AUBURN HILLS, Mich. | Tomorrow starts today for the Valparaiso men’s basketball team.
Despite the sting of Thursday’s 65-54 loss to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, the transition process to the 2013-14 season already has begun for the Crusaders.
Individual player meetings were held on Friday and suddenly one of the most experienced rosters in the country has an uncertain feel as Valparaiso has no players on the roster with more than one year of playing experience with the Crusaders.
“The preparation and foundation were being put together for next year throughout this season,” Valparaiso junior Bobby Capobianco said. “Those (seniors) were great leaders and they’ve showed us what it means to prepare and be great examples.”
Capobianco will be among the team leaders with fellow seniors-to-be Lavonte Dority and Jordan Coleman. Alex Rossi and David Chadwick will be entering their fourth year of college.
“This may have been our first year playing for Valparaiso, but we’ve been in school for a long time,” Capobianco said. “We’ve all been prepped for this pretty well. Our goal is still to win conference, host the conference tournament and get to the NCAA tournament. Will that be a challenge? Heck yeah, but this is what our team is about.”
The Crusaders will have an influx of youth next season with St. Louis transfer Keith Carter likely becoming eligible at semester break and five freshmen arriving in the fall, including Andrean product Nick Davidson. Unlike when players such as Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk arrived from overseas, this recruiting class is filled with Illinois and Indiana talent and the newcomers have attended plenty of Valparaiso games in the last few years.
“I have a great relationship with all of them,” Valparaiso junior Lavonte Dority said. “They’re all great ballplayers and you can tell they are excited. They’re all about Valpo and we’ll get those younger guys through the process and show them the ropes. They’re ready to get going.”
The biggest question remaining for the 2013-14 Crusaders is whether Bryce Drew will continue to coach at his alma mater. The buzz in the college basketball world is that Northwestern has Drew on its short list and that doesn’t come as a surprise to Valparaiso’s returners.
“We’re all basketball fans and we hear things; we keep up with everything,” Capobianco said. “We’ll just keep the path. The (coaches) make the decisions that they make and we keep doing what we’re doing.”