Valparaiso (1-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #2 - Sunday, November 15 - 1:30 p.m.
Iona (0-0, 0-0 MAAC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: With one victory already under its belt, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team continues a busy stretch of early-season games with a Sunday afternoon matinee against MAAC preseason favorite Iona.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso men’s basketball team raised its 2014-15 championship banners to the rafters prior to Friday night’s season opener, and then the 2015-16 squad started its quest to replicate and surpass the success of last year, taking down IPFW at the ARC by a 78-64 final. Four players scored in double figures for the Crusaders, led by 24 points from Alec Peters.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3.com - Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Color), Tommy Mantice (Sideline)
Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Links for the audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (95-42) 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: Iona has won both previous matchups between the two programs, with one coming in the regular season in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2008. Most recently, the Gaels downed the Crusaders in the opening round of the CBI at the ARC, 85-77, on Mar. 16, 2011. Jay Harris paced Valpo with 20 points in the losing effort.
...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.
...notes from IPFW
- The Crusaders took the lead for good with 9:23 to play in the first half, falling into a tie just once in the second half.
- Alec Peters paced Valpo with 24 points and tied with David Skara and Jubril Adekoya for game-high honors with seven boards.
- Peters was one of four Crusaders in double figures - Skara (14), Shane Hammink and Keith Carter (10 apiece).
- Hammink scored in double figures in his first regular season game in a Valpo uniform.
- Valpo enjoyed 32 points from its bench, the most against a D-I opponent since receiving 34 bench points in last year’s season opener.
- Valpo’s FG pct. (42.3%-54.2%), 3PT pct. (12.5%-50%) and FT pct. (57.9%-73.7%) all increased dramatically in the second half.
- The Crusaders hit the road to take on Rhode Island Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. CT as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
- Valpo then flies home for games against IU Kokomo (Wednesday) and Trinity Christian (Thursday) at the ARC.
- 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 251-57 (.815) winning percentage on their home court.
- Iona has been picked to win the MAAC this season.
- The Gaels will be playing their first regular season contest of the year on Sunday.
- Iona boasts the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year in guard A.J. English, who averaged 20.1 ppg a season ago.
- The two-time defending MAAC regular season champions return four starters in all from a 26-win team last year.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- Valpo enjoyed 38 free throws in the season opener versus IPFW, going 25-of-38 from the foul line.
- The Crusaders attempted 23 more free throws than the Mastodons, after attempting 87 more foul shots than their opponents all last year.
- The 38 FTA for Valpo was the team’s most since attempting 43 in last year’s season opener versus East Tennessee State.
- Alec Peters tied a career high for free throws made, going 9-of-10 from the stripe.
- Valpo tallied 10 steals in the season-opening win over IPFW, forcing a total of 18 Mastodon turnovers.
- The Crusaders out-scored IPFW in points off turnovers by a 21-9 margin.
- Valpo reached double digits in steals after doing so just twice all last season against D-I competition.
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 486 victories and 14 postseason appearances.
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 984 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.