Men’s basketball: Onward and upward for Crusaders
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or email@example.com February 18, 2013 7:42PM
Valparaiso's Will Bogan goes past Cleveland State's Junior Lomomba to the basket in the first half at Valparaiso University Friday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 18, 2013 10:32PM
VALPARAISO — It was talked about in the locker room after the game.
Film was watched during Sunday’s practice, and it was discussed a little more. But by the time individual drills rolled around — shooting, ballhandling, moving without the ball, defending — it was purged from the system.
Such was the process for Valparaiso in the aftermath of its Saturday debacle against Detroit, ahead of its game against Loyola on Tuesday night at Gentile Arena.
“We’re basically trying to let go and forget about the last game,” Will Bogan said on Monday. “Don’t let one loss turn into two. Let that one sting for the night, and then forget about it, and yesterday we came out with the mental approach of just preparing to beat Loyola.”
Said Ryan Broekhoff: “We went over the Detroit game yesterday, and kind of left it there. We know what we did well, what we didn’t do well, and we’ve kind of moved on from that game. It’s over and done with. Whatever’s happened happened, and we can’t change things now. Let’s move on to the next game, and let’s start working towards the game on Tuesday, get focused, and get our body and our mind prepared.”
The Crusaders (20-7, 10-3 Horizon League) still have the ability to control how the standings shake out. If they win their three remaining league games, they win the regular-season title outright, and host the league tournament. Even if they win two of those games, the worst they could do is tie with Detroit, and they hold the advantage in virtually every tiebreaker.
Naturally, they have every intention of winning out. And the stretch run begins against the Ramblers (14-12, 4-9).
“You don’t ever wish that you lose during the season, but when it does happen, it’s always a good thing when you have a quick turnaround, when you get to play again a couple days later,” Bogan said. “It’s just another opportunity to go out and play better than the game you did before, and erase the last one.”
In the league opener for both teams, Loyola knocked off Valparaiso 63-54 on Jan. 2 at the ARC. The Crusaders shot 35.7 percent from the field, including 4-of-15 from 3-point range, and the Ramblers shot 46.8 percent.
Not that the Crusaders need any extra incentive or motivation, especially at this stage of the season, but …
“We haven’t forgotten, let’s just put it like that,” Bogan said. “We still remember that loss. While we’re not focusing on it, it’ll be in the back of our heads.”
Said Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew: “If you’re a competitor, any time that someone beats you, you’d like to play them again. Hopefully that will add something to our players. But it was a long time ago, and there were a lot of games in between. A lot’s happened for them and us.”
Loyola snapped a four-game losing streak with a 69-60 win against UIC on Saturday, doubling its win total from last season (7-23). The Ramblers, who have not won back-to-back games since Jan. 20 and 23 (at Chicago State, at Cleveland State), won despite being without leading scorer (15.6) and rebounder (6.5) Ben Averkamp and point guard Cully Payne (4.2 assists), though Munster graduate Joe Crisman did return after missing five games with a broken finger. The status of Averkamp, who sat out the last three games because of concussion symptoms, was uncertain; and Payne (left thumb) was expected to miss his second straight game.
“We’re preparing like they’re all going,” Drew said. “If we get there and find out otherwise — they play extremely hard and they’re executing very well, so regardless, they won last game without them, so they’ll be prepared either way. And that’s our goal — to prepare our guys either way.”
Valparaiso has not lost back-to-back games this season, last losing two straight league games on Feb. 21 and 24, 2011 (at Green Bay, vs. Loyola). The Crusaders have won their last three games at Loyola.
“We never like to lose, and we never like to lose at home,” Broekhoff said. “The position we’re in right now, we still need to keep winning games. To achieve what we want to achieve, we need to continue to win and it starts on Tuesday.”