Greetings and welcome to the Athletics-Recreation Center for another season of Valparaiso basketball. The exhibition season tips off tonight with St. Joseph's coming to town.
The Pumas have a bit of local flavor with Crown Point native Michael Lipton, Munster native Danilo Zekovic and former Wheeler big man Aleksa Kojcinovic. Longtime Morgan Twp. coach Matty Bush is an assistant for St. Joseph's.
The Crusaders have grand expectations this season and tonight will be the beginning of a journey that many around the program believe will end in the NCAA tournament. Six experienced seniors lead the charge along with along with a host of newcomers.
Valparaiso fans will get their first on-court look at Indiana transfer Bobby Capobianco, Cal transfer Alex Rossi, Hawaii transfer Jordan Coleman and Jamaican big man Vashil Fernandez. Lavonte Dority isn't eligible until mid-December and will not play tonight. Also sidelined tonight will be senior Kevin Van Wijk (knee). Van Wijk had off-season surgery and he is taking his time getting back into action.
If you want immediate updates tonight, follow @NWIOren on Twitter. The drill for this season is to blog during media timeouts and at the end of the game. The Twitter updates will contain plenty of good info as well.
6:58 p.m. -- Starters -- Valparaiso -- Erik Buggs, Ben Boggs, Ben Boggs, Ryan Broekhoff, Bobby Capobianco; St. Joseph's -- Davyon Sloan, Corey Clifton, Michael Lipton, Damon Ellison Jr., D.J. Martinez.
7:15 p.m. -- Valparaiso 16-8, 14:08 1H -- The Crusaders are who we thought they were. The seniors came out firing with Boggs scoring six points in the opening six minutes. Both Boggs and Bogan have 3-pointers while Broekhoff has had two nice moves to the basket. The only negatives so far have been an airball from Capobianco on his first shot and a blown dunk from Fernandez. (I keep wanting to just refer to him like Ichiro and call him Vashil)
7:22 p.m. -- Valparaiso 26-19, 10:52 1H -- All nine players have seen the floor and the newcomers are doing well. Fernandez recovered from his blown dunk with a monster one-handed jam and then Jordan Coleman connected on his first 3-point attempt. The Crusaders are 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
7:29 p.m. -- Valparaiso 34-19, 7:59 1H -- One of the concerns that Valpo fans have had this offseason is just how would all of the players work together. Through 12 minutes, the Crusaders have 12 field goals and eight assists. I'd say they are working together pretty well.
7:40 p.m. -- Valparaiso 37-22, 2:49 1H -- The Crusaders went nearly five minutes without a basket before Capobianco banked in a 3-pointer. Valparaiso missed six straight 3-pointers before that shot. Fernandez has been up and down with athletic blocks and then unforced turnovers.
7:48 p.m. -- Valparaiso 43, St. Joseph's 32, halftime -- Broekhoff leads the way with 11 points while Grier has nine points for the Pumas. The Crusaders have 10 assists on 15 field goals and have 18 points in the paint. It's been an up-and-down performance from Valparaiso, but each of the newcomers have shown some positive flashes.
8:10 p.m. -- Valparaiso 53-35, 15:13 2H -- Boggs is playing a really nice game tonight and the senior has team-highs with 12 points and five rebounds. Capobianco is up to nine points and four rebounds. The Crusaders have 14 assists on 19 baskets.
8:18 p.m. -- Valparaiso 64-40, 11:56 2H -- Vashil Fernandez is worth the price of admission alone. The Jamaican big man just ran down the lane for a two-handed slam. He went up for the dunk and the ball hit the back of the rim before falling in, but Vashil went tumbling to the ground. To his credit, he got up, ran down the floor and got the rebound on the other end. Hilarious moment for Fernandez.
8:31 p.m. -- Valparaiso 70-48, 7:55 2H -- Boggs and Kenney each have 12 points to lead the Crusaders while Broekhoff and Capobianco have 11. Broekhoff hasn't scored in the second half and I don't believe he's taken a shot. A majority is the competition, but it's still telling that the Crusaders are deep enough to be successful without Broekhoff leading the way.
8:59 p.m. -- Valparaiso 91, St. Joseph's 62, final -- 22 assists on 31 baskets. That's impressive, regardless of competition. Capobianco finishes with game-high 19 points.