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Balanced Valparaiso cruises to victory

Valparaiso's Erik Buggs IUPUI's Donovan Gibbs battle for rebound first half Valparaiso University Thursday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Valparaiso's Erik Buggs and IUPUI's Donovan Gibbs battle for the rebound in the first half at Valparaiso University Thursday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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The Big Number

The consecutive starts senior point guard Erik Buggs had made, dating to the 2010-11 season, before coming off the bench on Thursday night.

The Bonus

Valparaiso committed a season-low eight turnovers against IUPUI, with that area having been an ongoing issue so far this season.

“I think only two guys fainted in the locker room when we read that stat, so it wasn’t too bad,” Crusaders coach Bryce Drew joked. “We’ve been working on it a lot in practice, we’ve been talking about it a lot. I think a lot of it is just them feeling comfortable with who’s on the floor, and also just being comfortable to know what exactly the coaches are looking for. … I thought the guys really took care of the ball probably the best they have all season.”

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Updated: January 22, 2013 10:12AM



VALPARAISO — Perhaps too big a deal is made of such things.

But for the first time in 12 games this season, Valparaiso altered its starting lineup, with LaVonte Dority and Matt Kenney getting the call, and Erik Buggs and Will Bogan coming off the bench.

The Crusaders actually fell behind by seven points against IUPUI early in Thursday night’s game. But they still had plenty to defeat the Jaguars 89-69 at the Athletics-Recreation Center, improving to 6-0 at home this season.

“It’s not a big difference,” Ryan Broekhoff said when asked about the lineup. “The five guys on the floor, whether it changes up or stays the same, we have confidence that those five guys, they’ll all bring energy and bring the intensity we need to start each game. It doesn’t really matter who starts. I know that they’re going to give it their all.”

Valparaiso (8-4) used an 18-2 run to build a 67-46 cushion with 11:07 left. IUPUI (4-10), which had led 42-40 a minute into the second half, drew as close as 69-61 with 5:29 left, but the Crusaders pulled away down the stretch.

“With this team, the unique thing, and the nice thing about it, is there are a lot of combinations that can work,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “The other thing abut the team, they understand that our team has a lot of different starters; sometimes it’s just the five that help get our best rotation going. I don’t really view it as starters; I view it as, we’re a team, and all the combinations basically need to work. If you have to tweak the stating lineup to make it work better, we’ll do that.”

Indeed, the Crusaders had considerable balance against the Jaguars, placing five players in double-figure scoring.

Broekhoff — who sat out two-plus minutes in the first half after turning his right ankle — had 17 points, nine rebounds (Valparaiso held a whopping 41-21 advantage) and four assists. Kenney had 15 points and six assists. Kevin Van Wijk — the Crusaders seemed to make a concerted effort to get him the ball inside, especially early in the game — also had 15 points, before fouling out with 6:45 left. Ben Boggs had a season-high 12 points, and Bobby Capobianco added 10 and seven boards.

Starting particularly seemed to agree with Kenney.

“Basically, just play as hard as I can, run the floor,” he said. “We talked a lot before the game … just getting out on the break, rebounding and go, playing real good ‘D,’ just hands everywhere, being a team. Basically, Coach just wants five guys our there who are going to play hard and play as a team.”

The Jaguars — who were paced in scoring by Purdue transfer John Hart, who had a game-high 18 points — led 12-5 four minutes into the game, but the Crusaders led 40-38 at halftime. Valparaiso shot 53.6 percent from the field in the first half, and IUPUI 50.0, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range. But the Crusaders limited the Jaguars, who entered the game shooting 34.7 percent from 3, to 1-of-5 from deep in the second half.

“At the start of the second half, LaVonte did a great job kind of turning his defense up; he pressured his guy,” Kenney said. “And then Buggy (Buggs) came in and he pressured his guy. It all started with Buggy and LaVonte pressuring at the start. It made it difficult for them to pass and get it into their offense, and then a lot of the wings, too, pressured them. It was just hard for them to get off their double ball-screen or throw it back to their replace guy. We just got up in them.”

Said Drew: “I thought our defense was the best defensive pressure we’ve played for the whole 40 minutes this season.”

The Crusaders bounced back nicely from Monday’s loss at Oakland.

“It was needed,” Broekhoff said of this win. “Obviously, we were very disappointed with how the last game went. We wanted to come out and make a statement. We had a really good practice yesterday, our spirits were up. We wanted to be able to transfer that to a game; sometimes we’ve had trouble with that. So it was important.

“We started with energy, and they made some tough shots at the start of the game, no doubt about it. But we knew that if we continued to keep that intensity, keep that pressure, that eventually we’d be able to wear them down, get on a little run, and break the game open.”

The Big Number

70

The consecutive starts senior point guard Erik Buggs had made, dating

to the 2010-11 season, before coming off the bench on Thursday night.

The Bonus

Valparaiso committed a season-low eight turnovers against IUPUI, with

that area having been an ongoing issue so far this season.

“I think only two guys fainted in the locker room when we read that

stat, so it wasn’t too bad,” Crusaders coach Bryce Drew joked. “We’ve

been working on it a lot in practice, we’ve been talking about it a

lot. I think a lot of it is just them feeling comfortable with who’s

on the floor, and also just being comfortable to know what exactly the

coaches are looking for. … I thought the guys really took care of the

ball probably the best they have all season.”



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