Valparaiso (16-3, 3-1 Horizon)
Game #20 - Saturday, January 17 - 6 p.m. CT
at Wright State (10-8, 2-2 Horizon)
Nutter Center (10,449) - Dayton, Ohio
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team kicks off a stretch of three straight road games Saturday night, returning after a week off to travel to Dayton to face Wright State. The Crusaders have won three consecutive league games.
Last Time Out: A battle in an atmosphere that felt like March between Valparaiso and Cleveland State Saturday night at the ARC went right down to the wire, with the Crusaders eventually pulling out a 58-56 win over the Vikings to improve to 3-1 in Horizon League play. Alec Peters led the way with 24 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Darien Walker added 10 points in the win, seven of which came in the second half.
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 - 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 (82-39) 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: Wright State owns a narrow 13-11 edge in the all-time series over Valpo, but the Crusaders have a 9-8 advantage since joining the Horizon League. However, in games played at Wright State, the Crusaders are just 4-8 all-time against the Raiders. WSU swept the season series from Valpo last season, downing the Crusaders 62-45 at the ARC and 67-58 in Dayton.
...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 Cleveland State
- The Crusaders improved to 3-0 this season in games decided by five points or less with the win over the Vikings.
- Neither team led by more than seven points.
- Alec Peters posted his ninth 20-plus point effort of the year, scoring 24 points and hit 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
- The Crusaders matched a season high with 19 turnovers, but allowed CSU just 11 points off those miscues.
- CSU shot just 36% for the game, the third straight game and 11th overall Valpo has held its opponent to sub-40% shooting.
- Valpo won despite scoring less than one point per possession for the first time this season.
- The Crusaders’ offensive efficiency (91.4) was its worst in a win since a 55-52 win at Milwaukee on Jan. 28, 2012.
- @ValpoBasketball returns home briefly before hitting the road again for a Tuesday night game at Youngstown State.
- The three-game road stretch concludes Friday evening with a nationally televised game from Green Bay.
...on the road
- @ValpoBasketball is 3-2 in true road games so far this year and 8-2 overall away from home.
- Valpo has flipped its luck away from home this year, after going just 5-9 on the road last season.
- Under Bryce Drew, Valpo owns a 17-9 record on the road in #HLMBB play.
- Wright State enters Saturday’s game at 10-8 overall and 2-2 in #HLMBB play after falling at home to Cleveland State on Wednesday.
- The Raiders own a 5-2 record at the Nutter Center this season.
- Junior JT Yoho leads Wright State, averaging 16.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
- Junior college transfer Joe Thomasson adds 10.6 ppg as well.
Up to 16 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 16 wins on the year with the win against Cleveland State last Saturday.
- Valpo was one of the first two teams in the nation (Gonzaga) to reach the 16-win mark.
- The Crusaders are one of just eight programs nationally with 16 victories as of the end of play on Wednesday.
- This year’s Valpo team has reached every win from 10 through 16 earlier in the calendar than any other team in program history.
- The 2007-08 squad earned its 10th win on Dec. 15, the only other team in program history to hit 10 wins before Christmas.
- This season marks the fourth time in Crusader history - and the first time in the program’s D-I era - that Valpo has been 16-3 or better through 19 games.
- Valpo last started 16-3 during the FDR administration, as the “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 was 16-3 en route to a 21-3 final record.
- The Crusaders won their first 19 games in 1923-24 en route to a 24-4 record, while the 1930-31 squad finished at 16-2.
- 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].
Hitting the Glass
- Valpo has out-rebounded opponents by double figures nine times on the year, doing so most recently 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.
- Last time out, the Crusaders held a +2 edge (31-29) on the glass over CSU, maintaining their #HLMBB best rebounding margin (+8.3).
- Valpo leads the league in rebounding margin by more than four boards, and also paces the circuit in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
Taking Care of the Ball
- Despite the 19 turnovers last time out, the Crusaders are enjoying one of their best seasons in recent history handling the basketball.
- Four times in the last eight games, Valpo has committed eight or fewer turnovers.
- After committing 16.2 turnovers/game over the season’s first five games, the Crusaders have committed just 11.3 turnovers/game since.
- Valpo ranks 79th 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 a pair of blocks last time out against CSU.
- Fernandez moved into second in Crusader history for career blocks with his fourth block against UIC and now has 130 career blocks.
- 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 58 blocks this season, already tied for fourth in a single season in program history with his own mark from last year.
- 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.
- Led by Fernandez, the Crusaders are averaging 5.1 bpg this year, right on their record-setting 5.1 bpg pace from last season.
- Valpo’s offense has averaged at least a point per possession in all but four games this year - the three losses, and the CSU win.
- Defensively, the Crusaders have surrendered less than a point per possession in all but three games.
- Alec Peters ranks fourth nationally in Offensive Rating among players who use at least 24% of their team’s possessions.
- 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 473 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 961 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 led all players with 24 points last time out vs. CSU, hitting 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the foul line.
- Peters now has nine 20+ point games this season, the most of any #HLMBB player.
- Peters narrowly missed a double-double 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 10 rebounds.
- Peters earned 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 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 set a new career high with 15 points (6-6 FG) while also tallying eight rebounds and four blocks vs. UIC.
- Fernandez moved into second position on Valpo’s all-time blocks chart with his fourth block against the Flames.
- Fernandez grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds and also tallied eight points and three blocks versus YSU.
- Fernandez blocked a Crusader single-game record eight shots against Goshen.
- 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 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 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, 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 four boards last time out in the victory over Cleveland State.
- Adekoya scored a season-high 10 points (4-5 FG) and matched his career best with nine rebounds in the win over UIC.
- 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 scored four points and handed out an assist in 11 minutes last time out against UIC.
- 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 has started each of the last two games for the Crusaders.
- 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 tallied three rebounds and three assists last time out in the win over Cleveland State.
- Joseph played a career-high 26 minutes in the win over UIC, scoring nine points (3-3 FG) and handing out three assists.
- 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 scored 10 points in 18 minutes in the win vs. Murray State.
- Skara scored 10 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 scored 13 points (5-9 FG) and added four rebounds in the win vs. UIC.
- Walker went 7-of-8 from the foul line in a 12-point, eight-rebound effort 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.
- 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 scored in double figures for the ninth time this year against UIC, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
- 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.
- 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.