#rv/rv Valparaiso (22-4, 9-2 Horizon)
Game #27 - Friday, February 13 - 6 p.m.
Green Bay (20-5, 9-2 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team looks to maintain its grip on first place in the Horizon League standings as it hosts Green Bay at the ARC Friday night in a nationally-televised contest. The Crusaders are looking to avenge their second league loss after defeating Oakland last time out.
Last Time Out: Another chapter in the Valparaiso-Oakland series went down to the wire Sunday afternoon at the ARC, but this time, with more on the line than perhaps any other regular season meeting in the series history for both sides, it was the Crusaders who came out on top, out-scoring the Golden Grizzlies 8-2 over a stretch of 3:30 late to pull away and eventually earn an 82-76 victory. Six Valpo players finished in double figures, led by a season-best 16 points from E. Victor Nickerson.
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 - ESPN2 - Mike Crispino (PxP) and Sean Harrington (Color)
Links for live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (88-40) 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: Green Bay leads the all-time series over Valpo, 28-20, and holds a slim 9-8 edge in the series since the Crusaders joined the Horizon League. The Phoenix earned the win in a tight defensive battle in Green Bay earlier this season, 51-50. At the ARC, Valpo is 14-9 all-time against Green Bay and is 6-3 at home against the Phoenix since joining the Horizon League, winning the last four home games.
...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 Oakland
- This was the 10th straight meeting that was decided by six or fewer points in regulation.
- The Crusaders placed six players in double figures against a Division I opponent for the first time in over a decade.
- Valpo shot 57.7% from the floor, its third-best single-game field goal percentage of the season.
- Oakland shot 44.3% from the field, just the third time in league play a Crusader opponent has been above 40%.
- E. Victor Nickerson scored a season-best 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the win.
- David Skara matched his best performance against a Division I opponent with 14 points.
- Alec Peters scored 11 points despite attempting just four field goals, matching his career low for field goal attempts.
- @ValpoBasketball has a quick turnaround following Friday night’s game, as the Crusaders travel to Milwaukee to play on Sunday afternoon.
- Valpo then hosts Wright State next Saturday, Feb. 21, in the Crusaders’ regular season home finale.
...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 11-1 at home this year following the win over Oakland.
- Valpo has won at least 10 home games in each of the last five years.
- Over the last 20+ years, @ValpoBasketball owns a 246-57 (.812) record on its home court.
- The Crusaders are 25-6 in home #HLMBB games under Bryce Drew.
- Green Bay enters Friday night’s contest at 20-5 overall and 9-2 in #HLMBB play after a narrow 63-62 win at YSU on Wednesday.
- The Phoenix is 5-4 in true road games this season, including 4-2 in league action.
- Senior Keifer Sykes leads Green Bay, averaging 18.0 points and 4.0 assists per game.
Hitting 22 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 22 wins on the year with the win over Oakland on Sunday.
- The Crusaders were the fourth team nationally to reach 22 wins (Gonzaga, Kentucky, UNI) and are one of nine teams with at least 22 wins as of the end of play Wednesday.
- 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 22-4 or better through 26 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 second straight week, @ValpoBasketball is receiving votes in both national top-25 polls (Associated Press/Coaches).
- The Crusaders are receiving seven points in the coaches poll, their highest tally of the season.
- The Crusaders previously earned votes in both polls in separate weeks earlier this week, including four points in the Jan. 19 coaches poll.
- Valpo sits at 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 in the win 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 Oakland by two 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 +8.2, good for 13th 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.
- Despite giving up 70+ points in the last two games, the Crusaders have ranked as one of the top defensive teams in the nation.
- Valpo held eight straight opponents to 65 or fewer points, and 3 straight teams to 56 points, the first time it has won 3 straight games and given up 56 or fewer points in all three since Dec. 7-17, 1983.
- Valpo ranks 51st nationally in scoring defense and 19th in field goal percentage defense.
- Valpo boasts a defensive efficiency of 94.5, 51st-best nationally - the Crusaders haven’t ranked in the top-100 since 2006-07.
- Crusader opponents are shooting just 42.2% from 2-point range (20th nationally) and are pulling down just 26.5% of available offensive boards (23rd 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 Friday’s game with 882 points and would need to average 19.7 ppg over the Crusaders’ guaranteed six 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’ .467 3-point percentage this year would rank fifth in a single season in program history and ranks sixth nationally.
- Senior Vashil Fernandez has cemented himself among the top shot-blockers in Crusader history this season.
- At UIC, Fernandez broke Valpo’s single-season blocks record - after two blocks Sunday, he currently has 78 blocked shots this year.
- For his career, Fernandez now has 150 rejections, second-most in Crusader history.
- Fernandez leads the league and tied for eighth nationally with 3.0 blocks/game, while he ranks ninth nationally in block pct. (13.0%).
- Fernandez’s blocks/40 minutes has risen from 3.5 last year to 4.8 this year, while his fouls/40 has fallen from 6.2 to 4.4.
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 479 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 972 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.