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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Steve'S COLUMNS

PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Women's Opponents' Profile #6: Valparaiso University Crusaders, 12/03/03


Frosh post Tamra Braun has played well in her inaugural college season.


Date: 12/02/2003
Author: Steve
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists

    Welcome to the sixth opponent profile for the 2003-2004 season. Each profile will include information about the opponent’s campus, its women’s basketball team, and one player or coach on the team. Links to web pages will follow each section. Look for a profile on each opponent 1-2 days before the tip-off.

    The Campus

    The official webpage of Valparaiso University is http://www.valpo.edu.

    The Team

    Valparaiso enters the contest with a 2-3 record, losing to Oregon, Villanova, and Notre Dame, but bouncing back with back-to-back wins against St. Francis of Indiana and Central Michigan.

    As with a lot of Purdue’s preseason opponents, the Crusaders rely upon a deep roster during ballgames, with an amazing 11 players averaging ten minutes per game or more. Four players average more than twenty minutes, led by Katie Boone at 29.8.

    Valparaiso seems to be neither a high-scoring nor a good-shooting team: the squad was averaging 58.0 points per game and shooting 33.6% from the field before its game against Central Michigan. Those statistics rose to 66 points and 47.4% in that game.

    Offensively, VU does have strengths: creating a balanced attack in which six players average more than 5.5 points per game, taking care of the basketball well enough to turn it over only 14 times per game, and shooting free throws at a 76.4% clip. One out of every 4 shot attempts by the Crusaders has been a three-pointer this year; unfortunately the team has hit less than 30% of those shots.

    Defensively, the Crusaders jelled against CMU, allowing only four field goals in the second half and forcing Central Michigan into a 31.5% shooting night on its home court. While teams are shooting 3s against the Crusaders pretty well (42.6% before the CMU game), holding onto the basketball isn’t as easy: opponents average almost 20 turnovers per game.

    VU does get out-rebounded, however, by opponents by an average of almost four per game. It doesn’t bode well when a team that has finished nationally in the top-25 in FG% defense can’t rebound the basketball. Perhaps this is the game for the Boilermakers to attack the board and improve their own rebounding statistics.

    VU’s official women’s basketball webpage can be found at http://www.valpo.edu/athletics/index.php?a=s&sid=9

    The Player

    Freshmen can’t immediately be expected to do too much when they enter the college scene. Whether it’s due to jelling with their teammates, learning to play against bigger, quicker, and stronger competition, or experiencing jitters, first-year players often find the transition between high school and college to be difficult. Not, so far, for freshman center Tamra Braun.

    In her first four college games, Braun went up against good frontline players at Notre Dame (Batteast, LaVere) and Oregon (Kraayveld). The 6’4” freshman from Savage, Minnesota, responded with nights of 8 points, 7 rebounds v. OU and 7 points, 9 rebounds v. ND.

    Before the game against Central Michigan, Tamra was averaging 5.5 points and 6 rebounds per game in less than twenty minutes per game. Her 56.3% FG shooting led the Crusaders by far and she had four of the team’s six blocks. Admittedly, Tamra has shot the ball only 16 times from the field and 7 from the free throw line (where she has converted four), but coach Keith Freeman must be pleased that his freshman post player hasn’t been intimidated by the quality of NCAA Division I play.

    Tamra’s official bio on the VU webpage can be found at http://www.valpo.edu/athletics/index.php?sid=9&a=s&a2=vrs&a3=rd&teamplayerid=590

    The Prediction

    Wednesday’s game between Purdue and Valparaiso will be seen on tape delay on Comcast Channel 43. It will be shown at 2 p.m. on December 5. Fans watching the game should see the following:

    VU and Purdue gamely battling for the first 3-4 minutes before Purdue’s defense settles down and keeps the Crusaders from getting into a flow on offense. While the Boilermakers won’t force a lot of turnovers against the Crusaders, the defense will jam up a lot of passing lanes as Purdue and VU are similar in height but the Boilermakers have an edge in quickness. There will be more than a couple of VU possessions that use a lot of the shot clock and at least one of them will end with a shot-clock violation.

    The Boilermakers will make a few turnovers early on, but Beth’s and Erika’s outside shooting will open up driving lanes for Shereka and the post for both Lindsey and Emily. The Crusaders have been a good defensive team in the past, but they did let Oregon and ND shooting better than 40% from the field and Villanova torched VU for a 54.9% clip. Look for a good-shooting, yet perimeter-oriented, Purdue squad to finish somewhere in between those percentages.

    Purdue should be able to rebound with Valparaiso, so the squad won’t be demoralized by an opponent's put-back after 30 seconds of strong defense. The Boilermakers’ aggressiveness could be costly, especially if they foul, as Valparaiso hits all of its free throws. Throw in a partisan Crusader crowd at the 5000-seat Athletic-Recreation Center and Purdue’s seniors will have to step up to keep the team focused in what should be a closer game than many Purdue fans would expect. Purdue still wins, however, 76-60, as the bench continues to play well, the starters keep their legs rested, and the Boilermakers’ athleticism eventually wears down VU both on the boards and on the defensive end.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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