Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Midconfans News 6/28/2006

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Frye starts his 'orientation’--The Post-Tribune

June 28, 2006

By Mark Lazerus / Post-Tribune staff writer

VALPARAISO — It didn’t take long for Keaton Frye to realize he wasn’t in Kansas, er, Iowa anymore.

In fact, it took him about two minutes of open gym time with his new Valparaiso teammates to figure it out.

“It’s a whole different level, especially coming from Iowa,” the incoming 6-3 freshman guard said. “There’s not a whole lot of quick guards in that state. The first couple of weeks was tough. Anybody here will tell you I couldn’t even make a layup. I’d put it up really low on the rim because the guards are so quick. Then you got Moussa (Mbaye) blocking your shot into the bleachers.”

A month later, Frye looked like he belonged, cutting hard to the basket for a layup and draining a short jumper a few possessions later Tuesday during the Crusaders’ final open gym of the early session — essentially a series of pickup games with teammates, recent graduates of VU and other schools, and a few high school standouts at the Athletics-Recreation Center.

“I’ve improved immensely from the beginning,” Frye said. “My shot, my quickness, I’m a little bigger, I’ve gained some weight — it’s been a great thing.”

Senior-to-be guard Jimmie Miles remembers going through the same thing as an incoming freshman.

“It’s a whole different ballgame coming from high school to college,” Miles said.

“In high school, you’re the man. In college, everybody has the same talent as you, if not better. It’s tough. But you keep working at it and you get used to it, and you get better.”

That’s the point of these unsupervised summer sessions, of course. And Miles, one of the veteran leaders who must fill the void left by the graduation of Valparaiso’s starting five, likes what he sees so far.

Of Valparaiso’s four newcomers, only Frye and 7-1 center Calum MacLeod participated in the open gyms. Swingman Paul Guede and 6-8 forward Samuel Haanpaa will join in for next week’s session.

“We look pretty good right now,” Miles said. “It’s just summer ball, not organized ball, but just by how they’re playing now, we’re going to have a good team. We’ve got Calum on the block, which is going to be a big help for us. (Sophomore-to-be Urule Igbavboa, a 6-8 forward) has been playing real good lately and working hard. And Keaton’s been getting much better; he’s stayed in the gym every night working on his shot. When the rest of the freshmen come in and we get our whole team together, we’re going to be all right.”

MacLeod is a newcomer, but he’s no freshman. The New Zealander played two seasons at Gonzaga before spending last season at a junior college. He has two years of eligibility left and isn’t planning on wasting any time.

“I hope I can come in and give them a whole bunch of good, solid minutes,” he said. “I think that’s what they’re looking for. I’m ready to play right away.”

While on-court improvement is an obvious goal of the summer scrimmages, it’s also critical for giving new players a chance to find their niche with the team, on and off the court.

Frye already feels right at home.

“I knew we’d get along, but nothing like this,” he said. “The team’s great. All the guys have really taken me under their wing and showed me the ins and outs of college.”

That includes scintillating stuff such as daily wake-up calls for summer classes, and team trips to Wal-Mart for groceries.

“Everything’s a team thing,” Frye said. “It’s a great atmosphere to be in.”

Contact Mark Lazerus at 648-3140 or

Diebler in Action--The NWI Times

2006 Mid-Con Presidents Council Meeting concludes in

Flaska Adds Bonham and Zusperreguy to 2006-07 Gents Basketball Roster--GoCentenary.Com

UMKC Camp Season Hits Full Swing--UMKC Kangaroos

Monday, June 26, 2006

Midconfans News 6/26/2006

Real madness: A 128-team NCAA tournament field--The Chicago Tribune/span>

NCAA to Weigh Expanding Basketball"

BOYS BASKETBALL: Drew eyes bigger camp in 2007--The Post-Tribune

June 26, 2006

By Neal Boyer / Post-Tribune correspondent

Valparaiso University men’s basketball coach Homer Drew likes to think big.

As in hopefully doubling the size of the inaugural high school boys Team Camp for next summer.

A total of 29 teams, 12 local, competed over the weekend in four divisions on five courts in the Athletic Recreation Center.

“It went extremely well for our first year,” Drew said Sunday while watching Valparaiso High School finish second in the large and small school varsity divisions. Valpo’s JV was undefeated Friday and Saturday in pool play then moved up Sunday, going 2-1 vs. varsity teams.

“We’d like to double to 60 teams next year,” Drew said, adding extra courts might be used at Valpo High and the new Courts of NWI facility opening this fall north of Valparaiso.

All participants received a VALPO/Nike Camp T-shirt with seven games guaranteed.

Camp director Jack Gabor, though tired, also was all smiles Sunday.

“We got nothing but positive responses from coaches. My goal is to make all the coaches happy,” said Gabor who coached boys basketball at Bishop Noll, Kankakee Valley and Griffith after seven years at Huntington North.

Noll and KV were among local schools competing, joined by Lowell, Hobart, Hebron, Washington Township, South Central, Hammond Clark, Portage, Calumet and Knox.

“This is a great tournament; I’m sure it will grow,” said Valpo coach Jim Biggs. “They accommodated scheduling problems.”

Valpo’s JV, coached by Dave Karp, won the “Brown” division two-minute game-ending situation tourney Saturday night. Arlington, which nipped Valpo in the big school varsity final, also won the game-ending tourney.

“Arlington had a good weekend,” noted Gabor, a longtime friend of the Indy school’s coach and AD. A clinic for officials may be added next summer, said Gabor.

“We can’t wait to do it again,” Drew said.

Bryce Drew to speak at Lake County Athlete of the Week Banquet--The NWI Times

Q&A will Valparaiso University director of athletics Mark LaBarbera--The NWI Times

Friday, June 23, 2006

Midconfans News 6/24/2006


Southern Utah

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: First-year Southern Utah head women's basketball coach Steve Hodson announced Thursday the hiring of a pair of former Thunderbirds, Kit Janes and Casey Cooke, to round out his coaching staff for the upcoming 2006-07 season. Cooke has already begun her tenure as a T-Bird assistant while Janes will join the staff July 1.

SUU fills coaching vacanciesThe Spectrum, St. George

--The Indy Star

The Kansas City Star

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Valparaiso guard headed for Brazil--The Post-Tribune

June 23, 2006

By Mark Lazerus / Post-Tribune staff writer

When school starts in the fall, Valparaiso University’s Jake Diebler likely will have a better “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” story to tell than most of his fellow students.

The Valparaiso sophomore-to-be, a guard for the Crusaders’ men’s basketball team, leaves July 1 to spend more than two weeks in Brazil.

“Can’t wait,” he said.

Diebler will be heading to Sao Paolo for 17 days as part of Athletes In Action, a group that uses sports as a platform for missionary efforts.

The group will spend 17 days holding camps and occasionally playing college, semipro and professional teams in Brazil.

“We’ll be working with little kids, doing basketball camps and little Bible studies and different things like that,” Diebler said.

Diebler’s been lobbying for a spot on the “team” for some time now. Former teammate Dan Oppland was on the trip last year, and some of the Athletes In Action officials were at Valparaiso home games last season. Plus, Valparaiso head coach Homer Drew has coached on the team before, as has director of basketball operations Luke Gore. And Diebler said assistant coach Bryce Drew played for Athletes In Action once.

So Diebler took it upon himself to work all those angles and get on the team. He’s one of about 10 players — mostly Division I and Division II — who were able to raise the money to be a part of the trip.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “It’s kind of a lengthy process as you go through it. I was fortunate to get enough support from back home to take care of everything for me.”

Diebler’s looking forward to playing some games, but the missionary work is the primary goal of the trip.

“They’re looking for not only some decent basketball players, but most importantly some strong Christians,” he said. “That’s probably the most motivating aspect — my faith. I’m looking at this as an opportunity to try to use a gift that God has given me in basketball to maybe give back and spread his word.”

As if the basketball, the missionary work and the exotic locale weren’t enough, Diebler’s got one other thing he’s looking forward to in Brazil.

“We should get to see what enthusiasm for sports is all about if they keep winning in the World Cup,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Contact Mark Lazerus at 648-3140 or

A taste of Mid-Con life without Valpo begins (Headline mine)--The NWI Times

Steinbrecher inducted into NACDA Hall of Fame--The NWI Times

Hodson Names Janes, Cook Assistants--SOUTHERN UTAH THUNDERBIRDS

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Midconfans News 6/11/2006

Allen to join Westerwinds hoop squadThe Macomb Journal

MIKE HUTTON COMMENTARY: Horizon move puts Valparaiso back on the map--The Post-Tribune

June 11, 2006

Valparaiso University’s move to the Horizon League is the most compelling news to come out of Crusader Land since VU made it to the Sweet 16 in 1998.

Give VU athletic director Mark LaBarbera credit for facilitating the long-overdue move to a conference where there are plenty of natural rivalries.

LaBarbera makes a point of saying that VU, to his knowledge, had never been invited to the conference. Hence, the reason they switched addresses now, not five years ago.

My question to his predecessors is why hadn’t anyone ever asked, especially because we know that the Horizon’s interest in VU has been simmering for a while?

The answer is more complicated than the one VU laid out publically. Sure, it’s much healthier for the student-athletes. They won’t miss as much class time. Travel expenses will be reduced and games will be more interesting.

But all those things were true five years ago, too.

What took so long?

The short answer is VU started losing. It’s a strange paradox, but the worse VU played, the more it became candidate for a better conference.

VU president Alan Harre and former athletic director Bill Steinbrecher were deeply committed to the Mid-Con, even if the fan base couldn’t understand how or why they were supposed to get excited about games against Southern Utah and Centenary. Their affinity for the conference was based on loyalty. They kept it afloat in the early 1990s when teams bailed on them. It was a good and necessary port for them then, when they didn’t have a home.

They also had a stronger tie that bound them together. Jon Steinbrecher, Bill Steinbrecher’s son, was Mid-Con Commissioner until 2003.

It didn’t matter how good the younger Steinbrecher was at delicately balancing the needs of schools that were so spread out.

The perception existed that Steinbrecher and Steinbrecher went together like VU and the Mid-Con. The hardest call of all would be for dad to bail on his son — especially when VU was the bedrock of the Mid-Con.

If that relationship existed today, it certainly would’ve made VU’s exit from the Mid-Con more complicated.

The larger issue is VU can no longer count on the almost automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. From 1995 to 2004, they earned eight bids.

They weren’t close to dancing the last two years.

Their recruiting edge was evaporating every day. There was going to be a time in the future where they couldn’t guarantee a high school senior a trip to the NCAA. That was part of their pitch to kids.

The landscape of the league changed. Oral Roberts and IUPUI improved. VU slipped. That made the timing for a move perfect.

Anytime there was rumbling about making a change in the past, the case for staying put was as easy as saying N-C-A-A. Which translated in dollars. In 2002, Bill Steinbrecher said that a trip to tournament was worth roughly $100,000 to the school. They can save more than that with reduced travel expenses.

Now the hard part begins. Valpo has to find a way to be competitive in a better arena.

But they’re doing the right thing. They’re trying.

Contact Mike Hutton at 648-3139 or