Valparaiso (12-2, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #15 - Monday, December 29 - 6 p.m. CT
at James Madison (7-5, 0-0 CAA)
JMU Convocation Center (6,426) - Harrisonburg, Va.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Ranked eighth in the most recent iteration of the Mid-Major top-25 poll and receiving a vote in the most recent AP Top 25 poll, Valparaiso returns from Christmas to put a four-game winning streak on the line Monday evening at James Madison in the Crusaders’ final non-league game of the regular season.
Last Time Out: Less than 24 hours after a hard-fought come-from-behind win at IPFW, the Crusaders cruised to a win over Goshen, scoring the game’s first 17 points en route to an 82-55 victory last Sunday. Alec Peters scored 13 points in the opening five minutes and ended the game with 29 points, while Keith Carter and Tevonn Walker added ten points apiece. Vashil Fernandez set a new school record with eight blocked shots, one day after tallying six at IPFW.
Following the Crusaders: Audio - Valpo Sports Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WJOB, 1230 AM, Hammond) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Color)
Video - Free, through James Madison’s MadiZONE HD SportsNet
Links for the audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (78-38) 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: This is just the second all-time meeting between Valparaiso and James Madison, and serves as the back end of a home-and-home series which started at the ARC last season. In that game, the Crusaders downed the Dukes 81-49, shooting 58% from the field and holding JMU to 38.1% shooting. Jordan Coleman paced four Valpo players in double figures with 16 points, while Lavonte Dority and Alec Peters added 15 points each.
...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 IPFW
- Valpo rallied from behind for a third straight win, trailing by as many as nine points.
- The Crusaders were still down five (62-57) with 6:28 to play before a 16-5 spurt over the next four minutes.
- Alec Peters was held scoreless in the first half (9 minutes, 3 fouls), but scored 23 second-half points (8-13 FG, 4-7 3PT).
- Keith Carter was a perfect 4-4 from 3-point range en route to a season-high 18 points.
- Valpo won despite allowing 10-20 3PT shooting from IPFW, the best performance by a opponent in a Crusader win since Dec. 31, 2011 (Green Bay, 12-24 3PT).
- The Crusaders went 13-25 from downtown, their most 3-point makes since going 15-26 in a win over UIC on Feb. 5, 2013.
...notes from Goshen
- Valpo started the game on a 17-0 run over the first 4:46 and never trailed in the win.
- Alec Peters scored 13 points in the opening run en route to a game-high 29 points, his third straight 20-point game.
- The Crusaders out-rebounded Goshen 48-29 in the win and shot 53.7% to the Maple Leafs’ 30.4%.
- Valpo posted a season-best 23 assists on its 29 made field goals.
- Vashil Fernandez set a new Crusader record with eight blocked shots as Valpo tallied ten rejections as a team.
- @ValpoBasketball opens up #HLMBB play Friday evening at Oakland.
- The Crusaders then kick off the league home slate on Sunday afternoon as they host Youngstown State.
...on the road
- The game against James Madison is the last of four true road games in the non-league slate for Valpo this season.
- The Crusaders are 2-1 in true road games so far this year, losing at Missouri and winning at Eastern Kentucky and IPFW.
- 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 9-20 in such games.
A Dozen Victories
- @ValpoBasketball was the nation’s third team to reach the 12-win mark this season, doing so on Dec. 21.
- The Crusaders are one of ten programs nationally with 12 or more victories as of the end of play on Saturday.
- This year’s Valpo team has reached the ten, 11 and 12-win marks earlier in the calendar than any other team in program history.
- The 2007-08 squad earned its tenth win on Dec. 15, the only other team in program history to hit the mark before Christmas.
- @ValpoBasketball is still enjoying one of its best starts since the move to Division I.
- The Crusaders are 12-2 through 12 games, just the second time since the move to D-I they have at least 12 wins in their first 14.
- The 1996-97 squad is the only D-I Valpo team to go deeper into the season before suffering its third loss, winning 14 of its first 16 games.
- Valpo won seven games in a row earlier this year to set its longest winning streak under Bryce Drew [won six in a row twice in 2012-13].
Peters - #HLMBB’s Best
- Sophomore Alec Peters received another weekly honor from the Horizon League office following last weekend’s action, as well as a third from College Sports Madness.
- Peters scored 52 points over the final three halves of play, including 23 in the second half of a come-from-behind win at IPFW.
- Peters is the first #HLMBB player to claim multiple weekly awards from the league office this season.
- Peters was named #HLMBB Player of the Week by CSM 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 (19.0 ppg) and 3-point pct. (.506), and ranks third in field goal pct. (541) and 3-pointers/game (2.9)
- Peters’ three 30-point games since the start of last season is the most over that stretch by any current #HLMBB player.
Vashil and His Block Party
- Senior Vashil Fernandez had a record-setting performance last time out vs. Goshen, tallying a Crusader single-game record eight blocked shots.
- That came less than 24 hours after Fernandez picked up six rejections in the win at IPFW.
- Fernandez now has four games with at least five blocks this year.
- Fernandez moved past Kikas Gomes (111) for third place on the Crusaders’ all-time blocked shots list last time out.
- Fernandez now has 117 career blocks, just ten shy of Zoran Viskovic for second in Valpo history.
- Led by Fernandez, the Crusaders are averaging 5.3 bpg this year, ahead of their record-setting 5.1 bpg pace from last season.
You’re Hot Then You’re Cold
- There’s been little in between for @ValpoBasketball from behind the 3-point line so far this season.
- Five times, the Crusaders have connected on better than 50% from deep, but five times, they have been below 30% from downtown.
- Overall, Valpo is hitting at a 38.5% clip from behind the arc, best among #HLMBB teams and among the top-50 nationally.
Hitting the Glass
- Valpo has out-rebounded opponents by double figures seven times on the year.
- By contrast, the Crusaders have only been outrebounded on two occasions - their only two losses of the year.
- Valpo leads #HLMBB in rebounding margin (+7.9) by more than five boards, and also paces the circuit in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
- Valpo’s offense has averaged at least a point per possession in all but two games this year - the Crusaders’ losses at Missouri and vs. New Mexico.
- Defensively, the Crusaders have surrendered less than a point per possession in every game but Eastern Kentucky and IPFW.
- Alec Peters ranks fifth nationally in Offensive Rating among players who use at least 24% of their team’s possessions.
- Peters also ranks among the top-30 nationally in both true shooting pct. and effective field goal pct.
- Vashil Fernandez currently sits sixth nationally in block percentage.
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.
- 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 469 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 954 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 earned his second #HLMBB Player of the Week award last Monday after scoring 52 points in the Crusaders’ last three halves of play.
- Peters scored 23 points in the second half at IPFW in the come-from-behind win and then posted 29 points against Goshen.
- Peters now has eight 20+ point games this season, including six of the last eight games.
- Peters registered his second career double-double with 23 points and ten rebounds in the win over Ball State.
- Peters matched his career high with seven 3-pointers, leading all scorers with 21 points and grabbing seven rebounds at EKU.
- Peters was named MVP of the Challenge in Music City and named #HLMBB Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
- 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 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 paced the Crusaders in scoring in eight of the season's final ten games.
- Fernandez blocked a Crusader single-game record eight shots last time out vs. Goshen, to go with six points and eight rebounds.
- Fernandez moved into third position on Valpo’s all-time blocks chart with the record-breaking effort.
- Fernandez tallied eight points, five rebounds and six blocks in the win at IPFW.
- Fernandez was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field for 12 points and six rebounds in the win at EKU.
- Fernandez was named to the All-Tournament Team at CMU.
- Fernandez was one off his then-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 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 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 tallied ten points, four rebounds and four assists last time out in the win over Goshen.
- Carter scored a season-best 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-4 3PT) and tallied four assists and four steals in the win at IPFW.
- Carter posted a line of six points, a career-high eight rebounds and five assists in the win over Ball State.
- Carter matched his career high with seven assists and scored nine second-half points in the win at EKU.
- 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 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, 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 scored nine points and grabbed a pair of rebounds in 19 minutes of action last time out in the win over Goshen.
- Chadwick posted four points and three rebounds in the win over TIU.
- 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 knocked down a triple and handed out two assists last time out in the win over Goshen.
- Davidson made his first career start against TIU, scoring four points.
- 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 tallied six rebounds and tied for team-high honors with four assists last time out in the win over Goshen.
- Nickerson scored five points and grabbed a team-best six rebounds in the win at IPFW.
- Nickerson scored nine points in 17 minutes off the bench in the win over Ball State.
- 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 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 scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and came up with four steals against Trinity International.
- 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 was a perfect 4-4 from the field, going for nine points, seven rebounds and four assists last time out in the win over Goshen.
- Skara made his first career start against Trinity International, tallying 11 points and four boards.
- Skara led all players with nine rebounds in 20 minutes of action in the win at EKU.
- 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 - he appeared in four games, recording ten points and five rebounds in a win over South Korea.
- Walker set a new season high, pacing the Crusaders with nine rebounds last time out vs. Goshen.
- Walker connected on four 3-pointers in a 14-point effort against Ball State.
- 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 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 combined for 18 points and eight assists in the pair of wins last weekend.
- Walker led the Crusaders with 15 points off the bench in the victory over Trinity International.
- Walker registered 15 points and four rebounds in the win at Eastern Kentucky.
- 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 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.