GORCHES: Adding Keith Carter boosts Valpo’s rotation options
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or email@example.com December 20, 2013 11:32PM
Proviso East's Keith Carter blasts by Warren's Jameris Smith. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Valpo (7-5) vs. Southeastern (9-2)
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: CFE Arena, Orlando, Fla.
The skinny: The Crusaders get a tough Southeastern squad on Saturday before a rematch with Central Florida on Sunday. Besides it being a nice holiday break for the VU players away from cold, dreary weather, it’s a chance to work with the rotation more as St. Louis transfer Keith Carter makes his Valparaiso debut. One focus for the coaching staff will be preventing slow starts. It’s been a theme this season, including last Saturday when the Crusaders overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Loyola Marymount 80-73 at the ARC. Besides the two games this weekend, VU will have one more road game at East Tennessee State on Dec. 29 before returning home.
Updated: January 22, 2014 6:16AM
There’s nothing like getting a boost to the rotation midway through the season.
It doesn’t happen often in college athletics. Not like there’s a trade deadline, as in professional sports, when teams can add to their depth.
But once in a while, a transfer can result in a player joining the team mid-year. It’s happened a couple times for the Valparaiso men’s basketball team in recent years. Starting guard LaVonte Dority, who leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game, joined the squad last year at midseason after transferring from South Florida the previous season.
And just like Dority, who is a Chicago product (Foreman High School), Proviso East graduate Keith Carter will join the Crusaders this weekend when they face Southeastern as part of the Jackson Hewitt UCF Holiday Classic in Orlando, Fla.
On Sunday, Valparaiso will play host Central Florida for the second time this season (the Crusaders rolled past the Knights 85-70 on Nov. 26 at the Athletics-Recreation Center).
Carter transferred from St. Louis last season, but it came after only appearing in three games before suffering a high ankle sprain that resulted in Carter missing half a season. So, like five other Valparaiso players, Carter is virtually a freshman when it comes to college basketball.
“It’s been a long, tough road,” said Carter, who was Illinois Mr. Basketball runner-up in 2012. “I’ve been sitting and watching for a year and a half.”
The situation Carter finds himself in couldn’t be much better. The 6-footer will be part of an already fluid backcourt rotation with Dority leading the way and freshman Lexus Williams getting a handful of starts. Carter gets to be part of head coach Bryce Drew’s mad scientist lineup changes this season with three games before the Horizon League schedule gets started.
Williams is still dealing with a leg injury, so his availability is iffy. So Carter, who calls himself a natural point guard, might get to start this weekend.
“LaVonte is versatile, which helps in this situation,” Drew said. “It will definitely change rotations and hopefully it will be for the better.
“Keith is different than most transfers in that he really hasn’t played college basketball. Lexus actually has more experience than Keith. In fact, all of our freshmen might, including Nick (Davidson).”
Coming into this season, Carter knew he had a good chance at significant playing time after seven seniors graduated from last year’s Horizon League champs. And he likes the possibility of joining Dority and Williams in a very talented backcourt.
“Three heads are better than two,” he said. “LaVonte is probably more of a two-guard, but he’s done well at point, also.”
Sitting on the bench during games has allowed Carter to observe and analyze, and he’s definitely happy with the progress of the team as it approaches conference play.
“I love the direction of the team,” he said. “The freshmen are growing up pretty fast and LaVonte, Bobby (Capobianco) and Moussa (Gueye) are being leaders as seniors.”
So just before that first Horizon game against UIC on Jan. 2 at the ARC, Drew gets to tinker with the lineup three more times, if he chooses, with a new body to toss into the mix. He’s already had three different starting groups this season, made up of eight different players. I’m betting there will be at least one more new lineup before UIC comes to town.