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Valpo’s Erik Buggs willing ‘to do whatever it takes’ to win

Updated: January 30, 2013 6:11AM



VALPARAISO — The approach hasn’t changed for Erik Buggs.

After starting 70 straight games, Valparaiso’s senior point guard has come off the bench in the last two.

“I just have to provide a spark for the team, anything necessary to win, that’s the biggest thing,” Buggs said. “Our team is so interchangeable and so unselfish, everybody’s willing to do whatever it takes, whatever’s necessary to win.

“That’s the biggest thing that we wanted with me coming off the bench, just bringing some more intensity, so with that second group there’s really not a big change.”

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Buggs figures to play a prominent role for the Crusaders (9-4) in their next game, as they face Isaiah Canaan and Murray State (9-2) on Saturday at the CFSB Center. Canaan was a preseason first-team All-American, after making the second team following last season. The senior point guard averages 20.9 points and 3.9 assists.

“He’s a very, very tough matchup for anyone guarding him,” Buggs said.

“A number of different people will see him. Our defense is predicated on trusting one another, and we do a lot of switching, so anybody could see him at any given time. Our guys are highly capable of guarding anybody on the court. We have so much depth.

“He has a really, really nice feel for the game. He’s an excellent shooter, good play-maker. It’ll be fun to match up against him. It’s going to be a great game, excellent matchups all across the floor.”

Canaan has been projected as a possible NBA first-round draft pick.

“He’s very explosive off the dribble, and he has the ability to shoot from deep,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “When you have those two things going for you, you’re a very difficult matchup.

“A lot of guys will be on him. And whoever’s on him will have their work cut out for them to try to contest his jump shots, but also to try to keep him from getting in the lane and getting easy baskets.

He’s a really, really good player.”

And Canaan is not the only one. Ed Daniel — a 6-foot-7 senior forward who averages 16.2 points and 10.9 rebounds, and was an All-Ohio Valley Conference preseason first-team selection — leads Murray State’s “other” players.

The Racers, who are 4-0 at home this season, have defeated Auburn and St. John’s, with their only losses coming to Colorado (neutral site) and at Dayton in their most recent game. That 77-68 loss to the Flyers on Dec. 22 ended Murray State’s school-record 16-game road win streak; the Racers were the only team to go undefeated (13-0) on the road last season, when they were undefeated overall for much of it and lost to Marquette in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.

“They’re a very, very good team, and that’s part of the reason why we wanted to schedule this game, to go against one of the better teams in the country, on the road, that has a lot of athleticism,” Drew said.

“It’s our last game before conference (Valparaiso plays Loyola on Wednesday at the ARC), and hopefully we continue to grow and learn to get ready for conference.”

The Crusaders have gone 2-4 on the road this season, and a win clearly would enhance their resume.

“We’re excited,” Buggs said. “We know what kind of opportunity this is. Our team, we’ve been close to getting over that hump. Any road game on your schedule is a big win, and going down to Murray State would be really big. We just have to come in with a good mindset and be ready to accept that challenge.”

Said Ryan Broekhoff: “We haven’t been entirely happy how it’s gone in our non-conference schedule. We’ve had some tough games, we’ve had some winnable games — every game’s been winnable. It would be nice to be able to get an actual quality win on the road, and not kind of come up just short, or not play our best basketball.”

Around the rim: Broekhoff — who sat out Valparaiso’s Dec. 22 win against Purdue Calumet as a precaution with a right ankle injury, the first DNP of his Crusaders career — has been fine. Bobby Capobianco, who hurt his shoulder against the Peregrines, also was expected to play at Murray State. … In the teams’ only previous meeting, Murray State topped Valparaiso 78-58 in the 1999 Hoop and Quill Classic in St. Charles, Mo.



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