#rv/rv Valparaiso (24-4, 11-2 Horizon)
Game #29 - Saturday, February 21 - 7:05 p.m.
Wright State (11-16, 3-10 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team concludes the regular season home slate Saturday evening as it looks to remain atop the Horizon League standings, hosting Wright State on Senior Night.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team shrugged off the fact it faced its first halftime deficit in six weeks Sunday afternoon at Milwaukee, shooting 65.2% in the second half to rally from the five-point margin at the break and down the Panthers 62-55. The win was the sixth straight for the Crusaders and snapped Milwaukee’s five-game home winning streak. Darien Walker led the way with 18 points, while Alec Peters added 15 points and eight rebounds.
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 (90-40) 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: Wright State owns a narrow 13-12 edge in the all-time series over Valpo, but the Crusaders have a 10-8 advantage since joining the Horizon League. At the ARC, Valpo is 6-5 all-time against the Raiders, including wins in four of the last five meetings. Earlier this season, the Crusaders earned a 66-56 victory at Wright State as four players finished in double figures, led by 14 points and nine rebounds from Vashil Fernandez.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- @ValpoBasketball was 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 Milwaukee
- Valpo trailed at the half for the first time since its Jan. 2 game at Oakland, snapping a string of 11 straight leads at intermission.
- The Crusaders rallied from a halftime deficit for a victory for the third time this season.
- Valpo snapped a five-game home winning streak for the Panthers.
- The Crusaders shot 65.2% in the second half and held Milwaukee to just 33.3% shooting in the final 20 minutes.
- Darien Walker led Valpo with a game-high 18 points, the second time in the last four games and the third time this year he has led the way.
- Alec Peters scored 15 points and led the Crusaders with eight rebounds, the fourth straight game Peters has paced Valpo on the glass.
- @ValpoBasketball closes out the regular season with a two-game road trip next week, kicking off Wednesday evening at Detroit.
- The regular season concludes for the Crusaders Friday night on ESPNU at Cleveland State, a 9 p.m. CT tip.
...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 12-1 at home this year following the win over Green Bay.
- Valpo has won at least 10 home games in each of the last five years.
- Over the last 20+ years, @ValpoBasketball owns a 247-57 (.813) record on its home court.
- The Crusaders are 26-6 in home #HLMBB games under Bryce Drew.
- Wright State enters Saturday’s game at 11-16 overall and 3-10 in #HLMBB play following a 76-67 loss to Oakland on Wednesday.
- The Raiders have dropped six straight league games since a win at Detroit on January 26.
- Facing a myriad of injuries, only three players have played in every game this season for the Raiders.
- Over Wright State’s last four games, freshman guard Grant Benzinger is leading the way, averaging 22.3 ppg on 50.8% shooting.
Fight For the Title
- @ValpoBasketball enters the final three games of the regular season with a one-game lead over Green Bay and Cleveland State.
- The Crusaders are looking for their third regular season title in the last four years.
- Two wins over their final three games would assure the Crusaders of no worse than a second-place finish.
- Valpo can finish no worse than fourth place, meaning it will at least match its preseason projection for the fifth straight season.
Hitting 24 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 24 wins on the year with the win at Milwaukee on Sunday.
- The Crusaders were the fourth team nationally to reach the 24-win mark, joining Gonzaga, Kentucky and UNI, and are one of eight currently with 24+ wins.
- 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 year’s team is one of six in program history that has won at least 24 games.
- The 1923-24 team finished at 24-4, while the 1996-97 and 2000-01 squads went 24-7 and 24-8, respectively.
- Valpo finished 25-8 in the 2001-02 season and set a school record with a 26-8 mark in 2012-13.
- The “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 ended the year 23-3, while the 1930-31 squad finished at 16-2.
- For the third straight week, @ValpoBasketball is receiving votes in both national top-25 polls (Associated Press/Coaches).
- The Crusaders are receiving eight points in both polls, a season high in both rankings.
- 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 fifth.
- A pair of Crusaders earned weekly awards last week as Valpo took solo possession of the top spot in the Horizon League standings.
- Tevonn Walker was named #HLMBB Freshman of the Week for a second time and was also tabbed Lou Henson Award National Player of the Week.
- Darien Walker took home league Player of the Week accolades from College Sports Madness as well.
Hitting the Glass
- Valpo has out-rebounded opponents by double figures 12 times on the year, including a +15 edge last 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 +8.3, 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 Sunday, limiting Milwaukee to just 55 points on 40.4% 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 44th nationally in scoring defense and 15th in field goal percentage defense.
- Valpo boasts a defensive efficiency of 93.6, 36th-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 (11th nationally) and are pulling down just 26.4% of available offensive boards (22nd nationally).
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 481 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 975 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.