Valparaiso (14-3, 1-1 Horizon)
Game #18 - Thursday, January 8 - 7:05 p.m.
UIC (5-12, 1-1 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: A key early three-game homestand in the Horizon League schedule continues on Thursday evening as Valparaiso hosts UIC at the ARC. The Crusaders are looking for their 12th straight victory in the series against the Flames.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team earned its first win in Horizon League play on Sunday afternoon at the ARC, locking down on defense over the final eight minutes and using one of its top rebounding performances in recent history to take down Youngstown State, 79-64. The Crusaders did not give up a field goal after the 8:13 mark and grabbed 27 offensive rebounds, the most by a Valpo team in at least 25 seasons.
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 David Huseman (Color)
Video - Horizon League Network/ESPN3.com
Links for the audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (80-39) 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: UIC leads the all-time series against the Crusaders, 29-21, but Valpo owns a 12-3 advantage in the series since joining the Horizon League. In fact, the Crusaders have won 11 consecutive meetings with the Flames and haven’t lost to UIC since February of 2009. Last season, Valpo earned a trio of wins over the Flames - an 87-72 victory at the ARC in regular season play, a 70-46 win in Chicago and a 73-63 win in Valpo in the opening round of the Horizon League Championship. Alec Peters averaged 14.7 ppg in the three wins, including a 29-point effort in the tournament game.
...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 YSU
- Valpo never trailed in the win, its sixth victory of the year leading all the way.
- The Crusaders held YSU without a field goal over the game’s final eight minutes.
- Valpo shot just 35.1% in the win, its worst shooting performance in a win since a 55-52 win over UWM on Jan. 27, 2012 (also 35.1%).
- The Crusaders grabbed 27 offensive rebounds against the Penguins, their highest total on the offensive glass in at least 25 years.
- Valpo finished with 58 total rebounds, its highest single-game performance since February of 1997.
- Valpo converted the offensive boards into 28 second-chance points, its best output in the category since November of 2010.
- Keith Carter picked up his first career double-double in the winning effort, posting 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
- @ValpoBasketball finished up its three-game league homestand Saturday evening as it hosts Cleveland State.
- The Crusaders then have a week off before kicking off a three-game road trip at Wright State the following Saturday.
...at the ARC
- @ValpoBasketball has 14 regular season home games scheduled for the ARC in 2014-15. #ValpoGameday
- The Crusaders posted a 12-6 mark at the ARC last season, and are now 6-1 at home this year following the win over YSU.
- Over the last 20+ years, @ValpoBasketball owns a 241-57 (.809) record on its home court.
- The Crusaders are 20-6 in home #HLMBB games under Bryce Drew.
- UIC enters Thursday’s game at 5-12 overall and 1-1 in #HLMBB play, following a five-point loss at home to Cleveland State on Sunday.
- The Flames are 0-8 away from home so far this season, including an 0-6 mark in true road games.
- Former Crusader Jay Harris leads UIC, averaging 14.2 points per game and hitting at a 92.5% clip from the free throw line.
- Jake Wiegand adds 12.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for the Flames.
Up to 14 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 14 wins on the year with the win against Youngstown State on Sunday.
- The Crusaders are one of nine programs nationally with 14 or more victories as of the end of play on Tuesday.
- This year’s Valpo team has reached every win from 10 through 14 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 ten wins before Christmas.
- @ValpoBasketball is still enjoying one of its best starts since the move to Division I.
- The Crusaders are 14-3 through 17 games, just the second time since the move to D-I they have 14 wins in their first 17 games.
- The 1996-97 squad was 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].
- The Crusaders have not lost back-to-back games this season, rebounding from the loss at Oakland to beat YSU last time out.
- The loss to Oakland marked just the second time in the last five years that @ValpoBasketball has lost its #HLMBB opener.
- Valpo has never started #HLMBB play 0-2.
- The Crusaders’ other opening loss in the last five years came against Loyola to kick off the 2012-13 league slate.
- Valpo won its next six after that loss, finishing 13-3 and winning the #HLMBB regular season that year.
Hitting the Glass
- Valpo has out-rebounded opponents by double figures nine times on the year, doing so last time out against YSU (58-38).
- The +20 margin was the Crusaders’ best against a D-I opponent since a +22 advantage on the glass last year against Saint Louis.
- By contrast, the Crusaders have only been outrebounded on two occasions - losses to New Mexico and Missouri.
- Valpo leads #HLMBB in rebounding margin (+8.6) by more than five boards, and also paces the circuit in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
Taking Care of the Ball
- The Crusaders are enjoying one of their best seasons in recent history handling the basketball and not turning it over.
- Last time out versus YSU, Valpo committed just four turnovers - its fourth game this season with six or fewer turnovers.
- After committing 16.2 turnovers/game over the season’s first five games, the Crusaders have committed just 10.9 turnovers/game since.
- Valpo ranks 61st nationally in turnover percentage this year after ranking tenth from last in the nation in the category last season.
Vashil and His Block Party
- Senior Vashil Fernandez continued his strong season defensively last time out with three blocks in the win over YSU.
- Fernandez tallied a Crusader single-game record eight blocked shots earlier this season against Goshen.
- Fernandez is averaging 3.1 blocks/game this year, leading the Horizon League and ranking 12th nationally.
- Fernandez has totaled 52 blocks this season, already eighth in a single season in program history.
- Fernandez has seen his blocks per 40 minutes rise from 3.5 last year to 5.3 this year, while his fouls per 40 has dropped from 6.2 to 4.4.
- Fernandez now has 124 career blocks, just three shy of Zoran Viskovic for second in Valpo history.
- Led by Fernandez, the Crusaders are averaging 5.2 bpg this year, ahead of their record-setting 5.1 bpg pace from last season.
- Valpo’s offense has averaged at least a point per possession in all but three games this year - all three of which were losses.
- Defensively, the Crusaders have surrendered less than a point per possession in all but three games.
- Alec Peters ranks ninth nationally in Offensive Rating among players who use at least 24% of their team’s possessions.
- Vashil Fernandez currently sits ninth 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 471 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 957 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 narrowly missed a double-double last time out against YSU, scoring a team-best 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
- Peters posted his third career double-double at JMU, going for 19 points and ten rebounds.
- Peters eanred his second #HLMBB Player of the Week award Dec. 22 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.
- 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.
- Fernandez grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds and also tallied eight points and three blocks last time out versus YSU.
- Fernandez blocked a Crusader single-game record eight shots against Goshen.
- 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 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 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 picked up his first career double-double, registering 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Youngstown State.
- Carter matched a season best with 18 points at Oakland, including a game-tying triple with 9.9 seconds left to force overtime.
- Carter scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists in the win at JMU.
- Carter has handed out at least four assists on 11 occasions this year, including eight of the last 10 games.
- 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 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 four points and grabbed four rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench last time out against Youngstown State.
- Adekoya was a perfect 3-3 from the field for seven points, nine rebounds and four assists at Oakland.
- 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 set a new personal best against a D-I team, scoring eight points in the win at JMU in 11 minutes.
- Chadwick scored nine points and grabbed a pair of rebounds in 19 minutes of action in the win over Goshen.
- 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 set a new career high with eight points in the win at JMU, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers.
- Davidson knocked down a triple and handed out two assists 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 scored nine points in the wins over James Madison and Youngstown State.
- Nickerson tallied six rebounds and tied for team-high honors with four assists in the win over Goshen.
- 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 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 went 7-of-8 from the foul line in the closing minutes in a 12-point, eight-rebound effort last time out in the win over YSU.
- Walker registered a game-high and new career-best seven assists in the win at JMU.
- Walker set a new season high, pacing the Crusaders with nine rebounds against 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 was named #HLMBB Freshman of the Week on Jan. 5.
- Walker set a new career high at Oakland, scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting - his third straight double-figure game.
- Walker reached double figures at JMU, finishing with 12 points in just 22 minutes.
- 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.