Men’s basketball will be tested early and often and it starts on Friday. With this in mind, here are a few things to look for this weekend.

Injuries

The Crusaders are getting thinner and thinner and they haven’t even played a game yet.

Freshman Derrik Smits is a game time decision after spraining his ankle in practice this week. Shane Hammik will also be a question mark come game time as he injured his ankle during the preseason game against University of Indianapolis. E. Victor Nickerson is still out with a wrist injury.

Backup point guard Max Joseph missed practice with a hamstring injury, but should be ready to go. Fans would think that Lexus Williams is injured, but Bryce Drew said he is ready to play.

Backup point guard position

All indications point to Max Joseph being behind Keith Carter going into the weekend. Joseph played 16 minutes against UIndy, compared to Lexus Williams playing 12.1 seconds.

This is a bit of a surprise, because Joseph only played 10.9 minutes per game last season. Williams, on the other hand, was named to the all-freshman team in the 2013-14 season. He was sidelined with an injury last season.

Also, not having E. Victor Nickerson has helped Max Joseph. Don’t expect big offensive numbers from Joseph, but he will give help on the defensive end due to his athleticism.

Foul trouble

Vashil Fernandez has to show his discipline on the defensive end this weekend. If he gets into foul trouble, it forces Bryce Drew to go with a smaller lineup. The Crusaders are deep enough to play without Fernandez and possibly Derrik Smits, but Valpo’s height is an advantage over both IPFW and Iona.

Alec Peters

Even with all of the new pieces, Alec Peters will be the guy for the Crusaders. He played the most minutes, he took the most shots and scored the most points in the preseason game. The Crusaders will go to Peters in the fourth quarter and he will most likely score.

Schedule

The Crusaders play seven games in 12 days in the early season. They play one game at 9 a.m. Central Time at Rhode Island and come back to play IU Kokomo at home the next day. If the Crusaders get out to an early lead, expect Bryce Drew to play most of his bench.

The views expressed are those the editor and not necessarily of The Torch. Contact Tom Mantice at torchsports@valpo.edu.

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