Men’s basketball: Valparaiso looking to finish strong on road
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or firstname.lastname@example.org November 16, 2013 11:30PM
Updated: December 18, 2013 6:58AM
A loss is a loss. But a team such as Valparaiso, which has five freshmen averaging more than 41 percent of the minutes on the floor through three games, a loss on the road to a Big Ten school such as Illinois can be a learning experience.
So what can the Crusaders learn from last Wednesday’s 64-52 loss to the Illini heading into Sunday’s second of three straight road games at Ohio University?
The consensus among players and coaches was that they need to learn how to finish.
That wasn’t a problem in the first game of the season against Murray State and wasn’t a factor against North Park. But against quality road opponents, it’s a huge deal.
“We have to have the mindset that we’re going on the road and we’re going to win — it doesn’t matter if it’s Big Ten or someone else,” said freshman starter Alec Peters, who had seven points and three rebounds against Illinois after being named Horizon League Freshman of the Week to start the campaign.
Senior point guard LaVonte Dority, who had 12 points against Illinois, is part of the leadership group helping the freshman contingent improve on the road.
“They’re continuing to learn and build on every game,” he said. “We just have to find a way to make winning plays down the stretch.”
Besides Peters, freshmen Lexus Williams and Clay Yeo are also averaging 22 minutes through three games, and the numbers show they are getting better and the little things that head coach Bryce Drew and his staff focuses on.
The five freshmen that saw time against Illinois (Andrean grad Nick Davidson and Tinley Park, Ill., native Jubril Adekoya were the other two) logged a combined 76 minutes and had zero turnovers.
Ohio and Valparaiso have meet only twice, with the Bobcats winning both times. The last meeting was Nov. 23, 2010, when the Crusaders erased a 15-point deficit, but fell short 78-75 at the end.