drew’s first season, the so-called “Lutheran Miracle.”
In his fourth game back since undergoing hernia surgery, junior forward Bobby Capobianco played 17 minutes against IPFW, matching his high total. He had nine points and four rebounds, after going scoreless in 10 minutes at Saint Louis.
“From a body standpoint, I’m feeling good,” Capobianco said. “... But there are still things that I can get better at, still areas I can improve on. The team has helped encourage me. … I feel good, and I’m happy to be back.”
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:33AM
VALPARAISO — Even with the quality and challenging nature of Valparaiso’s schedule this season, New Mexico is the only ranked opponent on it, at least at the moment.
The Lobos (9-0) check in at No. 18 in the Associated Press poll and No. 20 in the coaches’ poll. They’re approximately a top 35 team in various other ratings. And they’re even No. 6 in the RPI.
So it would be quite the coup for the Crusaders (6-2) to venture into the venue known as “The Pit” and slither out with a win on Saturday night.
“I’m excited,” junior forward Bobby Capobianco said. “It’s always a good opportunity to get to go out and play a good team. But I think this team is humble enough to know that we have to win every single game that we play. We have to look at every single game as the utmost important game, because they’re all going to count at the end of the year.
“Personally, I’m excited to go. I enjoy playing on the road, I like going especially to a gym like New Mexico, which does have that sort of history and that sort of hype around it. I’m excited to go out and do that, but we have to focus on doing what we do, and coming back with a win.”
New Mexico, coached by former Indiana star Steve Alford, returned three starters from a team that shared the Mountain West regular-season title, won the tournament championship, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
Kendall Williams, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, averages 14.1 points per game, a preseason all-conference first-team selection after making the second team last season; Tony Snell, a 6-7 junior guard, averages 12.2; and Alex Kirk, a 7-0 sophomore center, averages 11.7 points and 8.8 rebounds, having redshirted last season after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.
“I’m excited,” senior forward Ryan Broekhoff said. “It’s a big opportunity for us. I actually know Hugh Greenwood (a 6-3 sophomore starting guard from the Australian Institute of Sport, who also was one of the final cuts for the 2012 Australian Olympic team); we played a couple years back home in Australia, so it will be good to go out and play against him for the first time since he’s been in New Mexico. I’m just excited for a big opportunity.”
The Crusaders continue to get closer to reaching full strength.
“It’s been an interesting start to the season,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “With this team, it’s going to change game to game depending on matchups, depending on who’s playing well. Sometimes it’s who’s healthy. … Hopefully we can get some good practice time and we can practice some different combinations. Sometimes you’re seeing different combinations on the floor for the first time. … It’s kind of trial and error during the game sometimes.”
Around the rim: Valparaiso and New Mexico have played only one other time, on Dec. 29, 1959, at a tournament in Detroit, an 80-76 win for the Lobos. … Following New Mexico, after a week between games because of finals, the Crusaders play two games in a span of three days, both on the road, at Missouri State on Dec. 15 and at Oakland on Dec. 17.