#rv/-- Valparaiso (5-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #6 - Sunday, November 22 - 5 p.m. CT
at #25/rv Oregon (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12)
Matthew Knight Arena (12,364) - Eugene, Ore.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The first team to five wins in the nation, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team comes off of two day’s rest for the first time this year on Sunday evening, as the Crusaders take aim at their biggest win of the season when they meet up with #25/rv Oregon in Eugene, Ore.
Last Time Out: Facing a gauntlet of games in quantity over the opening week unlike any team in the nation, and even unlike any NBA team in the same week’s time span, the Crusaders closed with an easy win over Trinity Christian at the ARC Thursday night, downing the Trolls by an 89-42 final. Four of Valpo’s five starters finished in double figures, led by 20 points and 10 rebounds from Darien Walker.
Following the Crusaders: TV - Pac-12 Networks - JB Long (PxP) and Kevin O’Neill (Color)
Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Color)
Links for the audio and live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (99-42) is in 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 and Oregon will be meeting for the first time in program history on the hardwood. The Crusaders are just 1-8 all-time against current Pac-12 institutions, with the win coming in 2008 in the first round of the CBI at Washington.
...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 Rhode Island
- The Crusaders earned a three-point win on the road as the Rams’ Four McGlynn missed two 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
- Valpo won for the ninth straight game when tipping off in the AM hours, as the game tipped at 10 a.m. ET as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon.
- The Crusaders shot 58.3% from the floor in the second half after shooting just 26.7% in the first 20 minutes.
- Four Crusader starters scored in double figures, led by 14 points from Alec Peters.
...notes from IU Kokomo
- The Crusaders played just seven scholarship players in the win over the Cougars, sitting starters Darien Walker, Keith Carter and Vashil Fernandez.
- Alec Peters and Tevonn Walker combined for just 20 minutes, scoring 23 points - 18 from Peters.
- Jubril Adekoya scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
- E. Victor Nickerson (35), Max Joseph (35) and Nick Davidson (32) all set career highs for minutes played - Davidson scored a career-best 13 points.
- Walk-on Chandler Levingston Simon made his Valpo debut.
...notes from Trinity Christian
- Valpo out-scored the Trolls in the paint, 54-14.
- Four starters finished in double figures, led by 20 points and 10 rebounds from Darien Walker.
- Vashil Fernandez also tallied a double-double, posting 11 points and 10 rebounds.
- All 11 Crusaders who played scored and grabbed a rebound, while 10 of the 11 handed out at least one assist.
- Valpo continues its Pac-12 swing through the Beaver State Tuesday evening at Oregon State.
- The game against the Beavers will close out a stretch of seven games in 12 days to open the season.
- Valpo will then conclude a three-game road swing Saturday night at Ball State.
...on the road
- The game against Oregon is the second of seven true road games for the Crusaders in the non-league slate.
- Last season, Valpo went 8-4 in true road games and 13-5 overall in games away from home.
- Oregon enters Sunday’s game with a 3-0 record this year, most recently defeating Savannah State on Friday night, 77-59.
- The Ducks also defeated Baylor and head coach Scott Drew earlier this season, 74-67.
- Oregon was selected to finish fourth in the Pac-12 preseason poll, picking up one first-place vote.
- Through three games, senior forward Chris Boucher paces the Ducks, averaging 14.0 ppg (65.4% FG%) and 6.7 rpg.
Five Wins in Seven Days
- Having two days off between games is a luxury the Crusaders haven’t enjoyed so far this year until this point.
- Valpo played five games in the season’s first seven days, more than any other Division I or NBA team during that same stretch.
- The Crusaders won all five of those games - four by double figures - to win five in seven days for the first time in program history.
First to Four and Five
- Being the only team in the nation to play so many games so early means that the Crusaders were the quickest to win milestones this season.
- Valpo was the first team in the nation to both four victories (Wednesday) and five victories (Thursday).
- Following Friday’s action, the Crusaders were still the only team in the nation with five wins.
- With a win Sunday, not only would Valpo be the first team to six wins, the Crusaders would also start 6-0 for the first time since 1966-67.
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.
- Three members of this year’s Crusader roster boast fathers who played at the highest level of pro basketball - in the NBA.
- Most notably, Derrik Smits’ father, Rik, played 12 seasons with the Indiana Pacers and was an All-Star.
- Chandler Levingston Simon’s father, Cliff Levingston, was an 11-year NBA vet who won two titles with the Chicago Bulls.
- Shane Hammink’s father, Geert, was a 1993 first-round draft pick who played parts of three seasons in the NBA.
- 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 490 victories and 14 postseason appearances.
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 989 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.