Valparaiso (11-3, 1-0 Horizon)
Game #15 - Friday, January 8 - 6 p.m. CT
at Oakland (9-6, 1-1 Horizon)
Athletics Center O’Rena (4,000) - Rochester, Mich.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team hits the road for the first time in Horizon League play as the Crusaders head to Oakland Friday evening for a nationally-televised showdown with the Golden Grizzlies on ESPN2. Friday’s matchup pits the top two teams in the Horizon League preseason poll against each other.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders matched their program record for consecutive home wins at the ARC last Saturday afternoon with their 20th straight home victory as Valpo opened Horizon League play with a 75-47 win over UIC. Valpo led for double digits for the last 26-plus minutes of the game and held the Flames to just 30.5% shooting for the game. Keith Carter led four Crusaders in double figures with 15 points.
Following the Crusaders: TV - ESPN2 - Dave Lamont (PxP) and Mark Adams (Color)
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 (105-45) 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: A rival dating back to the Mid-Continent Conference days, Valpo holds an 19-7 advantage in the all-time series against Oakland. The Crusaders won the first 16 meetings between the two teams, but the Grizzlies have won seven of the last 10 games. The last 10 meetings have seen the two teams separated by six points or fewer in regulation. The two teams split last season, each winning on their respective home court - Oakland winning in overtime, 89-75, at the O’Rena, and Valpo winning 82-76 at the ARC.
...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 UIC
- Valpo never trailed in the win over the Flames, the fifth time this year it has never trailed in a victory.
- The Crusaders matched the program record for consecutive home wins with their 20th straight victory at the ARC.
- Four different players scored in double figures, led by 15 points from Keith Carter.
- Shane Hammink (13), Alec Peters (12) and Darien Walker (11) all reached double digits as well.
- David Skara made his first start of the season and the second start of his career.
- Peters finished just one rebound shy of what would have been his third straight double-double.
- Valpo limited UIC to just 30.5% shooting from the field and just two 3-pointers.
- The Crusaders were 8-of-17 from 3-point range (47.1%), their fourth consecutive game above 40% from deep.
- Valpo continues the Michigan swing of Horizon League play Sunday afternoon at noon CT at Detroit on the American Sports Network.
- The Crusaders then return home next weekend to host Milwaukee on Thursday, Jan. 14 and Green Bay on Saturday, Jan. 16.
...on the road
- The game against Oakland is the first road test for the Crusaders within Horizon League play.
- Valpo ended the non-league slate 4-3 in seven true road games.
- Last season, Valpo went 8-4 in true road games, including a 5-3 mark in Horizon League road contests, and 13-5 overall in games away from home.
- Oakland enters Friday night’s game at 9-6 overall and 1-1 early in Horizon League play.
- The Golden Grizzlies last took the floor Monday evening, falling in a barnburner against Youngstown State at the O’Rena, 100-98.
- Junior guard Kay Felder has been among the nation’s top players this season, ranking third in the country in scoring (26.1 ppg) and first in assists (9.2 apg).
- Three other Oakland players average in double figures as the Golden Grizzlies rank sixth nationally in scoring offense (86.9 ppg).
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 Wednesday, Valpo ranked second in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, trailing only Purdue.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (57.7 ppg) ranks third nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (37.1%) is good for ninth 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.
- Valpo has given up 47 or fewer points four times already this year - the first time the program has done that in one season since the 1948-49 campaign.
To Push or Not to Push
- The Crusaders have proven more than capable of dictating tempo of games so far this season.
- Valpo has been one of the nation’s slower-paced teams, ranking just 254th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted tempo metric - just over 68 possessions per game.
- Three of Valpo’s next four games are against teams in the top-10 in the nation in tempo, as five Horizon League teams rank in the top-50.
- The Crusaders have already played six games against top-75 teams in tempo this year and have gone above 70 possessions just twice, while Oakland (Friday’s opponent) has been below 70 possessions just twice.
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 86-53 (.619) over the last eight-plus 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 fifth season at the helm, the Crusaders are 50-17 (.746) within Horizon League play.
1,000 Wins for the Drews
- The Drew family dynasty reached a milestone in the Missouri State victory Dec. 19, as Valpo’s win gave Homer, Scott and Bryce Drew a combined 1,000 collegiate head coaching victories.
- The family now owns 1,004 combined wins, as Homer Drew won 640 career games, while Scott Drew owns 259 career wins and Bryce Drew enters Friday with 105 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 496 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 Jan. 5, Valpo ranked 40th in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo entered the week #3 in the Mid-Major Madness Power 15 and ranked fourth 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 Wednesday afternoon, Valpo currently sits #28 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 496 victories and 14 postseason appearances.
- Overall, the trio of Drews owns 1,004 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.