Valparaiso (4-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #6-8 - Challenge in Music City - Nashville, Tenn.
Friday, November 28 - 5 p.m. - vs. Drake (1-3, 0-0 MVC)
Saturday, November 29 - 7:30 p.m. - vs. Murray State (2-2, 0-0 OVC)
Sunday, November 30 - 1 p.m. - vs. Portland (3-0, 0-0 WCC)
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso continues its busy season-opening slate following the Thanksgiving holiday with another neutral-site event, heading down to Nashville for three games in three days at the inaugural Challenge in Music City. The Crusaders face Drake, Murray State and Portland over the course of the tournament.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso posted a perfect 2-0 mark last weekend at the Central Michigan Tournament. The Crusaders, who never trailed in either contest, downed Arkansas-Pine Bluff to open play on Friday afternoon, 59-46. Valpo then came out firing Sunday morning against Maine, starting the game on a 17-2 run en route to a 93-70 win. Alec Peters and Vashil Fernandez represented the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team.
Following the Crusaders: Audio - Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WJOB, 1230 AM, Hammond) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Color)
Links for the audio, as well as live stats, for all three games will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (70-37) is in his fourth season at the helm of the Crusader men's basketball program in 2014-15. In his first three years, Drew has led Valpo to 66 victories and postseason berths in each of his three seasons. The 2012 HL Coach of the Year, Drew ascended to the head coaching position on May 17, 2011 after spending six seasons as an assistant and associate head coach with the Crusaders.
Series Notes: Valpo has brief series in program history with all three teams it is facing this weekend. The Crusaders are 3-2 all-time against Drake, but have not faced the Bulldogs since 1967 - a 92-76 Drake win. Valpo’s only matchup with Portland in program history actually came just ten days after its last meeting with Drake - a 63-52 Crusader win. This will be the third straight year the Crusaders have met Murray State on the hardwood. Valpo is 2-1 all-time against the Racers, including wins in each of the two most recent meetings.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- @ValpoBasketball has been picked to finish in fourth place in the league standings in 2014-15 in preseason polling.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last four years.
- Sophomore Alec Peters was the lone underclassman on the preseason #HLMBB First Team All-League squad.
...looking back at last year
- @ValpoBasketball won 18 games and finished in fourth place in the #HLMBB regular season.
- The Crusaders advanced to the postseason for the fourth straight year, falling in the first round of the CIT to Columbia.
- Lavonte Dority was a First Team All-League selection and also earned All-Region honors.
- Alec Peters and Lexus Williams were both named to the league's All-Freshman Team.
...notes from Arkansas-Pine Bluff
- Valpo never trailed in the win over UAPB after starting the game on a 9-2 run over the first 3:28.
- The Crusaders continued their strong work on the glass, out-rebounding UAPB 37-20.
- Valpo grabbed 18 offensive rebounds while limiting the Lions to just 11 defensive boards.
- Keith Carter set a new career high with seven assists in the win.
...notes from Maine
- The Crusaders started the game against Maine (a 9:30 a.m. start) on a 17-2 run and never led by less than eight points.
- Alec Peters set a new career high with 31 points (9-13 FG, 4-6 3PT, 9-10 FT), 22 of which came in the first half as Valpo led 53-28 at the break.
- Valpo shot 12-of-21 (57.1%) from behind the 3-point line, their best pct. (at least 10 makes) against a D-I team since going 15-of-26 (57.7%) vs. UIC on 2/5/13.
- The Crusaders tallied 14 steals, their best performance against a D-I team since racking up 14 thefts vs. Georgia Southern on 11/9/12.
- All 11 active players got into the game by the 16:21 mark of the second half.
- Vashil Fernandez posted new career highs of 4 steals and 2 assists to go with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 blocked shots - just one off the program record.
- @ValpoBasketball closes out a six-game stretch away from home on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at Eastern Kentucky.
- The Crusaders then return home to the ARC, hosting perennial top-25 program New Mexico on Saturday night, Dec. 6.
...at a neutral site
- @ValpoBasketball enters this weekend 2-0 in neutral-site contests this year after a pair of wins last weekend.
- The Crusaders had not played back-to-back neutral-site games at the same court since 2010.
- This is the first time since the end of the 1997-98 season (2 Mid-Con Tournament games, 3 NCAA games) that the Crusaders have played five straight neutral-site contests.
- Drake currently sits at 1-3 on the season, most recently defeating IUPUI on Tuesday night.
- The Bulldogs have lost a home game to Bowling Green and have dropped road contests at DePaul and Western Michigan.
- Freshman guard Reed Timmer leads the team in scoring with 14.3 ppg and is averaging 34.8 minutes per contest.
- Senior swingman Chris Caird and senior guard Jordan Daniels chip in 11.8 and 10.3 points per game, respectively.
- Murray State enters the weekend with a 2-2 mark on the season after falling at Xavier earlier this week.
- The Racers will play Portland on Friday before Saturday’s game against the Crusaders.
- OVC preseason Player of the Year Cameron Payne averages 18.5 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 steals per game.
- Portland enters the weekend at a perfect 3-0, with wins over Concordia, San Jose State and SIU-Edwardsville.
- One of the nation’s tallest teams, the Pilots start two 6’11” players and bring 7’0” and 6’11” players off the bench.
- Senior guard Kevin Bailey paces Portland, averaging 18.7 ppg.
- Senior big man Volodymyr Gerun adds 14.3 ppg and also pulls down a team-best 9.0 rpg.
Peters - #HLMBB’s Best Last Week
- Sophomore Alec Peters claimed his first career Player of the Week honor from the Horizon League office last week.
- Peters also was named #HLMBB Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
- Peters averaged 21.3 ppg and 6.0 rpg in three wins while shooting 69.7% (23-of-33) from the floor and 50% (7-of-14) from 3-point range.
- Peters scored a career-best 31 points against Maine, making him one of just three Crusaders in the last two decades with three or more 30-point games.
- Peters’ three 30-point games since the start of last season is the most over that stretch by any current #HLMBB player.
The Valparaiso 500
- Peters reached the 500-point milestone for his career with his final basket against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
- The sophomore needed just 38 career games to reach 500 points, the third-fastest four-year player in Crusader history to reach the mark.
- Only Bryce Drew (36) and Lubos Barton (37) reached the milestone faster after starting at Valpo as freshmen.
To Three or Not to Three...
- @ValpoBasketball has been on an alternating pattern of hot and cold from behind the 3-point line to start the 2014-15 campaign.
- Starting with the year’s first game, the Crusaders have made at least ten 3-pointers in every other game, hitting at a .508 clip from deep in those three contests.
- Last time out against Maine, Valpo shot a season-best .571 from behind the arc, hitting a season-high 12 triples.
- But in the games against Missouri and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Crusaders were just 9-of-37 (.243) from downtown.
- Overall, Valpo is hitting at a 41% clip from deep on the year, currently 45th in the nation.
Versatility in the Lineups
- Valpo started a three-guard lineup in both games at CMU, a group which was a +30 in 25 minutes of action in the two wins.
- But the Crusaders can also go big, running lineups on the floor which include four players at 6’8” or taller.
- The versatility is embodied by 6’8” junior E. Victor Nickerson, who, with a few subs, went from playing point guard to playing the 4.
- Senior Vashil Fernandez ranks 13th nationally entering the weekend, averaging a #HLMBB high 3.6 blocked shots/game.
- Fernandez earned All-Tournament honors last weekend at CMU after combining for 11 rejections versus UAPB and Maine.
- Fernandez has recorded at least two blocks in all five games this year, the third time in his career he has had such a stretch.
- With his 18 blocks this year, Fernandez now has 90 career blocks, tied with Morris Smith for sixth in Valpo history.
Who's Back This Season
- @ValpoBasketball returns just seven letterwinners from its 2013-14 team, returning 48.3% of scoring and 56.8% of rebounding.
- Leading the returnees is preseason First Team All-League selection Alec Peters (12.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
- Jubril Adekoya (5.8 ppg, 53.7% FG%) and Vashil Fernandez (58 blocks last year, fourth-most in program history) also are returning starters.
- Five eligible newcomers also join the fray in 2014-15 - two with junior eligibility and three freshmen.
- Sophomore Lexus Williams returns as well, but is expected to miss the entire season.
Lots of New Faces
- Nearly half of the @ValpoBasketball roster (6 of 14 players) is new to the program this season.
- Five players are eligible for the first time this season, including Charlotte transfer E. Victor Nickerson, who sat out at Valpo last year.
- Darien Walker came to Valpo from junior college, while Max Joseph, David Skara and Tevonn Walker are all true freshmen.
- Shane Hammink (LSU) and Chandler Levingston Simon (UMKC) both transferred to Valpo last off-season and have to sit out this year.
The International Flavor
- This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that @ValpoBasketball has cultivated over the past two decades.
- The Crusaders boast five international players on this year’s roster from four different countries.
- Represented are Canada (Joseph, T. Walker), Croatia (Skara), Jamaica (Fernandez) and Netherlands (Hammink).
- The duo from Canada mark the first Canadian players in program history.
- Over the past two decades, @ValpoBasketball has welcomed 31 international players from 18 different countries.
- Crusader signee Daniel Relvao is from Portugal and will become the first Portugese player in program history when he joins in 2015-16.
In the Crusaders’ Future
- Daniel Relvao and Derrik Smits have both signed NLIs to join @ValpoBasketball as freshmen for the 2015-16 campaign.
- Relvao (6’9”, 235 lbs.) hails from Coimbra, Portugal and currently plays prep ball at Mountain Mission [Va.] School.
- Relvao averaged 8.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 3.3 bpg for Portugal last summer in Division B of the FIBA U18 World Championship.
- Smits (7’0”, 230 lbs.) will join Valpo from Zionsville [Ind.] H.S., where he averaged in double figures last season & also posted 3.6 rpg and 1.8 bpg.
- Smits is the son of former Indiana Pacers star center Rik Smits.
- Bryce Drew is in his fourth season as head coach of @ValpoBasketball and is in his tenth season overall on the coaching staff.
- Last season, Drew led the Crusaders to 18 wins and their fourth straight postseason berth.
- In 2012-13, Drew guided Valpo to its second straight regular season title, its first tournament title and a school record 26 wins.
- Drew was named #HLMBB Coach of the Year in 2011-12 in his first season as head coach - 22 wins and #HLMBB regular season title.
- Drew was the first Crusader men’s basketball Coach of the Year since 2001-02, when dad Homer won the honor in the Mid-Con.
- Prior to coaching, Drew spent seven seasons playing professionally, including six seasons in the NBA.
- Drew was a two-time Mid-Con MVP in his playing days with Valparaiso, helping the team to three NCAA tournament appearances.
- Drew hit “The Shot”, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament, to lift the Crusaders over Ole Miss.
- “The Shot” was named one of the top-35 All-Time Madness Moments by the NCAA as part of the celebration of 75 Years of March Madness.
- Bryce is the third member of the Drew family to serve as head coach of @ValpoBasketball.
- Father Homer was head coach from 1988-2002, and then returned to lead Valpo from 2003-11.
- Brother Scott (current head coach of @BaylorMBB) led the Crusaders during the 2002-03 season after nine seasons as an assistant under Homer.
- A Drew has been at the helm of the Crusaders for the last 26 years. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- The Drew family has combined to lead @ValpoBasketball to 461 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 940 collegiate victories over a combined 45+ seasons of head coaching. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- @ValpoBasketball boasts one of the nation’s highest-scoring staffs, as a trio of coaches combined for 4,211 points during their D-I careers.
- Head coach Bryce Drew scored 2,142 points during his four-year career with the Crusaders.
- Assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. tallied 1,178 points during his four-year career with Illinois.
- Assistant coach Matt Lottich poured in 891 points over his four-year career at Stanford.
- Assistant coach Luke Gore also played collegiately at NAIA Bethel [Tenn.] College.
- Peters was named to the All-Tournament Team at CMU and was named #HLMBB Player of the Week.
- Peters set a new career high with 31 points (9-13 FG, 4-6 3PT, 9-10 FT) in the win over Maine last time out.
- Peters is one of just three Crusaders with three 30+ point games in their careers in the last two decades.
- Peters went 8-of-9 from inside the arc in a 19-point, seven-rebound performance in the win over UAPB.
- Peters tied for game-high honors with 27 points in the season-opening win over ETSU.
- Peters went 9-of-15 from the field, hit four 3-pointers and grabbed six rebounds in the win over the Buccaneers.
- Peters was a preseason First Team All-League selection after earning All-Freshman team honors last year as a rookie.
- Peters averaged 12.7 ppg and 4.8 rpg last year, becoming the highest-scoring Valpo freshman since 1998-99.
- A four-time #HLMBB Freshman of the Week, Peters also grabbed the most rebounds by a Valpo freshman since 1999-2000.
- Peters led the Crusaders in scoring 12 times in 2013-14 and in rebounding on nine occasions.
- Peters finished his freshman year tenth in the league in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and 3-pointers/game.
- Peters paced the Crusaders in scoring in eight of the season's final ten games.
- Fernandez was named to the All-Tournament Team at CMU.
- Fernandez was one off his career high with six blocked shots and also scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in the win over Maine.
- Fernandez also set new career bests with four steals and two assists last time out.
- Fernandez recorded 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the win over UAPB.
- Fernandez registered his third career double-double in the win versus IUSB, scoring 13 points and pulling down ten rebounds.
- Fernandez averaged 4.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a junior, and blocked 58 shots - fourth-most in a season in Valpo history.
- Fernandez averaged 2.4 blocks/game in league play, second-most in the Horizon League.
- Fernandez led Valpo in rebounding nine times and blocked at least three shots on nine occasions.
- Fernandez matched the program record for blocks in a game with seven rejections last year at UIC.
- Fernandez set new career bests last season with 14 points (Murray State) and 14 rebounds (at East Tennessee State).
- Fernandez spent the summer of 2014 playing for the Jamaican national team at FIBA Centrobasket.
- Carter combined for 13 points, 11 assists and four steals in Valpo’s two wins last weekend, including a career-best seven assists in the win over UAPB.
- Carter tallied ten points and five rebounds in the Crusaders’ win over IU South Bend.
- Carter appeared in each of the final 22 games of the 2013-14 season after becoming eligible, averaging 5.7 ppg and 2.3 apg.
- Carter connected at a 40% clip from 3-point range in his first year as a Crusader.
- Carter scored in double figures three times last year, including a career-best 19 points in come-from-behind win over UIC.
- Carter handed out at least four assists on six occasions, including a season-best six assists against Youngstown State.
- Carter, a former Illinois Mr. Basketball runner-up, came to Valpo after spending the first half of his freshman year at Saint Louis.
- Adekoya came off the bench for the first time this season against UAPB, registering seven points and seven rebounds.
- Adekoya tallied eight points and grabbed six rebounds in each of Valpo’s first two wins of the season.
- Adekoya appeared in all 34 games as a rookie for Valpo in 2013-14, starting 24 times and averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
- Adekoya shot at a 63.6% clip from inside the 3-point line last year.
- Adekoya led the Crusaders in rebounding four times and scored in double figures on seven occasions.
- Adekoya scored a season-high 13 points at Youngstown State and pulled down a season-best nine rebounds at Detroit.
- Chadwick made his first career start as a Crusader in the win over IUSB, playing 19 minutes and grabbing four rebounds.
- Chadwick appeared in 12 games last season in his first season playing for the Crusaders, scoring career-best 14 points vs. Cincinnati Christian.
- Chadwick appeared in 52 games over his first two collegiate seasons at Rice.
- Davidson hit a pair of second-half 3-pointers last time out in the win over Maine.
- Davidson saw 11 minutes off the bench versus IUSB, scoring three points and tallying a pair of steals.
- Davidson appeared in 14 games off the bench as a freshman, going for seven points and five assists in a win over Cincinnati Christian.
- Davidson was the area Player of the Year following his senior year at Andrean [Ind.] H.S.
E. Victor Nickerson
- Nickerson handed out a game-high four assists last time out in the win over Maine.
- Nickerson paced Valpo with 12 points (4-5 FG, 3-3 FT) off the bench at Missouri.
- Nickerson sat out last season after transferring to Valpo from Charlotte.
- Nickerson appeared in 60 games for Charlotte over his first two years, starting 15 times as a sophomore.
- Nickerson was an Honorable Mention All-State selection as a senior in HS, helping lead Norcross to Georgia 5A state title.
- Joseph tallied three points, four rebounds and three assists over IUSB.
- Joseph was a RSEQ Second Team All-Star in his senior season at Vanier College.
- Joseph earned First Team All-Star honors at the national tournament, helping lead Vanier to a berth in the bronze medal match.
- Skara scored ten second-half points off the bench last time out in the win over Maine.
- Skara led all players with 17 points (6-9 FG) and also handed out six assists without committing a turnover in the win over IUSB.
- Skara scored in double figures off the bench in the season opener vs. ETSU, going for 11 points and five rebounds in just 15 minutes.
- Skara spent last season at Midwest Elite Prep (Ind.) Academy, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game for the Warriors.
- Skara represented Croatia at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, helping team to the bronze medal.
- Skara appeared in four games at that tournament, recording ten points and five rebounds in a win over South Korea.
- Walker made his first two Crusader starts last weekend at Central Michigan.
- Walker scored 11 points in just 21 minutes in the win over Maine last time out.
- Walker tallied ten points and six rebounds in the victory over IUSB.
- Walker scored 20 points in the season-opening win over ETSU, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
- Walker scored 14 of his points against the Buccaneers in the first half, including four triples.
- Walker spent last season at John A. Logan College, where he averaged 13.4 ppg and was a First Team All-Region 24 selection.
- Walker played as a freshman at Arizona Western College, registering 11.1 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
- Walker helped Chicago powerhouse Simeon H.S. to back-to-back Illiois 4A state titles.
- Walked matched his season best with 16 points versus Maine last time out, hitting 6-of-10 from the field and grabbing four rebounds.
- Walker registered four steals in the win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
- Walker went 4-of-6 from the field for 10 points in the win over IUSB.
- Walker made his Crusader debut in the season opener against East Tennessee State, starting and playing a team-high 32 minutes.
- Walker finished with 16 points, including a perfect 8-8 from the foul line, and also handed out three assists without a turnover.
- Walker was an All-Canadian selection as a senior and ranked as high as eighth in his class nationally.
- Walker was league Player of the Year as a senior at Vanier College, leading the league and ranking 14th nationally with 20.8 ppg.
- Williams is expected to miss the entire season after suffering an offseason knee injury.
- Williams was a Horizon League All-Freshman Team selection as a rookie last year.
- Williams appeared in all 34 games for the Crusaders as a freshman, averaging 6.5 ppg and 2.4 apg.
- Williams led the team as a freshman with 35 steals.
- Williams scored in double figures eight times, including a career-best 22 points in a win at Detroit.