Valparaiso (6-2, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #9 - Thursday, December 3 - 7 p.m.
Belmont (5-3, 0-0 Ohio Valley)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to get back on the winning track Thursday evening, as the Crusaders host Belmont at 7 p.m. at the ARC. Thursday’s matchup is the first matchup in a home-and-home series this season between Valpo and the Bruins, as the Crusaders will return the trip at the end of the month.
Last Time Out: Valpo, behind a combined 31 second-half points from Alec Peters and E. Victor Nickerson, nearly erased the entirety of an 11-point second-half deficit at Ball State Saturday afternoon, but the Crusaders would come up one shot short, as a last-second 3-point attempt was off the mark to give the Cardinals a 69-66 win. Peters led all players with 28 points, while Nickerson scored all 16 of his points in the final 20 minutes.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3.com - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Color)
Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (100-44) 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 holds an 8-1 advantage in the all-time series over Belmont, including a perfect 5-0 record in games played at the ARC. The most recent matchup between the two squads came in December of 2002 in Valparaiso, an 83-65 victory for the Crusaders. Four Valpo players finished in double figures in the scoring column that night, led by 19 points from Raitis Grafs, as the Crusaders shot 57% from the field.
...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 Ball State
- Alec Peters led all players with 28 points, matching his career high with 10 field goals (10-18) and setting a season high with five 3’s.
- E. Victor Nickerson scored all 16 of his points in the second half, combining with Peters for 31 of Valpo’s 43 second-half points.
- No other Crusader finished in double figures, as Valpo set a season low with just four points off the bench.
- Valpo lost despite matching a season-best by committing just seven turnovers.
- The Crusaders shot a season-worst 61.9% (13-of-21) from the foul line and missed three front ends of one-and-ones.
- The Crusaders play a pair of road games next week, heading to Indiana State (Dec. 9) and Chicago State (Dec. 11).
- Valpo then returns home for final exam week before hosting its final home game of the 2015 calendar year, Dec. 19 versus Missouri State.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled for the Athletics-Recreation Center in 2015-16 and is already 4-0 at home this year.
- The Crusaders have won 17 consecutive home games dating back to December of 2014.
- 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 254-57 (.817) winning percentage on their home court.
- Belmont enters Thursday’s game at 5-3 on the season, most recently taking down Lipscomb on Tuesday night, 105-89.
- The Bruins are one of the nation’s top offensive teams, ranking first in 2-point pct., fifth in effective field goal pct. and 24th in offensive efficiency.
- Belmont is led by Evan Bradds, who averages 19.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game on 73.9% shooting from the field.
- Craig Bradshaw adds 17 points per game and hits at a 48.1% clip from behind the 3-point line.
See You Again
- It’s a rarity to play the same team twice in the same season in non-league action, but Valpo will do so for the fourth time in the last decade this year with Belmont.
- The home-and-home was set up as part of a scheduling partnership between Belmont and the Horizon League when the Bruins joined the league as an affiliate member in men’s soccer.
- Ironically, Valpo’s last two single-season home-and-homes outside league play were both against UCF.
- The Crusaders and Knights both split series in 2013 and 2008, with both teams winning on their respective home courts.
- The last time Valpo swept a single-season non-league home-and-home was in 2006-07 against Chicago State.
Century Mark for Bryce
- The win over Oregon State gave Valpo head coach Bryce Drew his 100th career victory, both overall and at the helm of the Crusaders.
- Drew is one of just three coaches in Crusader history to reach 100 wins, joining his father Homer, as well as J.M. Christiansen.
- Bryce Drew is just two wins shy of Christiansen’s total of 102 for second place in program history.
- To put it into perspective, Bryce Drew reached 100 wins in just 143 games - Christiansen needed 196 games to reach 100, while Homer Drew needed 230 games.
Defense and Rebounding
- In a couple fundamental parts of the game, the Crusaders have had success in the early portion of the 2015-16 campaign.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (57.3 ppg) ranks seventh nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (36.2%) is good for 19th in the nation.
- Meanwhile, on the glass, the Crusaders out-rebound their opponents by 6.4 boards per game, best in the Horizon League.
- Valpo has surrendered more than 64 points just twice this year and been out-rebounded just twice, in their losses at Oregon and Ball State.
Glance at the Rankings
- This week’s iteration of the Associated Press Top 25 poll is the first in which Valpo has not received any votes.
- The Crusaders picked up votes in the preseason poll and in each of the season’s first two weeks.
- While it is still early in the season and RPI is still highly volatile, as of games of Dec. 1, Valpo was tops in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo is currently #4 in Mid-Major Madness’ Power 15 and sits at #5 in College Insider’s Mid-Major Top 25.
Look at KenPom
- Following the win over Oregon State, the Crusaders moved up to #20 in the KenPom ratings - their high-water mark this season.
- As of Wednesday afternoon, Valpo currently sits 28th in the ratings.
- Valpo’s adjusted defensive efficiency is currently ranked 14th in the nation.
- Valpo closed last season at #61 in the KenPom ratings - its highest year-end ranking was back in 2001-02 (#51).
- The game against Oregon State was already the Crusaders’ third this year against a top-50 team in the KenPom ratings - last season’s team didn’t play a top-50 team until the NCAA Tournament.
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 were 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 all listed Valpo at or near the top of their respective top mid-major teams during the preseason.
- The Crusaders were #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 491 victories and 14 postseason appearances.
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 992 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.