#rv/rv Valparaiso (19-4, 9-1 Horizon)
Game #24 - Saturday, February 6 - 3 p.m.
at UIC (3-18, 1-9 Horizon)
UIC Pavilion (8,000) - Chicago, Ill.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks for its 20th win of the 2015-16 campaign on Saturday afternoon, as the Crusaders make the short jaunt over the state line to Chicago to face off with UIC. Valpo is looking for a repeat of last season, as the 2014-15 team earned its 20th victory at the UIC Pavilion.
Last Time Out: Valpo continued to take care of business at the ARC last Saturday evening, as the Crusaders scored the game’s first seven points and never looked back, downing Youngstown State 97-68 to remain atop the Horizon League with a 9-1 record in league action. The win was the Crusaders’ 24th straight at the ARC. Alec Peters led Valpo with 18 points in just 21 minutes, while Jubril Adekoya scored 16 off the bench.
Following the Crusaders: Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Color)
TV - CSN Chicago - Jordan Bernfield (PxP) and Sam Panayotovich (Color)
Links for the live video, audio and stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com. Please note that due to contractual agreements, the game will be blacked out on ESPN3 in the Chicago market.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (113-46) 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, 29-24, but Valpo owns a 15-3 advantage in the series since joining the Horizon League. In fact, the Crusaders have won 14 consecutive meetings with the Flames and haven’t lost to UIC since February of 2009. Earlier this season, Valpo opened league play with a 75-47 home win over the Flames on Jan. 2 - the Crusaders limited UIC to 30.5% shooting from the floor in the victory, while Keith Carter led four Valpo players in double figures with 15 points.
...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 Youngstown State
- The Crusaders never trailed in the win over the Penguins, the seventh time this year Valpo has led from start to finish.
- For the first time this season, Valpo hit at least 50% of its total field goals and 50% of its 3-point attempts.
- No Crusader played more than 24 minutes, while 11 of 13 active players scored.
- Four players finished in double figures, led by 18 points from Alec Peters.
- Vashil Fernandez posted his third double-double within league play, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
- Youngstown State shot just 33.3% from the field.
- The Crusaders out-rebounded YSU by a 47-26 margin.
- Valpo matched its season high, registering 19 assists for the second straight game.
- The win extended the Crusaders’ home winning streak at the ARC to 24 consecutive games.
- Valpo returns home next weekend to host Northern Kentucky (Feb. 11) and Wright State (Feb. 13).
- The Crusaders will then travel to Ohio for the third time within league play, taking on Cleveland State at Quicken Loans Arena on Feb. 16.
...on the road
- The game at UIC is the sixth road test for the Crusaders within Horizon League play, as Valpo now owns a 4-1 mark on the road in league action.
- Valpo ended the non-league slate 4-3 in 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.
- UIC enters Saturday’s game at 3-18 overall and at 1-9 in Horizon League play.
- The Flames are coming off a 72-70 overtime win over Cleveland State last Saturday, their second overtime game in the last four.
- Dikembe Dixson stands out as one of the league’s top freshmen, averaging 17.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
- Tai Odiase adds 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and has also tallied 53 blocked shots.
- This season marks the fourth time in Crusader history that Valpo has been 19-4 or better through 23 games.
- Last year’s team also was 19-4 through 23 games en route to a school-record 28 victories.
- Prior to that, you had to go back to the FDR administration, as the “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 was 20-3 through 23 games and ended the year 21-3.
- The Crusaders won their first 19 games in 1923-24 en route to a 24-4 record, while the 1930-31 squad finished at 16-2.
- If this year’s team reached 20 victories, it will be the 19th time in Valpo men’s basketball history to win at least 20 games and the fourth under Bryce Drew.
- Last year’s team reached 20 wins on Jan. 31, the earliest in program history - no other Valpo team has reached the 20-win mark before Feb. 12.
King of Blocks
- Senior Vashil Fernandez is poised to potentially break Valpo’s career blocked shots record in Saturday’s game at UIC.
- Fernandez owns 227 career blocks through last Saturday’s game, one shy of Raitis Grafs’ Crusader record of 228.
- Fernandez blocked 14 shots as a freshman, 58 as a sophomore and 98 as a junior - he has tallied 57 blocked shots to date during his final season.
- Fernandez is averaging 4.0 blocks per game over seven career games against the Flames.
- As a sophomore, he matched Valpo’s then-single game blocks record at UIC with seven rejections, while last year, he broke Valpo’s single-season blocked shots record at the Pavilion as well.
No Doubt In League Play
- Outside of the loss at WSU, the Crusaders have had little drama in the stretch run of Horizon League games, as each of their first nine league wins have come by at least 12 points - including five by at least 25 points.
- Valpo started the HL campaign with six straight wins, all by at least 12 points.
- Going back to the 1940’s, this is the first time Valpo has won even five league games in a row, all by double figures.
- The Crusaders already own four league road wins by 17 or more points after winning just five such games total over the last four years combined.
Glance at the Rankings
- For the fourth straight week, Valpo received votes this week in both the AP (7) and the coaches (8) top-25 polls.
- The Crusaders are in their seventh week this year receiving votes in the AP poll, and picked up 30 points Jan. 18 - their highest total of points ever in the AP poll.
- The Crusaders earned 16 points in the coaches poll Jan. 18 as well, their highest regular-season tally in poll history (Valpo finished ranked #23 in the postseason poll in 1998).
- As of Wednesday’s results, Valpo ranked 34th in the nation in RPI.
- Valpo enters this week ranked third in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 and fifth in the Mid-Major Madness Power 15.
- Following the win over Detroit and subsequent results, the Crusaders moved up to #18 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings - their high-water mark this season.
- As of Thursday’s results, Valpo ranks #22 in the KenPom ratings.
- Valpo closed last season at #61 in the KenPom ratings - its highest year-end ranking was back in 2001-02 (#51).
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’s results, Valpo was atop the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (60.0 ppg) ranks fourth nationally, while its field goal percentage defense (37.1%) is good for fourth in the nation as well.
- Valpo has held nine Division I opponents to their worst or second-worst offensive efficiency of the season.
- Valpo has given up 47 or fewer points five times already this year - the first time the program has done that in one season since the 1946-47 campaign.
Crashing the Glass
- Combined with their stellar defense has been a tremendous effort on the glass, as Valpo currently ranks fifth nationally with a +10.7 rebound margin.
- Valpo’s +31 advantage at Youngstown State was its best against a Division I opponent in at least two decades.
- The Crusaders have been at least +8 on the boards in all 10 Horizon League games, including most recently +21 in the home win over Youngstown State - their eighth double-figure advantage in 10 league games.
- In league play to date, Valpo owns an average edge on the boards of +17.4, while Vashil Fernandez (10.4 rpg) and Alec Peters (8.8 rpg) rank 1-3 in the league in rebounding in league-only action.
- With 460 rebounds through 10 Horizon League games, Valpo is on pace to shatter the previous record for league-only rebounds of 689 - the Crusaders are also on track to shatter the record for league-only rebounding margin of +11.1.
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 94-54 (.635) 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 58-18 (.763) within Horizon League play.
Look at the Record Book
- Both senior Vashil Fernandez and junior Alec Peters are moving up the Crusader career record books in a number of categories.
- Most notably, Fernandez owns 227 career blocked shots - just one from tying and two from passing Raitis Grafs’ Valpo career record of 228.
- Fernandez also ranks 14th in Crusader history with 590 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters moved into 13th place in Valpo history in scoring against YSU with 1,397 career points - 33 shy of 12th place and 73 away from cracking the top-10.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.7%), fourth in 3-pointers made (196), eighth in free throw % (82.2%) and 17th in rebounding (571).
- In addition, senior Keith Carter is just three assists shy of Valpo’s all-time top-20 in that category as well.