Scouting the Crusaders

It's David vs. Goliath. It's the home team Wildcats against Homer Drew's always dangerous Valparaiso club. The Crusaders have made a habit of knocking off the big boys. They picked off a decent West Virginia team and now have their sights set on the Wildcats.

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Projected starters:

Arizona (7-3):*

F Luke Walton 6-8 Jr. 12.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg

F Rick Anderson 6-9 Jr. 13.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg

C Channing Frye 6-10 Fr. 7.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg

G Salim Stoudamire 6-1 Fr. 8.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg

G Jason Gardner 5-10 Jr. 21.8 ppg, 4.1 apg

Valpo (10-3):*

F Lubos Barton 6-8 Sr. 13.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg

C Raitis Grafs 6-11, Jr. 7.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg 1.9 bpg

G Milo Stoval 6-3 Sr. 11.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg

G Mike Nelke 6-0 So. 5.4 ppg

G Tony Falu 6-5 Jr. 12.8 ppg, 3.2 apg

*all stats prior to Friday's games



SG Will Bynum, 5-10 Fr. 6.4ppg, 2.2rpg
F/C Isaiah Fox, 6-9 Fr. 5.8ppg, 5.0rpg
PF Dennis Latimore, 6-8 Fr. 2.0ppg, 3.0rpg

Key Wins:

Arizona: Def. No. 2 Maryland 71-67
Def. No. 5 Florida 75-71
Def. No. 22 Texas 88-74
Def. No. 5 Illinois 87-82.

Valparaiso: Def Charlotte 70-63

Def Rhode Island 68-43.

Bad Losses:

Arizona: at No. 19 Michigan State, 74-60
at Oregon, 105-75.

Valparaiso: at Belmont 74-42

Vs. New Mexico State 94-77

Last Time Out: Arizona beat Pepperdine 94-71. Salim Stoudamire scored 25 points on 9-13 shooting. Channing Frye added 18 points on 7-9 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds.

Valpo came from behind to upset West Virginia 76-57. The Crusaders were down early but fought back to trail by only one at the half. In the second half they employed an effective trap and blew the Mountaineers out of the building.


Valpo is Valpo. They are the "Giant Killers". Once again Homer Drew has his team playing good, fundamentally sound basketball. The team has seven international players on the roster, so they have big guys who can shoot.

"They are good and run their stuff very well," said Wildcats associate head coach Jim Rosborough. "They know their roles and have depth."

Lubos Barton is a prime example of this type of player. The 6-8 forward loves to step out and shoot the three. He shoots the long ball at a 40% clip on his way to leading the team in scoring with 13.0 ppg.

The Crusaders also rely heavily on guard Milo Stoval. A jack-of-all-trades for the Crusaders, Stoval is a 6-3 guard who can score, pass and rebound. He pulled down five rebounds against West Virginia, all of them during a first half run to get the team back in the game.

"Milo really helped us with rebounding early on," said Drew.

Center Raitis Grafs is a huge key for the team. He is already the school's all-time shot blocker and he is only a junior. His presence in the middle allows the Valpo defenders the luxury of taking chances and funneling opponents to the 6-11 senior.

"We've got Raitis inside, we can gamble and force them inside where he can block shots or even just alter shots," Drew said.

The Crusaders will employ the press and use an interesting match-up zone that should be unfamiliar to the young Wildcats.

"Their zone is different than we have seen," Rosborough said. "Their press hurt West Virginia."

Pepperdine employed a press, but the Cats had little trouble with it and broke it fairly easily.

Arizona will continue to ride their three juniors, while trying to keep the hot Channing Frye involved. Frye has been a monster the past three games, averaging 18.0 points and 12.3 rebounds during the stretch. The Wildcats really want to get their post players touches.

"Any time we get the post involved we shoot at a high percentage," Rosborough said.

Key Match-Up: Rick Anderson/Dennis Latimore vs. Lubos Barton

Luke Walton was injured against Pepperdine but should play against Valparaiso. He may be limited, so Anderson and Latimore will be key in stopping the versatile Barton. The Cats must keep track of Barton who loves to get loose on the perimeter and bomb from the outside. Conversely, Barton will have his hands full with Anderson who also has a very versatile game.

OUTLOOK: Arizona has more talent and the home court advantage. Valpo has more experience and a deeper bench. Don't expect a second straight loss in the championship game of the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

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