#rv/rv Valparaiso (25-5, 12-3 Horizon)
Game #31 - Friday, February 27 - 9 p.m. CT
at Cleveland State (17-12, 11-4 Horizon)
Wolstein Center (8,500) - Cleveland, Ohio
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The regular season all comes down to one game for the Valparaiso men’s basketball team, as the Crusaders head into Cleveland State Friday night needing a win to secure the outright league regular season title and hosting duties for the 2015 Horizon League Championship.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders saw their first chance to claim the outright Horizon League regular season title slip by the wayside Wednesday evening in Detroit, Mich., as the Titans’ Juwan Howard Jr. hit three free throws with 1.3 seconds to play to send Valpo to a 63-60 defeat. Darien Walker scored 21 points to lead Valpo, while Alec Peters added 13 points and 11 rebounds, but the Crusaders shot just 34.8% from the field and scored just 10 points in the paint.
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)
Television - ESPNU - Chris Cotter (PxP) and Steve Donahue (Color)
Links for live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (91-41) 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: Cleveland State holds a 30-14 advantage in the all-time series over Valpo, including a 9-7 edge over the Crusaders since they joined the Horizon League. Valpo did win the first meeting earlier this year, edging out the Vikings at the ARC 58-56 behind a 24-point effort from Alec Peters. The Crusaders are just 2-5 at the Wolstein Center since joining the league, but both of those wins have come in the last three years.
...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 Detroit
- The Crusaders shot just 34.8% from the field in the loss, their worst performance since hitting 34.5% in a loss at Green Bay.
- Valpo scored a season-worst 10 points in the paint - the Crusaders hadn’t scored fewer than 20 in the paint since Dec. 6 vs. New Mexico.
- In fact, the 10 points in the paint was the fewest a Crusader team has scored under Bryce Drew.
- Darien Walker scored 21 points to match a season high, previously done in the home game against Detroit.
- Alec Peters picked up his fourth double-double in the last six games (13 points, 11 rebounds), but shot just 3-of-11 from the floor.
- The Crusaders limited Detroit’s top two scorers (Howard, Bass) to 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
- But Valpo gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the Titans, the second-most the Crusaders have allowed this season.
- The 2015 Horizon League Championship will open for the Crusaders either next Friday or Saturday.
...on the road
- @ValpoBasketball is 7-4 in true road games so far this year and 12-4 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 21-11 record on the road in #HLMBB play.
- Cleveland State enters Friday night’s game at 17-12 overall and 11-4 in #HLMBB play, most recently falling at Milwaukee, 66-60, last Sunday.
- The Vikings are 12-2 at home this year, including a perfect 7-0 mark in league play.
- Redshirt junior Trey Lewis paces CSU, averaging 17.1 points per game and hitting at a 43.8% clip from 3-point range.
- Fellow redshirt junior Anton Grady leads the Vikings’ post play, averaging 14.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
It Comes Down to This
- @ValpoBasketball enters the final game of the regular season having already clinched a share of the league title.
- The Crusaders have now won three regular season titles in Bryce Drew’s four years at the helm.
- A win would give the Crusaders the outright title and hosting duties for the #HLMBB Championship.
- A loss means that Valpo, while still earning a share of the title, would fall to either the 2nd or 3rd seed for the league tournament.
Three in Four Years
- Valpo’s stretch of three regular season titles in four years puts the Crusaders among the top spans of results in #HLMBB history.
- Xavier won six regular season championships in an eight-year stretch (1987-88; 89-90; 90-91; 92-93; 93-94; 94-95).
- Butler won four straight regular season titles (1999-2003) and then had another five-year string of championships (2006-2011).
- Milwaukee also won three straight #HLMBB regular season titles, from 2003-04 through 2005-06.
Hitting 25 Wins
- @ValpoBasketball reached 25 wins on the year with the win over Wright State on Saturday.
- The Crusaders were the sixth team nationally to reach the 25-win mark and were one of nine with 25+ 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 year’s team is one of just three in program history that has won at least 25 games.
- 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.
- Valpo is in contention for the outright #HLMBB title despite being an underclassman-laden squad.
- The Crusaders have just one senior in their regular rotation and have five underclassmen among their nine players averaging 10+ minutes.
- Valpo ranks 266th nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s Experience metric, with only Kentucky and Duke ranking lower among teams with 25+ wins.
- For the fourth straight week, @ValpoBasketball is receiving votes in both national top-25 polls (Associated Press/Coaches).
- The Crusaders are receiving 10 points in the AP poll and 16 points in the coaches poll, a season high in both rankings.
- Valpo sits at fifth 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 13 times on the year, including a +12 edge last time out in the win over WSU.
- 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 +8.1, 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.
- The Crusaders have held 12 of 15 opponents to 65 or fewer points in #HLMBB play.
- Earlier this year, Valpo held three straight foes to 56 points, the first time it won 3 straight games and gave up 56 or fewer points in all three since Dec. 7-17, 1983.
- Valpo ranks 33rd nationally in scoring defense and 16th in field goal percentage defense.
- Valpo boasts a defensive efficiency of 94.3, 42nd-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 (14th nationally) and are pulling down just 26.9% of available offensive boards (28th nationally).
What’s Back and Who’s New
- @ValpoBasketball returns just seven letterwinners from its 2013-14 team, returning 48.3% of scoring and 56.8% of rebounding.
- Nearly half of the Crusader 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 482 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 978 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.