Greetings and welcome to the Athletics-Recreation Center for an early dose of Valparaiso basketball.
The Crusaders are set to host Northern Illinois in just over an hour as a part of the ESPN College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon. ESPN has been putting together the 24 hours of hoops for the last several years and this is the first time Valparaiso has participated.
Scheduling this event wasn't easy as the only way the administrators allowed Valparaiso to participate was if the game wasn't held during the bulk of the school day. While I understand the reasoning there, I also know that students have been actively tailgating for more than three hours. I don't know about you, but going to class would be the last thing on my mind after a morning of tailgating and a basketball game.
That said, we're 56 minutes from the tip and the student section is filling up quite nicely. There is even one kid dressed as Santa Claus. I love college.
6:50 a.m. -- One of the big questions about today's game was how the fans would respond. The student section is filled to the brim while the chairback section is beginning to fill. Obviously this won't be a sellout, but I'd think Valparaiso has to be happy with the attendance so far.
6:59 a.m. -- Starters: Valparaiso -- Erik Buggs, Ben Boggs, Ryan Broekhoff, Will Bogan, Kevin Van Wijk; Northern Illinois -- Akeem Springs, Travon Baker, Kevin Gray, Keith Gray, Aksel Bolin
7:12 a.m. -- Valparaiso 2, NIU 2, 15:53 1H -- Not exactly setting ratings records for this one in the early going. Both teams are sluggish out of the gate. The Huskies have missed four shots and the Crusaders have only taken one.
7:21 a.m. -- Valparaiso 10-4, 10:56 1H -- Broekhoff took a nasty spill and was slow to get to his feet. It worked to Valparaiso's advantage as the Crusaders forced a turnover on the other end and found an unintentionally cherry picking Broekhoff under the basket. Add a 3-pointer from Broekhoff and another triple from Coleman and the Crusaders are on an 8-0 run.
7:30 a.m. -- Valparaiso 15-7, 7:29 1H -- I get the sense that the Crusaders are about to take this game to another gear. So far it's been just Broekhoff making the plays, but Northern Illinois looks completely outclassed on the court. Once the Crusaders get the sleep crust out of their eyes, this could become a blowout.
7:42 a.m. -- Valparaiso 21-13, 2:08 1H -- Broekhoff is unreal. The senior has 16 points and seven rebounds and is clearly a man among children on the floor this morning. The Crusaders have struggled to generate any offense beyond the perimeter as getting the ball inside to Van Wijk has been a fruitless endeavor. Too many turnovers and too many missed shots at the rim for Valparaiso. Fortunately for the Crusaders, Northern Illinois is pretty terrible at basketball.
7:49 a.m. -- Valparaiso 21, Northern Illinois 17, halftime -- Not much to say about this game so far. Broekhoff has been a stud and everyone else is still in bed.
8:06 a.m. -- Valparaiso 29-17, 19:10 2H -- Ben Boggs ate his Wheaties at halftime. The senior just knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second half and force Northern Illinois to call a timeout just 50 seconds into the half.
8:15 a.m. -- Valparaiso 34-22, 15:45 2H -- The Crusaders are shooting better from the 3-point line (44.4%) than they are from 2-point (41.4%). Broekhoff hasn't scored yet in the second half, but Bogan finally knocked down his first shot of the game. Bolin has six and eight for the Huskies.
8:26 a.m. -- Valparaiso 46-28, 10:51 2H -- This second half has been brought to you by the word Double. Broekhoff garnered a double-double after just 22 minutes on the floor and the Crusaders held a 44-22 lead at one point, doubling up their opponent in the second half for the second straight game.
8:34 a.m. -- Valparaiso 51-35, 7:55 2H -- It hasn't cost them yet, but not having Bobby Capobianco for the first month will eventually bite the Crusaders. If Capobianco is on the floor, there is no way that Northern Illinois is outrebounding Valparaiso 30-28.
8:45 a.m. -- Valparaiso 65-42, 3:20 2H -- Another impressive second half performance for the Crusaders and now they start looking towards one of their big non-conference tests at Nebraska on Thursday night. Buggs took a nasty spill and currently has ice on his back/hip. That's been the only downside to this game. Kenney has all 16 of his points in the second half.
8:55 a.m. -- Valparaiso 69, Northern Illinois 46, final.