Men's basketball

Crusaders look to improve on slow starts

2013-11-22T19:00:00Z 2013-11-23T03:04:16Z Crusaders look to improve on slow startsPaul Oren Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 22, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | There’s no telling if Bryce Drew considers himself a James Bond fan.

If so, the Valparaiso men’s basketball coach may take special notice of the 1964 film Goldfinger when the title character states “Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.’”

Slow starts have become the enemy for the Crusaders this season. It has taken no more than six minutes and change for the team to trail by double digits in each of the last three road games.

A slow start at Illinois was happenstance. A second slow start at Ohio coincidence. A third slow start at Evansville just might have been what requires action by Drew.

“We’ll definitely evaluate where we are in terms of the starting lineup and where we are in terms of putting players in the best situations where we can be successful,” Drew said after Wednesday’s loss to the Purple Aces.

Drew, much like his father Homer, has generally been a creature of habit over the last two years when it comes to starters. The third-year coach relied on Ryan Broekhoff, Erik Buggs, Will Bogan and Kevin Van Wijk in the starting lineup for much of the last two years while the fifth spot in the lineup typically rotated between Ben Boggs and Matt Kenney. LaVonte Dority was the only other player entering this season that has started more than two games in the Bryce Drew Era.

What that says is that Drew doesn’t make lineup changes on a whim.

There’s no guarantee that changes will be made for Saturday’s home contest against James Madison, but looking at who has been on the floor for each of Valparaiso’s three second half-comebacks could indicate that changes are coming.

Lexus Williams earned praise for his play against Illinois while Clay Yeo and Alec Peters helped to jump start the Crusaders, as the pair combined to score 12 straight points for Valparaiso. Jubril Adekoya was one of the few bright spots of Wednesday’s 100-92 loss to the Purple Aces as the freshman got his first extended Division I minutes of the season and responded with a team-best six assists.

While it may be a stretch to say Drew might start four freshmen against the Dukes (2-3), the best time for a change might come at the beginning of a four-game home stand that starts with James Madison and games against Central Florida, Mercer and Cincinnati Christian running through Thanksgiving weekend. Friday marked the last day of classes until after the home stand and the coaching staff would presumably have plenty of time to make lineup changes.

“We’ve traveled five days in an eight-day stretch and we haven’t had the opportunity to put together a run of three or four straight days of practice,” Drew said. “This (home stand) will be a good thing for us. We’ll get to go through a lot of film and the guys can focus a little more.”

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