#rv/rv Valparaiso (21-4, 8-2 Horizon)
Game #26 - Sunday, February 8 - 2 p.m.
Oakland (12-12, 7-2 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team continues a three-game homestand, facing off against one of the teams tied with the Crusaders in the loss column in the league standings as Oakland comes to town. Valpo has won eight in a row at home, including all five home Horizon League games.
Last Time Out: Trailing by four points early in the second half, the Valparaiso men’s basketball team went on an 11-0 run to re-take the lead for good, eventually downing Detroit 78-70 Wednesday night at the ARC. Darien Walker had eight points during the run and scored a career-high 21 in the win, while Tevonn Walker added 19 points.
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)
Television - American Sports Network (nationwide coverage - locally on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus) - Scott Warmann (PxP) and Kevin Lehman (Color)
Links for live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (87-40) 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: A rival dating back to the Mid-Continent Conference days, Valpo holds an 18-7 advantage in the all-time series against Oakland. The Crusaders won the first 16 meetings between the two teams, but the Grizzlies have won seven of the last nine games. The last nine meetings have seen the two teams separated by six points or fewer in regulation. Earlier this season, Keith Carter hit a 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds to play in regulation to force overtime at the O’Rena, but Oakland went on to down the Crusaders 89-75 in the extra session.
...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 Detroit
- Trailing by four points with 14:27 to play, the Crusaders went on an 11-0 run to take the lead for good.
- Darien Walker scored eight points during the run and ended the game with a career-high 21 points.
- Tevonn Walker posted his second-best scoring output of the season, pouring in 19 points.
- Alec Peters picked up his third double-double of the year, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Crusaders shot 56.5% from the floor in the win, their third-best single-game field goal percentage of the year.
- Valpo was 15-of-21 from the field in the second half and hit its last eight field goal attempts.
- @ValpoBasketball closes out a three-game homestand on Friday night, live on ESPN2 against Green Bay at 6 p.m.
- The Crusaders will then have a quick turnaround to a Sunday afternoon matchup at Milwaukee.
...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 10-1 at home this year following the win over Milwaukee.
- Valpo has won at least 10 home games in each of the last five years.
- Over the last 20+ years, @ValpoBasketball owns a 245-57 (.811) record on its home court.
- The Crusaders are 24-6 in home #HLMBB games under Bryce Drew.
- Oakland enters Sunday’s game at 12-12 overall and 7-2 in #HLMBB play, most recently winning at UIC, 91-77
- The Golden Grizzlies are just 3-9 on the road this year, but have won their last two league road games.
- Sophomore Kahlil Felder leads Oakland with 17.0 ppg and ranks among the nation’s leaders with 7.5 apg.
- Fifth-year senior Corey Petros adds 14.5 ppg on 60.6% shooting, although in five career games against the Crusaders, he has been limited to 8.6 ppg on 32% shooting.
Hitting 21 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 21 wins on the year with the win over Detroit on Wednesday.
- The Crusaders were the fifth team nationally to reach 21 wins (Gonzaga, Kentucky, Notre Dame, UNI).
- The Crusaders earned their 20th win at UIC on Jan. 31 - they had previously never reached their 20th win before Feb. 12 (2012-13).
- Valpo has now won at least 20 games 14 times in the last 22 years, including three times in four seasons under Bryce Drew.
- This season marks the third time in Crusader history - and the first time in the program’s D-I era - that Valpo had been 21-4 or better through 24 games.
- Most recently it occured during the FDR administration, as the “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 ended the year 23-3.
- 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.
- 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].
- For the first time this season, @ValpoBasketball is receiving votes in both national top-25 polls (Associated Press/Coaches).
- The Crusaders previously earned votes in both polls in separate weeks earlier this week, including four points in the Jan. 19 coaches poll.
- Valpo moved up to sixth in the Mid-Major Top-25 Poll and has been within the top-10 almost the entire year, reaching as high as fourth.
Hitting the Glass
- Valpo has out-rebounded opponents by double figures 11 times on the year, including a +19 edge last Saturday at UIC.
- The Crusaders outrebounded Wright State by 21 earlier this year - best vs. a D-I opponent since a +22 advantage on the glass last year vs. Saint Louis.
- Valpo out-rebounded Detroit by one more recently, and has only been outrebounded on two occasions this year - losses to New Mexico and Missouri.
- The Crusaders’ league-leading rebounding margin sits at +8.4, good for eighth in the nation.
- Valpo leads the league in rebounding margin by more than five boards, and also paces the circuit in both offensive and defensive rebounding pct.
- The Crusaders gave up 70 points the last time out, the first time they’ve surrendered more than 65 points in their last nine games.
- Valpo held three straight teams to 56 points, the first time it has won three straight games and given up 56 or fewer points in all three since Dec. 7-17, 1983.
- Valpo ranks 39th nationally in scoring defense and 15th in field goal percentage defense.
- Valpo boasts a defensive efficiency of 93.5, 38th-best nationally - the Crusaders haven’t ranked in the top-100 since 2006-07.
- Crusader opponents are shooting just 42.0% from 2-point range (15th nationally) and are pulling down just 25.8% of available offensive boards (17th nationally).
On Pace for 1,000
- Sophomore Alec Peters is near pace to become the first sophomore in Crusader history to reach the 1,000 point milestone.
- Peters enters Sunday’s game with 871 points and would need to average 18.4 ppg over the Crusaders’ guaranteed seven remaining games to hit 1,000.
- For comparison, Bryce Drew had 912 points through his first two seasons in a Valpo uniform.
- Peters has scored 20+ points 10 times already this season, tied for the most among #HLMBB players.
- Peters’ .463 3-point percentage this year would rank fifth in a single season in program history and ranks seventh nationally.
- Senior Vashil Fernandez has cemented himself among the top shot-blockers in Crusader history this season.
- At UIC last Saturday, Fernandez broke Valpo’s single-season blocks record - after three blocks Wednesday, he currently has 76 blocked shots this year.
- For his career, Fernandez now has 148 rejections, second-most in Crusader history.
- Fernandez leads the league and ranks eighth nationally with 3.0 blocks/game, while he ranks fifth nationally in block pct. (13.5%).
- Fernandez’s blocks/40 minutes has risen from 3.5 last year to 4.9 this year, while his fouls/40 has fallen from 6.2 to 4.5.
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 27 years. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- The Drew family has combined to lead @ValpoBasketball to 478 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 970 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.