Game No. 23
Valparaiso 75, Green Bay 60
The Crusaders gave a reminder to the rest of the Horizon League that the last two championship banners are hanging in the Athletics-Recreation Center. Sure, Green Bay was short-handed without Alec Brown, but the Crusaders looked like absolute world beaters on Wednesday night. Lavonte Dority knocked down his first six shots and scored 26 points while Lexus Williams dished out a career-high eight assists.
Game Ball: Credit the players for finding the soft spots in Green Bay's defense and then exploiting those areas time after time. Whether it was Dority attacking the basket (where Brown's absence left a lot of space) or it was Williams continuously finding Jubril Adekoya under the basket, it was an impressive all-around performance by Valparaiso's offense. Dority is playing at another level right now, averaging 22 points while shooting nearly 60 percent from the field over his last five games.
Air Ball: All week long my Twitter feed has been subjected to countless pleas from the Valparaiso student body to vote for the Valparaizone as one of the top student sections in the country. What a joke. I give credit to the students who were in attendance, but the student section was nowhere near capacity. I just don't understand. I attended Valparaiso from 1999-2002 and the student section was never that sparse. It's not like this team isn't exciting and it's not like Green Bay wasn't the best team in the conference. I know Valparaiso is a tough academic school and there are plenty of other things going on, but for the love of all things basketball, kids, please put down your smartphones for two hours and come enjoy a social event that doesn't involve a Like button or a Snapchat.
Quotable: "Because life doesn't make sense, I fully expect Valparaiso to beat Green Bay by 15 tonight." -- Paul Oren to Valparaiso play-by-play announcer Todd Ickow 90 minutes before tip.
Wardrobe Malfunction: There was some commotion before the game involving a couple of Valparaiso's players. Lavonte Dority and Bobby Capobianco (and possibly Clay Yeo) were wearing the wrong colored compression shirts under their jerseys and had to take them off. Rumor started to swirl on Valparaiso's message board that perhaps the players had references to Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter's attempt to unionize college athletes and that's why they had to change. Capobianco laughed off that thought when he was asked about it on Thursday afternoon.
Mascot Malfunction: Several fans in the stands reported after the game that Benny the Bull was involved in an altercation with one of the Green Bay players. I didn't see this occur, but it sounds like there was some bush league behavior on both parts. The mascot (whether it's the Crusader or any other mascot) is there to entertain the fans. Getting in the way of the players during warmups is concerning to me. That said, the player needs to be able to shake off any distractions and not get into a physical altercation. Having not seen what happened, I'm not going to name names, but it sounds like it just added to Green Bay's misery which began...
Skating with the Stars: Green Bay coach Brian Wardle won't be heading to Sochi for figure skating this Olympics. The former Marquette star slipped on the ice while getting off the bus and suffered an ankle injury. Wardle reportedly had his ankle in a boot and was walking with a noticeable limp. Wardle told the Green Bay Press Gazette following the game: "It seems like something crazy always happens at Valparaiso."
Up Next: The Crusaders travel to Chicago to take on UIC. The Flames (5-17) are in last place, having lost to all eight schools during the first run through the Horizon League. UIC has suffered some crushing late-game losses this season and won't be an easy out for the Crusaders.