VALPARAISO | On the court, things couldn't have gone much better Friday night for Valparaiso in its season opener against Georgia Southern at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Off the court, it has been a trying week for the Crusaders and head coach Bryce Drew.
Drew learned earlier in the week that Bobby Capobianco, a 6-foot-10 junior transfer from Indiana, would need to undergo hernia surgery. The procedure took place Thursday, and Capobianco could miss up to a month.
"He's doing well," Drew said. "The surgery went excellent. It will be a couple weeks until he can get back to doing things, but as soon as the doctor clears him he'll be ready to play."
Capobianco wasn't needed, as the Crusaders crushed the Eagles 85-54.
Valpo's veterans led the way early on, with Kevin Van Wijk hitting the first two baskets of the game and Ryan Broekhoff swishing a pair of 3-pointers. The Crusaders led 17-2 on a Broekhoff three-point play at 13:52 of the first half, and later a Ben Boggs 3-pointer made it 34-17.
"I've been waiting for this game for a week," Broekhoff said. "Obviously it's my last season here, and I had a lot of nerves and excitement so I wanted to use that in a positive way."
The newcomers also got into the act. Junior guard Jordan Coleman, a junior college transfer from Southwestern Illinois, double-clutched a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer off a feed from Erik Buggs to give the Crusaders a 40-21 lead.
"It was kind of unexpected for my first shot," Coleman said. "Buggs did a good job of finding me."
Sophomore Vashil Fernandez, relegated to the bench last year thanks to the NCAA, had a rebound dunk with 14:02 remaining for his first points in a real game. And Alex Rossi, a transfer from California, nailed three 3-pointers on his way to nine points after not entering the game until midway through the second half.
Van Wijk, who finished with 16 points, hit a pair of free throws with 9:45 remaining to complete a five-point possession giving Valpo a 66-33 lead. He was fouled while Will Bogan rimmed in a 3-pointer.
Broekhoff finished with 14 points, while Coleman had 15 points and a team-high five rebounds. Coleman was 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
"Jordan played extremely well for his first game in a Valpo uniform," Drew said. "He shot the ball well and was very active on the defensive end."
All 10 available Crusaders played at least 11 minutes, and everyone scored at least five points. The Crusaders shot 27-of-51 from the floor (52.9 percent), including 13-of-24 from 3-point range (54.2 percent). They had 19 assists, out-rebounded the Eagles 31-23 and came up with 14 steals.
"The guys move the ball and pass it very well," Drew said. "What happened tonight is what happens in practice. When you share the ball and get open, good things happen."
The Crusaders held the Eagles to just 41 percent shooting. Cleon Roberts led the Eagles (0-1) with 18 points, while Eric Ferguson added 16 and Tre Bussey had 10.
"It all started on the defensive end," Broekhoff said. "Once the defense got going, the offense came easy. It's too hard for teams to guard all five of our players - it's a tough offense to stop.
"This all culminated into a good effort and we need to keep this up."