Will Valpo Fit In?
(St. Louis, MO) – If Valparaiso is joining the Missouri Valley Conference, the big question remains, ‘Is Valparaiso a good fit?’ The Crusaders have been a Horizon League power for numerous years, they fit the supposed geographical foot print and are a basketball-centric athletic program.
But do they fit?
The Missouri Valley Conference prides itself on being a ‘coaches’ league’, promoting great academics and being institutions that promote the right kind of values. It seems to this writer that Valpo has a great chance to fit like a glove.
Matt Lottich is entering his second year as the Crusader head coach after three years as a Valpo assistant. Trained in the ‘Valpo Way’ under Bryce Drew, the former Stanford Cardinal player led the the Crusaders to the Horizon League championship. The Crusaders have won five regular season titles in the last six seasons.
In the most recent APR report, Valparaiso received a perfect 1,000 score.
The private Lutheran school is constantly promoting positive community building programs.
They seem to fit just fine.
During our recent trip to speak with Illinois State coach Dan Muller and Bradley’s Brian Wardle, I broached what some thought was a forbidden subject. Both coaches were candid about how they felt about Valpo’s possible addition to the Valley.
Wardle coached in the Horizon League and against the Crusaders (with Green Bay). He says Valpo is a good fit because of their proven record of success.
Muller has never coached at Valparaiso, but as an Indiana native, he is fully aware of the Valpo history. He believes the Crusaders fit well. I had heard most of the Valley coaches more in favor of maintaining the ten team structure currently employed in the MVC. Muller not only tries to break down the pros and cons of a ten or twelve team model and admits that without disrespecting any other program, he felt Murray State would have been a great addition to the Valley.
Don’t expect ticker tape parades, the popping of champaign corks when the announcement comes concerning the Valley’s new tenth team. In our previous story with Commissioner Doug Elgin told us there will be a time this summer when Valley staff members will head to Valparaiso and truly begin the process of ‘Valley-ization’ of the Crusader athletic program.
Valley officials and Valpo administrators are excited about this change, but they have been muted by the necessary delays of the official announcement. As evidence of their excitement that recently leaked out, when we tweeted that Valpo was now the Valley team with the best APR and the best recruiting class, Valpo Athletic Director Mark LaBarbera retweeted my post.
— Mark LaBarbera (@ValpoAD) May 10, 2017
We at Valley Hoops Insider look forward to getting to know the Crusaders!