Valparaiso (7-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #9 - Wednesday, December 3 - 6 p.m. CT
at Eastern Kentucky (4-1, 0-0 OVC)
McBrayer Arena (6,500) - Richmond, Ky.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso attempts to continue one of its best starts in recent history on Wednesday evening, as the Crusaders play their sixth consecutive game away from the ARC, traveling to Richmond, Ky. to face Eastern Kentucky. Valpo carries a six-game winning streak into Wednesday night’s meeting with the Colonels.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders went 3-0 last weekend to capture the inaugural Challenge in Music City tournament championship. Valpo trailed for less than a minute of game action, downing Drake, Murray State and Portland, all by at least 15 points. Alec Peters was tabbed Tournament MVP, while Darien Walker joined Peters 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)
Video - OVC Digital Network (free)
Links for the audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (73-37) is in his fourth season at the helm of the Crusader men's basketball program in 2014-15. In his first three years, Drew 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: The Crusaders and Colonels have a series which dates back almost 90 years, but the two squads have met just five times on the hardwood. Eastern Kentucky owns a 3-2 edge all-time, but it was Valpo which came out with the victory in the last meeting, cruising to an 82-60 win in front of a national TV audience on ESPNU on Feb. 23, 2013. The Crusaders enjoyed their best shooting performance in over 15 years in that victory, hitting 68.2% of their field goal attempts.
...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 Drake
- Valpo never trailed in the win over Drake after starting the game on a 13-3 run over the first ten minutes.
- The Crusaders led by eight (29-21) at the half and put the game away with a 12-2 run over the first seven minutes of the second half.
- Darien Walker led Valpo with 19 points, while Keith Carter scored 15 and Alec Peters posted ten points and six rebounds.
- The Crusaders committed just four turnovers in the win, their best total in at least 15 seasons.
...notes from Murray State
- Valpo won by 35 points, its biggest win over a D-I team since a 100-63 win over Chicago State on Feb. 7, 2002.
- Alec Peters led the way, scoring 26 points (9-14 FG, 5-8 3PT) in just 23 minutes and grabbing eight rebounds.
- Walker went 7-of-10 from the field and hit four 3-pointers for 18 points.
- The Crusaders went 17-of-24 (70.8%) from the floor in the second half and limited the Racers to 7-of-27 (25.9%) shooting over the final 20 minutes.
- Valpo finished the game 59.6% from the floor and hit 11-of-20 from the 3-point line.
...notes from Portland
- Valpo led by 22 at the break (42-20) in putting away previously unbeaten Portland.
- The Crusaders limited the Pilots to 7-of-24 (29.2%) shooting in the first half and hit 18-of-34 (52.9%) offensively, including six triples.
- Peters led the way with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while Walker added 13 points.
- Valpo out-rebounded the Pilots, who entered with a +12 rebounding margin average, by a 38-23 margin, led by ten boards from Vashil Fernandez.
- @ValpoBasketball returns to the ARC for the first time since Nov. 19 on Saturday night, hosting New Mexico at 7:05 p.m.
- The game against the Lobos is the first of three straight home games, as Valpo will host Trinity International (Dec. 10) and Ball State (Dec. 13).
...on the road
- While this is the sixth straight game away from home for @ValpoBasketball, it is just the second true road game of the year.
- The Crusaders dropped their only previous road game to Missouri, 56-41.
- Valpo is looking to flip its luck away from home this year, after going just 5-9 on the road last season.
- The Crusaders have struggled in non-league road contests since the start of the 2010-11 season, going 7-20 in such games.
- Eastern Kentucky enters Wednesday night with a 4-1 mark on the season, losing last time out at BYU.
- The Colonels were picked second in their division of the OVC in preseason polling of the media and third by the coaches.
- Preseason All-OVC selection senior Corey Walden leads EKU, averaging 19.4 points and 3.4 steals per game.
- EKU is currently ranked second in the nation in scoring margin, third in scoring offense, second in steals and second in free throw pct.
Peters - #HLMBB’s Best
- Sophomore Alec Peters was named #HLMBB Player of the Week by College Sports Madness for a second straight week after his MVP performance at the Challenge in Music City.
- Peters averaged 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in the Crusaders’ three wins, hitting 53.8% from the field and 10-of-17 from 3-point range.
- Peters claimed his first career Player of the Week honor from the Horizon League office the previous week, also earning CSM honors.
- Peters averaged 21.3 ppg and 6.0 rpg that week while shooting 69.7% (23-of-33) from the floor and 50% (7-of-14) from 3-point range.
- Peters leads #HLMBB in scoring (19.3 ppg) and ranks among the top-five in field goal pct., 3-point pct. and 3-pointers/game.
- Peters also leads #HLMBB in Offensive Rating [a measure of personal offensive efficiency] at 136.2, 13 points higher than anyone else in the league.
- Peters has had four ORating games of at least 150 this year after posting six such games all of last season.
- Peters’ three 30-point games since the start of last season is the most over that stretch by any current #HLMBB player.
- @ValpoBasketball enters Wednesday with a 7-1 record, matching the program’s best record through eight games since moving to D-I.
- The Crusaders were previously 7-1 through eight games in 2007-08 [started 10-1], 1998-99 [started 8-1] and 1996-97 [started 7-1].
- Valpo has won six games in a row, matching its longest winning streak under Bryce Drew [accomplished twice in 2012-13].
- The Crusaders are looking for their seventh straight win for the first time since an eight-game winning streak in 2007-08.
- The Crusaders haven’t had any drama down the stretch this season, as all of their wins have come by at least 13 points.
- The 59-46 UAPB win was the closest of the year for Valpo, but even that was a 21-point game in the final minutes.
- This is the first time the Crusaders have had a six-game winning streak, all by double figures, since the middle of the 2005-06 season.
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 .518 clip from deep in those three contests.
- But in the games against Missouri, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Drake and Portland, the Crusaders were just 23-of-77 (.299) from downtown.
- Overall, Valpo is hitting at a .413 clip from deep on the year, 28th in the nation, and ranks sixth nationally with 66 3-pointers made.
Versatility in the Lineups
- Valpo has started a three-guard lineup in each of the last five games, a group which has been +53 while on the court together.
- But the Crusaders can also go big, running lineups on the floor which include four players at 6’7” or taller.
- The Crusaders have used 6’8” E. Victor Nickerson at point guard for stretches, and even used 6’7” Jubril Adekoya at the point last time out.
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 464 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 945 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 MVP of the Challenge in Music City last weekend and named #HLMBB Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
- Peters scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win over Murray State, and scored 20 points in the win over Portland.
- 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.
- 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, going 9-of-15 from the floor.
- 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 paced the Crusaders in scoring in eight of the season's final ten games.
- Fernandez averaged 5.0 points/game and 6.7 rebounds/game at the Challenge in Music City, registering ten boards and three blocks versus Portland.
- 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 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 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 scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the victory over Drake and recorded a career-high four steals the next night versus Murray State.
- Carter handed out 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 scored six points and grabbed five rebounds versus Drake, and pulled down seven boards the next day against Murray State.
- 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 both his field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, en route to seven points in five minutes in the win over Murray State.
- 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 grabbed a pair of rebounds in the victory over Drake.
- Davidson hit a pair of second-half 3-pointers 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 scored seven points in the win over Murray State and went 4-of-5 for eight points in the victory against Portland.
- 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 in the victory 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 reached double figures for the fourth time this season in the win over Murray State, scoring ten points in 18 minutes.
- Skara scored ten second-half points off the bench 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 was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Challenge in Music City after scoring in double figures all three games.
- Walker scored a game-high 19 points (7-14 FG) against Drake.
- Walker added 18 points (7-10 FG, 4-5 3PT) in the win over Murray State and scored 13 points in the clinching win over Portland.
- Walker made his first two Crusader starts at Central Michigan, scoring 11 points in just 21 minutes in the win over Maine.
- 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 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.
- Walker matched his season best with 16 points versus Maine, 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.