The Valpo Women’s Basketball team is back and more motivated than ever. The team made the largest RPI, rating percentage index, jump of any Division-I program in the nation and posted seventeen overall victories last season. The Crusaders ended up with a 9-9 conference record last season and an 8-3 non-conference record.
Coach Mary Evans enters her third season as head coach for the Crusaders. With Evans' guidance, Valpo averaged 8.6 3-pointers per game, a mark which led the MVC and ranked 15th nationally. With 250 total 3-pointers, the 2019-20 season moved into second place in a single season in program history.
Valpo’s first regular-season game will be tipping-off New Years Day [Friday, Jan. 1] against Loyola. Coach Evans is excited about the talent and determination of her team even though the pandemic has put a halt to sports.
“The team is doing well. Since the start of school, we are getting back into a normal routine. We’re starting to get that breath of fresh air as the regular season approaches,” said Evans.
Earlier in the year, students and athletes were all sent home and our semester was cut short. The team, since then, has been physically and mentally training as well as relaxing with their families.
“Head coach voices are heard all season long so I wanted them to stay relaxed at home and give them a break,” Evans said.
The woman’s program ended last season on a brilliant run. Evans has been such a key factor in the way she manages the team and how she approaches big games.
“The biggest thing is when you make the jump from high school to college, it’s about how hard you play. Learning that every possession we have is important. And understanding that mistakes are going to be made and we must learn from them,” Evans said.
Evans’ first season as coach was a statement. The way she coaches and mentors the team helps her ability to win close games. The team won seven games decided by eight points or fewer, the programs most since 2012-2013. One of those wins was a 79-77 decision over Indiana State on March 14 in the opening round of the MVC Tournament.
“The team has come back and is very excited. Making sure everyone is healthy and a full-go. We’re fortunate we have returning players and the five incoming players have done a phenomenal job picking things up,” Evans said.
With adapting to online school and mandating social distance, it’s been quite the transition for incoming student-athletes and Evans praises the hard work of all her players. In addition to winning and improving from last season, Evans and her team want to reach the postseason tournament.
“I believe that this team would love the opportunity to continue to build the program. They are really excited. We had some big wins late in the season. From a talent standpoint, we are a very talented team. A lot of returners and incoming freshmen are full of talent. It’s time to bring all of this together and compete,” Evans said.
The Valpo community is excited to have both basketball teams back in action. The players are just as excited to continue to compete after their season was cut short. Get ready for the new year because Valpo basketball is back. The Crusader’s first game is against Loyola on Jan. 1.