Gorches: Drew, Lindner to share honor, if not spotlight
By Steve T. Gorches 314-3797 or firstname.lastname@example.org January 22, 2014 9:42PM
Valparaiso's head coach Bryce Drew reacts to his teams play as he coaches from the sideline against Milwaukee during their game held at Valparaiso University on Saturday January 18, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Valparaiso at Youngstown St.
When: 6:05 p.m. Thursday
Radio: 95.1-FM; 95.9-FM; 1230-AM
The skinny: A win over YSU would give the Crusaders their first three-game winning streak of the season. But it won’t be easy. Valparaiso (11-9, 3-2) owns an 11-2 advantage over the Penguins since joining the Horizon League, but those two losses have come in the last two visits to Youngstown (12-8, 3-2) by a combined 30 points. One key to VU’s two straight wins has been LaVonte Dority, who scored 19 in the first half against Milwaukee on his way to a game-high 27. He’s becoming a bona fide leader on a team filled with youngsters. Maybe the Crusaders’ Ohio quest would be easier if some of the student section also made the trip. The “ValparaiZone” has been nominated for the Naismith Student Section of the Year Award as one of the top student sections in the nation. Fans can vote for the ValparaiZone either by visitingmystudentsectionrocks.com or on Facebook atfacebook.com/collegecolors or on Twitter using the hashtag, #RockValpoColors and #BestStudentSection within a tweet.
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:27PM
Do you remember Bruce Lindner? If you’re a longtime Valparaiso University basketball fan who has been around for 50 years or more, then you might recall that Lindner was the Crusaders’ leading scorer from 1967 through 1970.
He still holds the Valparaiso men’s career scoring average mark at 19.5 points per game, as well as single-season records of 27.8 ppg., field goals made (274), field goals attempted (589) and others. He also holds the VU single-game scoring mark of 51 points against DePauw.
So Lindner, who wore No. 24, could be considered the best Crusaders hoopster of them all — statistically.
You see, the majority of fans who weren’t alive during Lindner’s era know of another No. 24 who doesn’t quite match Lindner’s stats, but had a more high-profile career.
That would be Bryce Drew, the current head coach.
Next Wednesday when Valparaiso returns home to face Horizon League leader Green Bay, the No. 24 jersey will be retired and a banner hung in the rafters in honor of both players. But it’s the biggest understatement in the universe to say Drew will get the bigger ovation.
Heck, a large portion of the fans — namely the student section — were very young when Drew last played for Valparaiso in 1998. Maybe some remember him donning a Bulls or Houston Rockets jersey in the NBA — nope, Lindner never played in that league. Most know of Drew’s most famous exploit — hitting “The Shot” in the 1998 NCAA Tournament, which is shown by ESPN and CBS myriad of times when March Madness rolls around.
Drew also led the Crusaders to the Big Dance three times and holds the school record for career points (2,142), 3-pointers made (364) and assists (626). The reason Drew leads in total points is because freshmen weren’t allowed to play in the NCAA back in Lindner’s time.
I kind of feel sorry for Lindner a little bit. Very few know him and everyone loves Drew, Valparaiso’s favorite son when it comes to basketball. But Lindner’s accomplishments are just as impressive even if he never got to be on ESPN (come to think of it, that cable station didn’t exist until 1979).
As for Drew’s current endeavor as coach, he’s quite pleased with his team’s effort during the last two games, both victories over Detroit and Milwaukee, especially when it comes to those dreaded turnovers.
The numbers still say the Crusaders are making way too many mistakes. They averaged more than 15 turnovers per game going into the last two contests, and had 19 at Detroit and 15 against Milwaukee. And in that second game, the Panthers only had seven turnovers, which means Valparaiso was doing everything else right to win the game.
“I definitely think we’re getting better,” Drew said. “We do passing drills every day in practice, working on fundamentals. Turnovers are going to happen, but it’s limiting them at key times of the game.”
Next up is one of the annual Ohio trips in which the Crusaders travel to Youngstown State on Thursday and Cleveland State on Saturday.
“Every game in conference is big, but we just want to see improvement and guys playing hard,” Drew said. “We also don’t want to fall too far behind (first place).”
Two more good games on the road and the Crusaders could have a chance to catch that team in first place next Wednesday when Green Bay comes to town — on the same night Lindner and some other guy have their jersey number retired.