Valparaiso (10-3, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #14 - Saturday, January 2 - 1 p.m.
UIC (2-9, 0-0 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team opens both the 2016 calendar year and this season’s Horizon League slate on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders welcome UIC to the ARC. Valpo is in search of its fourth Horizon League regular season title in the last five seasons, and can match a program record for consecutive home wins with a victory Saturday.
Last Time Out: Valpo looked to complete a comeback late at a venue where very few visiting teams walk out with victories Monday night in Nashville, Tenn., but the Crusaders were unable to get a potential game-tying shot to drop late as Valpo fell 85-81 to Belmont. The Crusaders trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, but could only rally back to within one point. Five Valpo players scored in double figures, led by a season-high 19 points from Shane Hammink.
Following the Crusaders: TV - American Sports Network - Brock Bowling (PxP) and Bob Donewald (Color) [available locally on Comcast SportsNet Chicago]
Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Color)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (104-45) 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: UIC leads the all-time series against the Crusaders, 29-23, but Valpo owns a 14-3 advantage in the series since joining the Horizon League. In fact, the Crusaders have won 13 consecutive meetings with the Flames and haven’t lost to UIC since February of 2009. Last season saw the Crusaders handle the Flames easily at the ARC, 85-56, and then hold off a UIC comeback attempt in Chicago, 70-65.
...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 Belmont
- Valpo surrendered a season-high 85 points to the Bruins.
- The Crusaders lost despite scoring 81 points, their second-highest output of the year against a D-I opponent.
- Five Valpo players scored in double figures, led by season highs of 19 points from Shane Hammink and 16 points from Keith Carter.
- Valpo had a shot at a potential game-tying 3-pointer that was off the mark in the final 10 seconds.
- The Crusaders went 9-of-22 from 3-point range, their third straight game above the 40% mark from downtown.
- Valpo’s 35 points off the bench are the most in a single game this year.
- Valpo went small late in the second half with lineups of Peters, Skara, Hammink, Carter and Tevonn Walker/Darien Walker for a span of 7:42 - the first time this season the Crusaders have used either lineup.
- Valpo makes the difficult road trip to Michigan within league play next weekend.
- The Crusaders face Oakland live on ESPN2 on Friday, Jan. 8, and continue on to take on Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 10.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled for the Athletics-Recreation Center in 2015-16 and is already 6-0 at home this year.
- The Crusaders have won 19 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 256-57 (.818) winning percentage on their home court.
Looking to Match a Record
- With a win on Saturday, the Crusaders would tie the program record for the longest winning streak at the ARC.
- Valpo enters Saturday with 19 straight home wins, just one shy of the record of 20.
- The Crusaders have not lost at home since falling to New Mexico on Dec. 6, 2014 - Valpo went 15-0 at the ARC in the 2015 calendar year.
- The program-record 20-game home win streak at the ARC started Nov. 24, 2001 with a win over Milwaukee.
- Valpo won 11 straight home games to close the 2001-02 campaign and captured its first nine home games in 2002-03.
- The 20-game home win streak ended Feb. 1, 2003 with an overtime loss to UMKC.
- UIC enters Saturday’s game at 2-9 on the year and is still looking for its first win over a Division I opponent.
- The Flames ended non-league play with a tight home loss to Northern Illinois, 70-65.
- Under first-year head coach Steve McClain, freshman Dikembe Dixson leads the way, averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.0 rpg.
- UIC is ranked 25th in the nation in tempo, one of four Horizon League teams among the top-25 in the nation in possessions/game.
Continued Success Within the League
- Valpo has been strong within Horizon League play since joining the league prior to the 2007-08 season.
- The Crusaders own a league record of 85-53 (.616) over the last eight years and have had just one sub-.500 season in league play.
- Valpo has captured three of the last four Horizon League regular season titles.
- In Bryce Drew’s four seasons, the Crusaders are 49-17 (.742) within Horizon League play.
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.
- As of Thursday evening, Valpo ranked third in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, trailing only Purdue and West Virginia.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (58.5 ppg) ranks sixth nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (37.6%) is good for 13th in the nation.
- Valpo has surrendered more than 64 points in only its three losses to Oregon, Ball State and Belmont.
- 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 in the Missouri State victory, as Valpo’s win gave Homer, Scott and Bryce Drew a combined 1,000 collegiate head coaching victories.
- The family now owns 1,002 combined wins, as Homer Drew won 640 career games, while Scott Drew owns 258 career wins and Bryce Drew enters Saturday 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.
- The Drews are closing in on another milestone as well, as they have combined to lead the Valpo program to 495 victories.
Comparing the Non-League Schedules
- While this year’s team went just 8-3 in non-league D-I games against last season’s 10-2 record in such games, this season’s schedule proved to be much more challenging.
- This year’s team played two top-50 KenPom games (1-1) in the non-league slate and five top-100 games (3-2), while last year’s squad played just one top-100 game.
- On the flip side, last year’s team played seven games against teams ranked 201st or worse, while this year, the Crusaders faced just two such teams.
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. 31, Valpo ranked 28th in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo entered the week atop the Mid-Major Madness Power 15 and ranked #3 in College Insider’s Mid-Major Top 25.
- Following the win over Oregon State, the Crusaders moved up to #20 in the KenPom ratings - their high-water mark this season.
- As of Thursday afternoon, Valpo currently sits #32 in the ratings.
- Valpo closed last season at #61 in the KenPom ratings - its highest year-end ranking was back in 2001-02 (#51).
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 1,002 collegiate victories over a combined 47 seasons of head coaching.