Previewing Valparaiso

The Tar Heels have played some of their best basketball of the season the last two games, but now must proceed without Bobby Frasor, starting Sunday against Valparaiso. Tip-off at the Smith Center is at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by FSN.

North Carolina (12-0) vs. Valparaiso (10-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
7:30 p.m., FSN (Ron Thulin, Dan Bonner)


Season to Date: Valparaiso enters Sunday night's contest with a 10-2 record and a No. 53 rating in the RPI. Head coach Homer Drew's squad has been tough in defeat, losing 87-78 at Vanderbilt and 68-58 at Wisconsin. Valpo led both major conference opponents midway through the second half before running out of steam down the stretch. The Crusaders have victories against Grace, IPFW, Maryland Eastern Shore, Austin Peay, Western Michigan, Ball State, Wright State, Detroit, Evansville and Chicago State.

Multiple Weapons: North Carolina's last two opponents have featured pro prospects at the guard position, but the Crusaders share the wealth instead of relying on one offensive option. Senior wing Shawn Huff (11.8 points per game), sophomore guard Samuel Haanpää (11.7 ppg), junior big man Urule Igbavboa (11.5 ppg) and senior guard Jarryd Loyd (10.1 ppg) highlight a consistent team effort for Drew's 18th team – six different players have led Valpo in scoring at least once.

Experience Factor: Valpo boasts a lineup full of experienced veterans as eight of the 11 players who took the court last season returned for the 2007-08 campaign, including each of its top seven scorers. An astounding 93.6% of last year's scoring, 86.6% of last year's rebounding and 90.4% of last year's minutes played are back for the current season. This lineup will not be intimidated by a Smith Center sellout crowd – this contest marks the fourth consecutive year that Drew's program has faced a top-ranked team on its home floor.

Proficiency Behind the Arc: The Crusaders are yet another team on North Carolina's early season schedule that makes their living from behind the three-point line. They rank among the nation's best in both 3-pointers per game (10.1, 10th) and 3-point percentage (41.9 percent, 25th), while connecting on at least 10 treys in eight of their 12 games. Valpo's top performance came against Chicago State on Dec. 15th, when the Crusaders knocked down a season-high 16 three-pointers on just 28 attempts. Haanpää led the assault with a remarkable 10-of-12 shooting night from long range.

International Flair: Valpo has five foreign players on its current roster – Haanpää (Kerava, Finland), Huff (Helsinki, Finland), senior center Calum MacLeod (Wellington, New Zealand), freshman guard Michael Rogers (Kingston, Jamaica) and freshman forward Benjamin Fumey (Bremen, Germany).

Series History: Sunday night's game marks the first ever meeting between these two programs.

Location: Valparaiso, Ind.
Enrollment: 4,000
Conference: Horizon League
Nickname: Crusaders
Color: Brown & Gold
Head Coach: Homer Drew
Record at VU: 312-242
Last Year: 16-15

Projected Starters:
10 Brandon McPherson (6-1, 205, Jr.) - 8.8 ppg, 2.7 apg
33 Jake Diebler (6-3, 180, Jr.) – 5.1 ppg, 3.1 apg
13 Samuel Haanpaa (6-8, 205, So.) – 11.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg
35 Shawn Huff (6-7, 210, Sr.) - 11.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg
00 Urule Igbavboa (6-9, 230, Jr.) – 11.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Key Reserves:
23 Jarryd Loyd (6-0, 170, Sr.) – 10.1 ppg, 3.1 apg
44 Bryan Bouchie (6-11, 245, Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg
14 Howard Little (6-4, 200, Fr.) – 3.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg

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