2007-08 Valparaiso Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #120
Conference Rank: #3 Horizon
2006-07: 16-15, 9-5, 3rd (Mid-Con)
2006-07 postseason: none
Size did not matter too much in the Mid-Con, but with Valparaiso moving into the Horizon, the size, or lack thereof, is a major concern. But Butler can do it, so why not Valpo? More important than just being small is the fact that it forces multiple people to play out of position; a wing is now a power forward, a power forward is now a center. One man, center Calum MacLeod, can change all of that. At 7-1, MacLeod is a true center, but his defensive liability has kept him on the bench for most of his career. If that can change for his senior season, Valpo’s size problems will be answered. Yet, the depth up front is still an issue and even if MacLeod is suddenly worthy of starting, players will still have to spend some time out of position.
The top seven scorers return, but number eight and nine on that list were post players. Moussa Mbaye started 14 games last year and averaged 3.1 points and 3.8 rebounds. Arden Skoglund has opted to transfer after seeing limited minutes. Guard Keaton Frye has also left early with a long, long list of guards ahead of him on the depth chart.
Some depth up front will come from Bryan Bouchie. The power forward is an aggressive player in the paint and earned a spot on the Indiana All-Star team. At 6-10, Bouchie has the size to be a post player, but he is more of an athletic forward than a back to the basket player. In any event, Bouchie will be asked to provide quality minutes off the bench right away. Incoming freshman Howard Little and redshirt freshman Paul Guede will add depth to the wings. Both will contribute, but when Guede develops an offensive game to go along with his athleticism he will be tough to keep off the floor.
Who to Watch:
It’s raining guards in Valparaiso. Brandon McPherson, Jake Diebler, Samuel Haanpaa, Jarryd Loyd and Shawn Huff form a talented group, but there is not room for all of them. McPherson, who averaged 11.3 points and 3.3 assists last year, will run the point. The rest should be on the wings, but somebody will also have to spend some time at the four spot. That will likely be the 6-6 Huff. Haanpaa is the best shooter of the bunch and made 2.6 shots from long range at a 45.7 percent clip last year. The sophomore is developing into the go-to-scorer for the Crusaders despite only starting 12 games last year. However, Haanpaa can become too dependent on the outside shot and will occasionally forget to drive the lane. Loyd and Diebler are not prolific scorers, but share the ball well and help the team in other ways.
When Huff moves to the four, Urule Igbavboa moves to the five. The 6-8 junior has proven that he can play the center spot, but is more effective as a power forward. Coming off a season where he averaged 11.6 points and 7.5 rebounds, Igbavboa will be asked to do even more as the team’s lone rebounding threat. In the end, the size concerns will not stop the Crusaders from being an effective and dangerous team in their new conference. Even when the team has to play small most of the time, the talent level can compete with just about anybody in the Horizon. Valpo and Coach Homer Drew just need to play smart when they are outmatched in the paint by running some zones and being physical. It has been done successfully before and there is no reason the Crusaders cannot do it successfully now.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Brandon McPherson, Junior, Guard, 11.3 points per game
Jake Diebler, Junior, Guard, 5.4 points per game
Samuel Haanpaa, Sophomore, Guard, 12.0 points per game
Shawn Huff, Senior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
Urule Igbavboa, Junior, Forward, 11.6 points per game