Game #9-241: Loyola (Ill.) Ramblers at Valparaiso CrusadersJanuary 2, 2013 8:05 pm
Loyola and Valpo were prognosticated differently in the preseason. Valpo was picked by some to win the conference, Loyola maybe middle of the pack at best, if not lower. Both Loyola and UIC had surprisingly good non-conference performance. If preseason predictions are definitive, we naturally discount such good non-conference records.If on the other hand, you go into each season with a clean slate and wait for the actual games to be played, you tend to lend more credence to their records. As strange as it might sound to seasoned Horizon League fans, Loyola could plausibly be viewed as a top team, especially considering their road wins over Northwestern and DePaul. Valpo fans are not used to thinking of Loyola as an equal, but I found no reason to think that would be an outrageous assessment going into tonight's game.After it was over, I still have no reason to find it outrageous. If anything, I find it even more plausible. Of course, Valpo players and coaches surely know better than to dismiss Loyola as a relatively easy win. Every Horizon League team has known Loyola as Butler without the talent depth: an annoying team filled with annoying players who don't know they're supposed to lose. Even Butler in its recent hey-day learned this hard lesson once at home. Take them for granted and you'll live to regret it.
I don't know if that's what happened here, but one way or another, Loyola out-played Valpo more often than not. Cully Payne had just enough support on offense. Loyola played Valpo like a fiddle just often enough to stay on top for most of the game and pull away down the stretch. When Valpo played man-to-man, Loyola drove to the basket, and though they hardly ever got layups, layups are only one possible offensive option. Valpo shutdown the drives to the basket, but the driving guard knew the sag was coming and jump-passed out to the perimeter for a wide open 3 when Valpo was slow to rotate out. In the 2nd half, it got so frustrating that for a time, Bryce Drew switched to a zone. Yet even that didn't work too well, for Loyola started burning the home team with back-door cuts. Eventually, Bryce switched back to man-to-man (or a combination of the two). Loyola was patient, relentless on the offensive boards, physical (in a game where lots of fouls were missed - on both sides), and got enough lucky bounces to prevail easily.Meanwhile, Valpo couldn't throw the ball in the ocean, especially when driving to the basket. Other than Erik Buggs,, Valpo was cold from within 5 feet of the basket. This is a recipe for disaster, as noted by assistant coach Luke Gore in the post-game interview
. Valpo also was cold from behind the arc: Ryan Broekhoff was 3-5, but the only other 3 (out of 10 tries) was by Erik Buggs, who almost never shoots from the perimeter. To complete this picture of absurdity, Erik's 3 followed immediately after Cully Payne (who is a good 3-pt shooter) air-balled an attempt.
In the aftermath, some Valpo fans are predictably gnashing their teeth over this game -- and I was quite visibly and audibly frustrated myself from my perch in section A. Never mind that Valpo had a game like this
almost precisely one year ago, and it was the only home conference loss by the regular season champs. Loyola is considered to have inferior talent, but you don't score points on the scoreboard for having talent. I saw lots of things to be annoyed at (and poor reffing was WAYYYYYYYYYYY down the list), but I have no interest in assigning signature significance to one conference game. I won't dispute that the defeat was very disappointing, and the clear post-game message was that the coaching staff felt the same way, but the remainder of the season remains an untold story. If nothing else, a loss like this right after a huge win at Murray State raises far more questions than answers, and questions are the very reason we continue to read the story.
LOYOLA (ILL.) 63, at VALPARAISO 54
LOYOLA (ILL.) 10-3 (1-0) -- S. Haralson 3-16 4-4 10; B. Averkamp 4-10 8-9 16; C. Payne 4-9 2-3 13; J. Hicks 2-3 0-0 4; C. Thomas 6-10 2-4 14; J. Crisman 2-4 0-0 5; D. Turk 3-6 1-2 9; J. White 1-3 0-0 2; N. Osborne 0-0 0-0 0; M. O'Leary 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-47 13-18 63.
VALPARAISO 10-5 (0-1) -- R. Broekhoff 6-12 0-0 15; K. Van Wijk 4-8 2-4 10; B. Boggs 2-6 0-0 4; E. Buggs 4-8 0-0 9; L. Dority 1-7 8-8 10; M. Kenney 1-3 0-0 2; J. Coleman 1-4 0-0 2; B. Capobianco 1-5 0-0 2; W. Bogan 0-3 0-0 0; V. Fernandez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 10-12 54.
Three-point goals: LOYO 6-15 (C. Payne 3-6; B. Averkamp 0-1; J. Crisman 1-2; M. O'Leary 0-1; D. Turk 2-5), VALP 4-15 (W. Bogan 0-3; E. Buggs 1-2; B. Boggs 0-3; R. Broekhoff 3-5; L. Dority 0-2); Rebounds: LOYO 31 (J. Hicks 6), VALP 30 (R. Broekhoff 7); Assists: LOYO 17 (C. Payne 7), VALP 8 (R. Broekhoff 4); Total Fouls -- LOYO 14, VALP 17; Fouled Out: LOYO-None; VALP-None.