Valparaiso (10-2, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #13 - Monday, December 28 - 7 p.m.
at Belmont (7-6, 0-0 Ohio Valley)
Curb Event Center (5,000) - Nashville, Tenn.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to close the 2015 calendar year on a winning note as the Crusaders travel to Nashville for their final non-league matchup of the season, taking on Belmont. The game marks the end of an in-season home-and-home series with the Bruins which saw Valpo claim a home game over Belmont in early December.
Last Time Out: The 1,000th win in the combined coaching careers of the Drew family came with ease last Saturday afternoon, and appropriately enough on Homer Drew Court at the ARC, as the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team defeated Missouri State, 74-45, to improve to 10-2 on the season. Alec Peters led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Tevonn Walker returned to the Crusader lineup with 18 points
Following the Crusaders: Video - OVC Digital Network
Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Color)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (104-44) 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 9-1 advantage in the all-time series over Belmont, including a perfect 6-0 record in games played at the ARC. The teams met for the first time since 2002 earlier this month in Valpo, a game the Crusaders won on the defensive side of the ball, coming out with a 61-57 victory. Valpo limited Belmont to 30 points below their season scoring average entering the game and forced 19 turnovers. Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 17 points, while Keith Carter added 14 as well.
...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 Missouri State
- After missing the last four games, Tevonn Walker returned to the starting lineup and scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
- Alec Peters and Keith Carter combined for 20 of Valpo’s first 22 points over the opening 13-plus minutes.
- Darien Walker hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the first half to help push the Crusaders’ halftime lead to 12 points - MSU would get no closer in the second half.
- Peters finished with his third double-double of the year, tallying 19 points and 10 rebounds.
- Valpo limited the Bears to just 32.1% shooting and just 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
- The Crusaders posted their best single-game defensive efficiency since a win at Cleveland State in February of 2012.
- The Crusaders kick off the 2016 calendar year with the Horizon League opener at home against UIC Saturday afternoon, Jan. 2.
- Valpo then makes the difficult road trip to Michigan within league play the next weekend, taking on Oakland Friday, Jan. 8 and Detroit Sunday, Jan. 10.
...on the road
- The game against Indiana State is the last of seven true road games for the Crusaders in the non-league slate (4-2 so far).
- Last season, Valpo went 8-4 in true road games and 13-5 overall in games away from home.
- Belmont enters Monday’s game at 7-6 on the season, most recently falling on a buzzer-beater at Cleveland State, 67-65.
- The Bruins have split their four games since the Crusaders earned the win at the ARC in early December.
- Evan Bradds continues to lead Belmont offensively, hitting at a 71.1% clip from the field and averaging 16.9 points per game.
- Craig Bradshaw adds 15.7 points per game and hits at a 39.8% clip from 3-point range.
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.
- The Crusaders are still enjoying one of their best starts since the move to Division I.
- Valpo owns a 10-2 record through 12 games, just the fourth time since the move to D-I the Crusaders have at least 10 wins in their first 12.
- Valpo was 10-2 through 12 games last season, as well as in the 2007-08 and 1996-97 campaigns.
Getting It Done With Defense
- One of the best defensive teams in the nation last season, the Crusaders have been even stronger defensively this season.
- Valpo entered Sunday ranked second in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, trailing only Purdue.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (56.3 ppg) ranks third nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (36.5%) is good for eighth in the nation.
- Valpo has surrendered more than 64 points just twice this year, in its losses at Oregon and Ball State.
- The Crusaders have limited Iona, Rhode Island, Oregon State and Belmont all under 60 points this season - none of the four teams have been held to fewer than 62 points in any other game.
1,000 Wins for the Drews
- The Drew family dynasty reached a milestone last time the Crusaders played, as Valpo’s win gave Homer, Scott and Bryce Drew a combined 1,000 collegiate head coaching victories.
- The family now owns 1,001 combined wins, as Homer Drew won 640 career games, while Scott Drew owns 257 career wins and Bryce Drew enters Monday with 104 wins.
- The Drew family ranks third in collegiate history (most of their careers at the D-I level) for combined wins, ranking behind only the Ibas and the Suttons.
Glance at the Rankings
- The Crusaders picked up votes in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll and in each of the season’s first two weeks.
- As of games of Dec. 26, Valpo ranked 20th in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo is currently #4 in College Insider’s Mid-Major Top 25 and sits at #2 in the Mid-Major Madness Power 15.
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 Sunday afternoon, Valpo currently sits 29th in the ratings.
- 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.
- The game against Belmont was the Crusaders’ fifth against a top-100 team - last year’s team played five top-100 games total in the regular season.
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.
- Drew ranks second among head coaches in program history in career wins.
- 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 495 victories and 14 postseason appearances.
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 1,001 collegiate victories over a combined 47 seasons of head coaching.