Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #1 - Friday, November 13 - 7:30 p.m.
IPFW (0-0, 0-0 Summit)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: A loaded Valparaiso men’s basketball squad opens the 2015-16 season on Friday night as it hosts IPFW at 7:30 p.m. Prior to the game, the Crusaders will unveil their 2014-15 Horizon League championship and NCAA Tournament banners and raise them to the rafters.
Last Time Out: In their lone exhibition game, the Crusaders, led by 34 points from junior Alec Peters, led start-to-finish in defeating Indianapolis – which is ranked #8 in the nation in Division II – by a 75-67 final in exhibition action Nov. 3 at the ARC.
Following the Crusaders: Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Color)
Video - ESPN3.com
Links for the audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (94-42) enters his fifth season at the helm of the Crusader men’s basketball program in 2015-16. In his first four years, Drew has led Valpo to three Horizon League regular season titles, two Horizon League tournament championships and four postseason berths, including a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2012 and 2015 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 leads the all-time series with IPFW, 10-3, including a 75-72 win in Fort Wayne last season. Trailing by nine at the half, the Crusaders rallied to out-score the Mastodons by 12 in the second half. Plagued by foul trouble and held scoreless in the first half, Alec Peters scored 23 second-half points to lead the comeback.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo has been picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 36 of the 43 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last five years.
- Junior Alec Peters was named to the preseason First Team All-League for a second straight season.
- Seniors Vashil Fernandez and Darien Walker and sophomore Tevonn Walker all earned spots on the preseason Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo won a program-record 28 games en route to the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles.
- The Crusaders advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time since 1996 and the 14th time overall.
- Valpo has won two of the last three Horizon League Championships and three of the last four HL regular season titles.
- The Crusaders are one of just four programs in league history to capture at least three regular season titles in a four-year span.
- Bryce Drew was named Horizon League Coach of the Year for the second time, as well as NABC District Coach of the Year.
- Alec Peters was a First Team All-League selection and an NABC First Team All-District choice.
- Vashil Fernandez was named HL Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the All-Defensive Team.
- Jubril Adekoya claimed Sixth Man of the Year honors, while Tevonn Walker earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team.
...in the exhibition
- Valpo won its lone exhibition game, downing a UIndy squad ranked as high as #8 in the D-II preseason polls, 75-67.
- Alec Peters led the way with 34 points and was the only Crusader in double figures.
- Valpo led start-to-finish, but the Greyhounds – a squad which features five D-I transfers – were within one possession in the final minute.
- Vashil Fernandez blocked four shots as the Crusader defense totaled nine blocks and held UIndy to 31.3% shooting.
- Derrik Smits and Shane Hammink made their first appearances in a Valpo uniform, while Lexus Williams returned to the court as well.
- Valpo also played a closed scrimmage at Northwestern as part of the preseason slate.
- Valpo closes out the home opening weekend with a Sunday afternoon matinee at 1:30 p.m. against MAAC preseason favorite Iona.
- The Crusaders then hit the road to take on Rhode Island Tuesday morning as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
- In all to start the season, Valpo will play five games in the first seven days and seven in the first 12 days.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled for the Athletics-Recreation Center in 2015-16.
- The Crusaders posted a 15-1 record at the ARC last season, the second-most home wins in a single season since the building opened.
- Valpo’s .938 home winning percentage last year was also the second-best since the ARC opened.
- Over the last 21 years, the Crusaders own a 250-57 (.814) winning percentage on their home court.
...in home openers
- Valpo has won its home opener each of the last 10 seasons, including nine victories by double figures.
- Last season, the Crusaders took down East Tennessee State by a 90-76 final, led by 27 points from Alec Peters.
- The last time Valpo lost a home opener was Nov. 27, 2004, falling to Charlotte by an 85-71 final.
- IPFW was picked to finish fourth in the Summit League during the 2015-16 campaign.
- The Mastodons had senior Max Landis and junior Mo Evans named to the preseason Second Team All-Summit League.
- IPFW defeated Otterbein, 99-55, in its lone exhibition game.
- The Mastodons finished last year 16-15 overall and 9-7 in Summit League play, earning a berth to the CIT.
What’s Back This Season
- If you said “everything”, you’d be close – the Crusaders return nearly all their players from last year’s record-setting squad.
- 10 of last year’s 11 letterwinners are back for Valpo in 2015-16, comprising 98.8% of its scoring and rebounding and 98.3% of its minutes played from last year’s squad.
- Valpo is the only D-I team in at least the last three years to return all five starters from a team which won at least 28 games.
- Forward David Chadwick, who averaged 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in 12 appearances last year, is the only loss from last season.
- With so much returning from last year, the Crusaders have still found room for some new faces on this year’s squad.
- Lexus Williams is back for the Crusaders after missing the entirety of last season with a knee injury.
- LSU transfer Shane Hammink and UMKC transfer Chandler Levingston Simon are both eligible this season after sitting out last year.
- Derrik Smits is the lone freshman on this year’s team – the 7’1” center was an Indiana All-Star at Zionsville H.S.
High Praise Entering the Year
- With the glut of returnees from last year’s team, the Crusaders have been on the receiving end of high praise from a myriad of national outlets entering the season.
- ESPN.com, SI.com, NBCSports.com, NCAA.com and CBSSports.com have all listed Valpo at or near the top of their respective top mid-major teams.
- The Crusaders are #35 in Ken Pomeroy’s preseason ratings and were ranked #41 entering the year by CBSSports.com.
- Valpo picked up five points in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.
- Individually, head coach Bryce Drew was tabbed one of 10 Coaches on the Rise by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein.
- Vashil Fernandez was listed among the nation’s top-seven rim protectors by NCAA.com.
- Alec Peters is one of 20 players on the watch list for the Karl Malone Award, presented to the nation’s top power forward, and is also on the watch list for the Lou Henson Award.
- Valpo went on an international tour this past August to Canada, spending time in Montreal and Ottawa.
- It marks the second time in program history that the Crusaders have taken advantage of the chance to take an international trip.
- Valpo went 4-1 on the trip, with wins over the Montreal All-Stars, Brookwood Elite, McGill and Ottawa, and a loss to five-time defending national champion Carleton.
- Shane Hammink scored in double figures in all five games of the trip to lead the Crusaders.
The International Flavor
- This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that Valpo 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).
- Over the past two decades, Valpo has welcomed 31 international players from 18 different countries.
- Bryce Drew is in his fifth season as head coach of @ValpoBasketball and is in his 11th season overall on the coaching staff.
- Drew was named HL Coach of the Year in 2014-15, leading Valpo to a school-record 28 victories and the league regular season and tournament titles.
- In 2013-14, 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 then-school record 26 wins.
- Drew was named Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2011-12 in his first season as head coach, winning 22 games and the league 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 the Valpo program.
- Father Homer was head coach from 1988-2002, and then returned to lead Valpo from 2003-11.
- Brother Scott (current head coach of Baylor) 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.
- The Drew family has combined to lead Valpo to 485 victories and 14 postseason appearances.
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 982 collegiate victories over a combined 47 seasons of head coaching.
- Valpo 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.