Valparaiso 78, IU-Kokomo 40
VALPARAISO | Bryce Drew knows a lot of NBA travel from his years in the league and even he thinks Valparaiso's recent stretch of games is a gauntlet.
The Crusaders returned to the court a little more than 32 hours after walking out of Rhode Island's gym with an emotional victory on Tuesday morning and ran through a glorified scrimmage against IU-Kokomo.
Jubril Adekoya established a new career-high with 20 points while Andrean product Nick Davidson set career marks with 13 points and 32 minutes played.
Davidson, Lexus Williams and Max Joseph never left the floor in the second half, marking the first time that three Valparaiso players went the entire half since the 2012 NIT loss to Miami.
Valparaiso played Sunday afternoon against Iona, Tuesday morning at Rhode Island, Wednesday night against IU-Kokomo and will also play Thursday night against Trinity Christian. The Crusaders will then travel out west for perhaps their biggest non-conference games of the season when they play at Oregon and Oregon State.
What it means: Three developments surrounding the Valparaiso basketball program came on Wednesday and the win over IU-Kokomo had the least impact of any of the three. Bryce Drew announced earlier in the day that Chicago native Micah Bradford signed his National Letter of Intent and would join the team next fall. Bradford is among the top-20 ranked players in Illinois and averaged 21 points per game last season at Bradley-Bourbonnais H.S.
After the IU-Kokomo game Drew brought freshman center Derrik Smits into the media room and announced that Smits will redshirt this season after tearing two ligaments in his right ankle. Smits suffered a similar injury as a sophomore in high school. Smits will undergo surgery early next week and is expected to be sidelined for four months.
One reason to be excited: Lexus Williams played all 34 minutes, including the entire second half, and finished with eight points, four assists and four steals. Williams has been relegated to the end of the bench at the beginning of the season and is still working his way back from a knee injury. E. Victor Nickerson started and played 35 minutes in just his third game back from wrist surgery. Nickerson hadn't practiced 5-on-5 before he surprisingly returned against Iona on Sunday afternoon. Nickerson led the Crusaders with nine rebounds on Wednesday night.
One reason to panic: I got nothing.
Ouch: Add Darien Walker to Valparaiso's walking wounded. The senior guard sprained his ankle against Rhode Island on Tuesday morning. While he returned to the game, Walker was limping around the Athletics-Recreation Center on Wednesday and watched the game in street clothes. Bryce Drew said after the game that Walker would be a game-time decision for Thursday night's game.
David Skara also missed the game with a sprained ankle. The sophomore forward appeared to be moving fine, but was held out for precautionary measures. Word from several people close to the program is that Skara is hopeful to play on the Oregon trip.
Quotable: "I struggled there. I need to get back in the gym." -- Nick Davidson on missing all four of his 3-point attempts.
What's next: The early-season grind continues as the Crusaders welcome Trinity Christian to the ARC on Thursday night. Expect more of the same from Drew when it comes to monitoring minutes. Thursday's game represents Valparaiso's final non-D1 game of the season.