VALPARAISO | Tonight will either be a crazy party at the Athletics-Recreation Center or a possible farewell.
The Crusaders are playing their final scheduled game of the year at the ARC against Youngstown State on Senior Night. If Valparaiso wins, six seniors will get to continue their careers on their home court as the Crusaders will clinch the Horizon League regular season title and the right to host the conference tournament.
If Valparaiso loses, it will make for some somber goodbye speeches and could mean that the Crusaders need to win their final game of the year at Green Bay, where Valparaiso has lost two straight, in order to play another home game.
“We’ll use that as motivation,” Ryan Broekhoff said. “We don’t want this to be our last home game. I don’t want this to be the last time we play in front of our fans.”
Broekhoff admitted that the Senior Night festivities are taking a backseat to Valparaiso’s chance at a second straight regular-season title.
“It’s more so about winning the conference and having the chance to host the conference tournament,” Broekhoff said. “It’s going to be a great night regardless.”
The Crusaders (22-7, 11-3) will play a Youngstown State team that could be without its best player in Kendrick Perry. The junior guard suffered a knee injury last Wednesday in practice and missed Saturday’s BracketBuster game against Central Michigan. Perry went through part of practice at the ARC on Monday afternoon, but he isn’t expected to be in the lineup. Perry had 28 points and 11 rebounds in Youngstown’s 80-68 win over the Crusaders on Jan. 30.
“We were in a similar situation against Loyola when they had some injured guys,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “You never know what’s going to happen, so we’ll prepare like (Perry) is going to play until we hear otherwise. Whatever five guys they put out there are going to be tough.”
If Valparaiso can win today, it will mark the second straight season that the Crusaders haven’t been swept by a conference opponent. Until last year Valparaiso had been swept by at least one conference opponent in every season since 2003-04.
One of the reasons the Crusaders lost at Youngstown earlier this season was woeful 3-point shooting. Valparaiso was 3-of-20 from the 3-point line and senior Will Bogan missed all five of his long distance shots. Bogan has made 21 3-pointers since that game and is shooting 61.7 percent from beyond the arc in the month of February.
“I’m excited for this game for a number of reasons and one of them is they did give me five looks from the 3-point line last game,” Bogan said. “I hope they give me five open looks again.”