PantherU

A Jerk’s Guide to the Valparaiso Crusaders

PantherU has decided to forego the usual ho-hum season previews of basketball teams in the Horizon League, instead…well…we’re just gonna trash your team in the style of Deadspin (yeah, we’re not even covering up that we’re ripping them off). For years, PantherU has been second only to the Horizon League office in pissing off Horizon League hoops fans, and it’s high time we embraced the villain. It’s all in good fun, so don’t take it seriously and be ready to enjoy the previews. If you are a fan of a Horizon League team and you want to be a part of trashing your own team, feel free to send all to jimmy@pantheru.com.

The team: Valparaiso Crusaders

2014 record: 18-16 (9-7 Horizon League)

The coach: Bryce Drew, who will likely jump ship and be replaced by Homer Drew 3.0, who will in turn be replaced by Nancy Drew. Are there any more Drews? Once Bryce Drew leaves – he’s flirted with a few schools, most notably Mississippi State – are we going to be all Drewsed out? There’s no third brother who is playing overseas after finishing his career at Valpo in like…2002?  Gerald Drew, you’re up!

Bryce is the current Drew, being the most famous of the Famous Drews. He’s the Drew who dripped Drew Dew all over Ole Miss in 1998. Dropped the Drewbomb. Since taking over the Crusaders from Homer Drew 2.0 in 2011, Bryce Drew has Drewed his way to a very solid 66-37 record in three Drewsian seasons. Their 2013 NCAA Tournament appearance was spearheaded by Ryan Broekhoff, who by the Drewsian mold is tall, foreign (the mold also counts those from the area) and shoots well.

The star: Alec Peters, who breaks the Drew mold by not being from within 30 miles of the school or outside 3,000, gets about five rebounds a game, which means he’s going to get a statue of him pulling down a rebound. It’s likely that he will average 4.8 rpg as a senior, since post players in Valpo pretty much are what they are from the second they get to campus until the second they leave.

Could be worse: You could have lost more players to transfer than Clay Yeo, who transferred to Bethel College, a school that probably would rank in the mid-level of Youngstown State’s non-conference schedule. You lose Lexus Williams for the season to injury (Lexus breaking down? Noooooooooo) but he’ll be back next season.

You do have Vashil Fernandez, who could have a long and illustrious career as an extra large hand model. Seriously, half the value of season tickets to Valpo games this year comes from watching Vashil Fernandez hold the basketball. It’s proportionate to Jennie Finch holding a softball. If both of her hands were baseball gloves.

This is the worst: No more Bobby Bottleservice, as Capobianco and his Jersey Shore look graduated to get into all kinds of new situations. But let’s be honest. The worst thing is the school colors, which are 1) Awful and 2) Creating children out of opposing fans. Since the Crusaders are good, and beat us frequently, it’s hard not to pull out a line of something that equates their brown and gold colors to poop and pee. Which is sad, especially since Milwaukee isn’t too much different – we have the same pee-gold, but our black is probably closer to what your poop looks like after a weekend of binge drinking and lots of Qdoba burritos.

Look forward to: 6’8″ power forward David Skara from Zagreb, Croatia. That’s the most Valpo anything ever. Seriously, if you have a distant cousin from eastern Europe and he’s above 6’5″, give him Bryce Drew’s phone number. It doesn’t matter if he looks like he’s 40 or is currently learning long division (a doctorate-level course in Renyarnia). Drew will take ’em.  Skara continues a long line of foreign Valpo bigs who will leave just as good as they came in. Honestly, Valpo with skilled bigs sounds scary (outside Peters, who is skilled).

Hey, how about that: Since placing 6th in the Horizon League in 2010, the Valpo Crusaders haven’t been worse than 4th place. They’re a constant under Drew, averaging 22 victories a year.

By the way, Samuel Haanpää is still playing overseas after dipping out of Valpo following his sophomore season in 2008. Turns out that was a pretty good idea.

What Valpo fans have to say:

Matt:

I was once asked not to be “highly critical” of Bryce and the staff. It was the Asst AD who gave me “the talk”. I haven’t been back since nor paid any attention to what is going on. Valpo sucks because we are still running the same LAME offense from 1994 where they pass the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock is almost gone then get three guys real close together on one side and huck up a shot. And because not a single big man has ever improved in their time on campus.

Brent:

I grew up in Chesterton, right by Valpo, before moving east after college. The people honestly believe that Valpo is some beacon of how mid-major basketball is supposed to be won, totally skipping over the fact that there’s no way all these foreign players are qualifying for school. If they are..? Maybe American education has gone to shit.

Tom:

We are doomed to being between 2nd and 4th for the rest of time. If we do finish 1st, we will crap out in the conference tournament. 2013 was a total fluke and wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the 55 buzzer beaters that happened in the conference tournament, serving us an overmatched WSU in the title game. If we had gotten Green Bay, Alec Brown would have kicked our ass. Buzzer beaters!

John:

Sometimes I wish Bryce Drew had missed The Shot so we wouldn’t hear about it every five seconds. They sometimes do promos where fans from the crowd re-enact the play “Pacer.” It sucks.


EDIT: An earlier version of this blog post had Lexus Williams as the transfer, not Clay Yeo. PantherU regrets the error.

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