#rv/rv Valparaiso (23-4, 10-2 Horizon)
Game #28 - Sunday, February 15 - 1 p.m.
at Milwaukee (10-15, 5-6 Horizon)
UWM Panther Arena (10,783) - Milwaukee, Wis.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Sitting alone in first place with just four games left in the regular season, the Valparaiso men’s basketball team has a quick turnaround to a Sunday afternoon game, as the Crusaders travel to Milwaukee for a 1 p.m. tip. Valpo enters the game on a five-game winning streak, its fourth winning streak of at least five games this year.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team moved into first place by itself atop the Horizon League standings Friday night, as the Crusaders led by as many as 15 points in the second half and held off Green Bay down the stretch to earn a 63-59 victory over the Phoenix in front of a packed house and a national television audience. Tevonn Walker led Valpo with a game-high 20 points, while Alec Peters posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds - all 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 David Huseman (Color)
Video - ESPN3.com
Links for live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (89-40) 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: Valpo owns a 17-12 edge in the all-time series over Milwaukee, including an 10-7 record since joining the Horizon League. The series, which traditionally has been tightly contested, has seen the last six games all decided by at least 13 points - the Crusaders have won five of those six contests. Earlier this season, Valpo jumped out to a 30-5 lead 14 minutes into the game and cruised to a 73-48 win over the Panthers. The Crusaders were led in that game by 24 points (10-14 FG) from Alec Peters.
...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 Green Bay
- Valpo won its fifth straight home game over the Phoenix on Friday night.
- Tevonn Walker led the way for the Crusaders with 20 points, his second-highest scoring output of the season.
- Alec Peters tallied a double-double in the second half alone (12 points, 10 rebounds) after posting zeros in both categories in the first half.
- The Crusaders led by as many as 15 points in the second half and were up 11 with 3:13 to play before seeing the lead cut to two late.
- Valpo limited Green Bay to 32.7% shooting, the Crusaders’ best defensive field goal percentage in league play.
- Valpo went just 4-of-7 from the 3-point line, matching its fewest 3-point attempts since tossing up six 3-point tries in a loss to Duke on Dec. 4, 2004.
- @ValpoBasketball hosts Wright State on Saturday, Feb. 21, in the Crusaders’ regular season home finale.
- The Crusaders close out the regular season with a pair of road games next week at Detroit and at Cleveland State.
...on the road
- @ValpoBasketball is 6-3 in true road games so far this year and 11-3 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 20-10 record on the road in #HLMBB play.
- Milwaukee enters Sunday’s game at 10-15 overall and 5-6 in #HLMBB play after beating Oakland last Monday, 84-67.
- The Panthers are 9-3 overall at home this season and have won five consecutive league home games.
- Senior guard Steve McWhorter leads UWM, averaging 14 points and 4.3 assists per game.
- Junior forward Matt Tiby adds 12.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as well.
Ain’t No Lie, Bye Bye Bye
- The win over the Phoenix on Friday guaranteed @ValpoBasketball no worse than a tie for fourth place in the final #HLMBB standings.
- Holding a win over Green Bay means Valpo would have the tiebreak advantage over Milwaukee, ensuring the Crusaders a first-round bye in the #HLMBB Championship.
- This marks the third time since joining the Horizon League Valpo has earned at least a single bye in the league tournament.
- Valpo is now guaranteed to at least match its preseason projection for the fifth straight year.
Hitting 23 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 23 wins on the year with the win over Green Bay on Friday.
- The Crusaders were the fourth team nationally to reach the 23-win mark, joining Gonzaga, Kentucky and 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 second time in Crusader history - and the first time in the program’s D-I era - that Valpo had been 23-4 or better through 27 games.
- The Crusaders won their first 19 games in 1923-24 en route to a 24-4 record
- The “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 ended the year 23-3, 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 12 times on the year, including a +15 edge on Friday in the win over Green Bay.
- 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 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 11th 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 enjoyed another stellar defensive performance on Friday, limiting Green Bay to just 59 points on 32.7% shooting.
- Earlier this year, Valpo held eight straight opponents to 65 or fewer points, including 3 straight 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 47th nationally in scoring defense and 15th in field goal percentage defense.
- Valpo boasts a defensive efficiency of 94.2, 49th-best nationally - the Crusaders haven’t ranked in the top-100 since 2006-07.
- Crusader opponents are shooting just 41.8% from 2-point range (12th nationally) and are pulling down just 26.6% of available offensive boards (23rd 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 three blocks Friday, he currently has 81 blocked shots this year.
- For his career, Fernandez now has 153 rejections, second-most in Crusader history.
- Fernandez leads the league and sits eighth nationally with 3.0 blocks/game, while he ranks seventh nationally in block pct. (13.2%).
- 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 4.6.
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 480 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 973 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.