Off to its best start in more than 70 years, the Valparaiso men’s basketball team will take its undefeated 8-0 record on the road tonight for a tilt against nationally-ranked Purdue at Mackey Arena.
The Crusaders picked up five points in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll that was released Monday and if they can pull off a win against No. 21 Purdue and then get past upstart Ball State on the road on Saturday afternoon, Valparaiso could jump higher in the rankings.
“Our record is our record and it’s all part of the process,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said. “We try to get better every day. We’ve gotten better (at practice) this week and now we have a heck of a challenge. It starts at Purdue.”
The Boilermakers (8-2) are fresh off a pair of Big Ten wins over Maryland and Northwestern and have recent victories over Arizona and Louisville. Carsen Edwards leads Purdue with 16.3 points per game and the sophomore guard appears to be ready to play today after taking a blow to the face against the Wildcats on Sunday.
The Crusaders will be looking for their first road win against a Power 5 program since knocking off Oregon State on Nov. 24, 2015, and for their first win over a Big Ten program since beating Penn State on Dec. 28, 2004. Valparaiso is 14-2 all-time against Purdue with their lone on-court victory coming at home on Dec. 22, 1965 when the Crusaders won 114-96. The Boilermakers beat Valparaiso in the 1995-96 season, but Purdue later had to forfeit the game because it used an ineligible player (Luther Clay) during the season.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Lottich said. “We’re playing on their home floor, but we’re looking forward to it. We’ve got young men who want this challenge.”
Local players honored: A trio of local college basketball players were honored by their respective conferences earlier this week.
Indiana Northwest junior Rashad Richardson was named the Association of Independent Institutions Player of the Week on Monday, marking the first time a member of the RedHawks earned the honor this season. Richardson had 29 points and 12 rebounds against East West University in a 103-84 victory on Saturday. Richardson leads the RedHawks (5-6) with 19.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Chloe Salman also earned A.I.I. Player of the Week honors when the IU-Northwest junior guard knocked down five 3-pointers and scored 26 points in an 86-80 overtime win over Holy Cross College last Monday. Salman leads the RedHawks with 17.5 points per game and ranks in the top 20 nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.484).
Deven Harrison also proved to be adept from beyond the arc this week as the Calumet College of St Joseph’s senior knocked down 17 3-pointers in two games on his way to being named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
Harrison went 10-of-13 from the 3-point line in an 87-49 win over IU-South Bend last Wednesday before hitting another seven 3-pointers against Judson on Saturday in a 95-76 road victory.
The Chicago native has connected on 45 3-pointers this season and currently ranks No. 1 in the nation at the NAIA Division II level. Harrison is the first Cal College player to win CCAC Player of the Week honors since Roddy Richardson was honored in 2012.