The Homecoming That Wasn't: Purdue Visits Valparaiso

Games like tonight's game are quite common in college basketball. A school gets a big-time recruit or two from the same area and they promise a game in that community against the mid-to-low major school there.  In this case, we got a pair of players from Valparaiso, so we agreed to a two-for-one against the Crusaders. They would come to Mackey Arena twice while we would go to Valpo in order to give the hometown fans a chance to see their local high school heroes play back at home.

It's a great idea in theory, but it backfired this time. You see, the two hometown heroes in question were Scott Martin and Robbie Hummel. Martin, as you know, transferred to the Dark Side following his freshman season, tore his ACL, and is finally able to play this year at Notre Dame. Hummel tore his ACL twice and will be in street clothes tonight during his long awaited homecoming. That leaves the rest of the Boilermkers to take on an improved Valparaiso squad in their home gym.

I don't think big name schools get enough credit for playing games like this. Last season West Virginia was brave enough to take on Cleveland State in their home gym and barely escaped with a win. Sometimes, this can be a more hostile atmosphere than a road conference game. The fans are incredibly excited because it is the biggest home game of the year. The smaller gym can amplify the pumped up crowd noise and create a nice boost for the home team. make no mistake: This is a very tricky road test for us tonight, especially minus John Hart now.

2009-10 Record: 15-17, 10-8 Horizon League 

Postseason Result: None

2009-10 Record: 6-2, 2-0 Horizon League

Blog Representation:

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 14-1

Last Purdue win: 12/9/09 86-62 at Purdue

Last Valparaiso win: 12/22/65 114-96 at Valparasio

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Cory Johnson 7 25.3 5.3 10.1 52.1 0.7 2.3 31.3 3.3 5.0 65.7 2.3 2.6 4.9 1.1 2.6 0.3 0.1 3.3 14.6
Brandon Wood 8 29.5 5.0 12.6 39.6 1.0 4.5 22.2 2.3 3.3 69.2 0.9 3.8 4.6 4.4 2.0 1.5 0.1 0.9 13.3
Ryan Broekhoff 8 28.4 4.6 8.4 55.2 1.9 4.3 44.1 1.5 1.6 92.3 1.8 3.3 5.0 2.1 1.5 0.5 1.6 2.6 12.6
Howard Little 8 28.6 4.1 6.3 66.0 0.9 1.8 50.0 2.6 3.9 67.7 2.6 2.5 5.1 1.9 1.6 1.8 0.3 1.9 11.8
Kevin Van Wijk 7 14.3 1.9 4.0 46.4 0.0 0.6 0.0 2.4 2.7 89.5 1.6 1.4 3.0 0.9 1.3 0.9 0.3 2.7 6.1
Jay Harris 8 20.5 1.6 5.3 31.0 0.8 3.4 22.2 2.0 2.3 88.9 0.3 1.1 1.4 2.0 1.5 0.1 0.0 0.6 6.0
Matt Kenney 8 20.5 2.0 5.1 39.0 0.4 2.0 18.8 1.5 2.1 70.6 0.5 2.4 2.9 1.1 1.1 0.6 0.4 2.1 5.9
Michael Rogers 8 15.6 2.3 4.1 54.5 0.0 0.6 0.0 1.1 1.4 81.8 1.8 2.0 3.8 0.6 0.4 0.8 0.1 1.9 5.6
Hrvoje Vucic 5 5.2 1.0 1.8 55.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.8 0.8 1.6 0.2 0.6 0.0 0.8 1.0 2.0
Erik Buggs 8 20.9 0.4 1.5 25.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4 1.3 30.0 0.4 2.3 2.6 2.4 1.9 1.5 0.3 3.3 1.1
Nick Shelton 3 3.3 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.3 1.3 25.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3

In last year's preview I was particularly hard on Valpo's Brandon Wood. When he was at Kokomo High School (my beloved alma mater) he was a score first, second and third type of guard. While he is a talented player, he didn't make his teammates better and several times I thought my Wildkats played better as a team when he wasn't on the floor. I am very pleased to see that Wood has grasped the team concept even more this year and has meshed his talents to improve his team as a whole. This manifests itself in a number of ways. First, Valpo is 6-2 currently (losing only at Ohio and at Kansas) when they were 3-5 at the time of our game last year. Second, they can win on the road this year, as they are 3-2 away from home so far while they were 5-13 total last season. Third, he leads the team in assists. Before and including the Purdue game last year, he never had a career game with more than three assists, including his brief stint with Southern Illinois during the 2007-08 season. Since then, he has taken a role as a scorer and a distributor. He had five games last year with five or more assists with four more already this season. This is in addition to his ability to score from almost anywhere. Last year he had 39 points in a win over Georgia Southern and 30 in a loss at North Carolina, so there is no doubt he can score. He has become a better all-around player though, and as a fellow Wildkat I am very happy to see that.

Naturally, I am drawn to players that are having success at the Division I level from my beloved Wildkats, especially since there are only three players from KHS currently playing D1 ball (Alan Arnett at IPFW and Alex Anglin, a walk-on at Butler as the others). Valpo is more than Wood though. Cory Johnson is a solid 6'7" forward that transferred from Iowa State. He leads them in scoring. Ryan Broekhoff, a 6'6" sophomore guard and Howard Little, a 6'3" senior guard are also double figures scorers. This is a team with multiple scoring options, making them a bit like Richmond. They share the basketball well (36th nationally in assists) and rebound decently.

Valpo really doesn't have a main force on the glass. Wood, Johnson, Broekhoff, and Little all share the rebounding load equally. Little and Johnson are a little more active on the offensive glass, so we need to make that a priority. I continue to hope that The Hanson Brothers will get some minutes in this game and be less MMMMBop and more Enforcer. Travis Carroll is the most adfvanced skill-wise but less physically. Sandi Marcius needs more run, period. Patrick Bade... I feel like we need to send people to pick on Bade until he snaps, shaves his head, gets a few tattoos, and develops an attitude.

I feel like this is a dangerous game for us. Valparaiso is a team that can score. Little, Johnson, and Broekhoff all shoot the ball very well (better than 52%) with Little hitting 66% from the field. They don't turn the ball over and they can create some havoc defensively with eight steals per game. If they have a lead they can hold it thanks to Broekhoff hitting better than 92% from the free throw line. We're going to need to be on our toes defensively and shaprer offensively.

Keys to the Game:

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