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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:27 pm 
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Location: Chicago, Illinois
Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Illinois

Loyola’s 67-64 win over Illinois State on Saturday was supposed to be the “big” home conference game of the year. But only a little over 72 hours after that big game, the Ramblers will suit up for a game between the first place Valparaiso Crusaders and the second place Ramblers. A Loyola win would tie the Ramblers and Valpo at the top of the conference, a Valpo win would vault them squarely into the driver’s seat for the MVC conference title race.

Although Valpo started the season with a lot of question marks and some head-scratching losses, many prognosticators had them picked for the top three in the league. They have the highest-rated average number of recruiting stars by VerbalCommits.com, and their younger players have started to contribute toward the end of the non-con schedule.

The two biggest reasons for Valpo’s recent surge are junior starting forward Ryan Fazekas, a 6’8” transfer from Providence, and the improved play of 7’1” junior center Derrik Smits. Fazekas was averaging nearly 13 points a game and playing with more confidence when he injured his ankle at Bradley two games ago. Fazekas completely missed Valpo’s impressive 65-61 win at SIU on Saturday, and will probably miss the game at Loyola, but his experience, confidence, and basketball IQ has helped develop a winning template for Valparaiso’s offense. Fazekas’ role on this Valpo team is not unlike the role Alec Peters played on the Valpo teams from 2013-17.

Smits has significantly improved his shooting touch (62% from the field) and his scoring rate (12.2 per game) over last season. Although Smits still gets into some foul trouble (fouls have limited his minutes to single digits in two games this year, both losses), overall his minutes are up by 20% this season.

In the backcourt, 6’3” guard Javon Freeman from Chicago’s Whitney Young High School has impressed in the early going by averaging 11.1 points per game and shooting 49% from the field. Six-six senior guard Markus Golder averages 10.2 points per game, and 5’9” freshman guard Daniel Sackey fills out the starting lineup. Since Fazekas has been injured, 6’5” senior guard John Kiser has been bumped up to the starting crew.

Coming off the bench are some experienced, talented, athletic and energetic players: 6’2” junior guard Bakari Evelyn (10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds), 6’2” junior guard Deion Lavender (7.9 points, 5.4 rebounds per game), 6’8” sophomore forward Mileek McMillan, and 6’11” center Jaume Sorolla. Valpo’s bench can be mixed and matched with their starters to create a lot of different looks. They can run five quick guards at you, or go big with three forwards and two quality guards at 6’3” and 6’6”.

Valpo has trouble against good frontcourts. Western Kentucky, featuring 6’11” freshman Charles Bassey (a top 10 recruit), got Derrik Smits to foul out in eight minutes with only four points scored. Ball State’s frontcourt of three versatile forwards between 6’7” and 6’9” fouled out Smits in nine minutes with two points. Texas A&M denied the ball to Valpo’s frontcourt players and forced the backcourt into terrible shots, holding the Crusaders to 34% shooting and forcing 16 turnovers. All three games were losses by 12 to 22 points.

Loyola needs to concentrate on defense to give flow and confidence to their offense. That’s how the Ramblers work best. In their past seven games, Valparaiso has won every game they led at halftime and lost every game they’ve trailed at halftime. Keeping the Crusaders off the scoreboard early will set the tone.


Loyola game notes: https://loyolaramblers.com/documents/20 ... df?id=8291

Valparaiso game notes: http://cdn.streamlinetechnologies.com/v ... _Notes.pdf

TV/Streaming video: ESPN+ http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/b5e97571 ... olachicago

Live stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=234963

Vegas odds: Loyola by 8.5


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:14 am 
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Great analysis JCT! Thanks for your hard work and insights. Always good to know what to look for. Since Freeman was so highly recruited by us, I especially look forward to watching him. It looks like it didn't take Valpo long to adjust to the MVC. I glad they are in as it will be a good rivalry and heck it is the closest site for a conference road game; our trip down there in February is doable unless the weather intervenes. Kelseys is also a great pre or post game restaurant before or after the road game. We have had many alum events there in the past.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:14 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:52 pm 
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Is anyone out there? Pretty shocked nobody has anything to say about a game between the first and second place teams.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:53 pm 
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Quick turnaround from Saturday and we are all at the game!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:29 am
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A fun first half and a very nice crowd. Townes started off slow which surprised me but has picked it up. The quick release three at the end by Kaifes was a great way to finish the half.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:54 am
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Krutwig kind of struggling against their bigs.

Who am I to say, but it seems like he’s taking his first shot right away, last year I like it when he made a move and faked a little bit more. Especially against a 7 footer


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:54 am
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No sign of Bujdoso yet...


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:17 pm 
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Location: Livin in the middle, between the two extremes
Lucas Williamson is back! Great to see him start the second half like this.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:29 am
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I would rather see Bujdoso over Skokna


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