LaVonte Dority eager for Valparaiso debut
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137, email@example.com December 13, 2012 11:04PM
Pic 4 - Foreman's Lavonte Dority moves past Alfonzo McKinnie of Marshall. Foreman vs. Marshall in CPS holiday tournament on 12/21/09...credit: Patrick Gleason/S-T media
The Big Number
282 — Valparaiso’s national ranking (of 345 teams) in turnovers, averaging 16.2 per game, after committing a season-high 23 at New Mexico. The Crusaders also rank 264th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.77) and 251st in turnover margin (minus-1.6).
With finals week, Valparaiso has been practicing in the morning — not quite Northern-Illinois-ESPN-Tip-Off-Marathon early, but bright and early nonetheless.
“This is our only window all day, so it makes it hard,” Crusaders coach Bryce Drew said. “Finals is probably the worst week of practice of the year. We have a lot of very good students and they study a lot for exams, so sometimes I can tell when they come to practice they just look like they’ve been studying for the last five hours. … We give them time, we don’t pound them during this week because we know that finals are pretty demanding at Valpo, so we understand that it’s probably not going to be a great week of practice because guys are focused on other things and they should be.”
Updated: January 15, 2013 11:47AM
VALPARAISO — From his vantage point on the bench, LaVonte Dority gained a certain amount of perspective.
“That was my main concentration, just focusing on things we need, and trying my best to add something when it’s my time to step on the floor,” the Valparaiso junior point guard said.
Well, that time has arrived for Dority. Enough of the knowledge-gathering, enough of the spectator status. After transferring from South Florida and sitting out the first nine games in the first semester, Dority will make his debut in a Crusaders uniform on Saturday night at Missouri State.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Dority said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played organized basketball, so I’m just excited to play with the team. It’s been just practicing, so it’ll be good to get into a game situation.
“I’m going to be excited and anxious, but I’ll have to pull everything together, be calm and just play my game.”
That game of the powerfully built, 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has been described as explosive. Dority gives Valparaiso another ballhandler, with senior Erik Buggs having been the only true point guard on the Crusaders active roster.
“He definitely has some speed, especially speed with the basketball to be able to get in the lane,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “He’s been shooting the ball well in practice. He’s just a very physically strong, tough kid, tough player.”
Dority should see significant minutes immediately.
“A lot’s just feel of the game,” Drew said. “But he’ll go in right away, he’s going to play right away. From there, it’s just like any other player — it’s how the flow of the game’s going and how they’re doing individually and how the team’s doing when they’re out there.
“He’s in practice condition; the game’s a little different. He’ll be huffing and puffing the first couple minutes, but he’ll be out there quick.”
Dority began his college career in the Big East at South Florida, after graduating from Chicago’s Foreman High. He was a three-star prospect and, according to ESPN and Scout.com, one of the nation’s top 50 point guards, averaging 20.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds as a senior in high school; he received a slew of high-major offers, including reportedly from Indiana and Baylor, and possibly Kansas.
As a sophomore for the Bulls last season, Dority played in nine games, averaging 3.0 points and shooting 5-of-11 from 3-point range, after appearing in 26 games as a reserve as a freshman. He had started the first seven of those 2011-12 games, with his minutes declining from 30 in the season opener to one and two, respectively, in the two games in which he came off the bench. He opted to transfer, committing to Valparaiso in late March, with Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Florida International and USC among the other schools also expressing interest.
“Things didn’t work out basketball-wise (at South Florida), the system wasn’t for me, so I decided to pick another program,” said Dority, who attended Triton College, a junior college in River Grove, Ill., last spring. “Valpo is close to home, the coaching staff and players are great, and I thought I would fit great in the system, and I’m loving the system. … It’s an up-and-down tempo-type game we play, so it definitely fits with what I like to do.
“I bring a lot of intensity to the team. I love to set the tone on defense, as well as score the ball a little bit, and create for others. I’ve been trying to pay attention to some of the things we need that I’ve seen from the bench.”
And now he has the opportunity to turn those observations into actions.