#--/rv Valparaiso (22-5, 12-2 Horizon)
Game #28 - Friday, February 19 - 7 p.m.
Oakland (19-9, 11-4 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team returns to the ARC for a battle between the top two teams in the Horizon League standings, as the Crusaders host Oakland in front of a national television audience on Friday night. A win on Friday would secure the Crusaders at least a share of the league regular season title.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders put together yet another in a string of stellar defensive efforts this evening on Tuesday evening at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio as Valpo eased past Cleveland State, 66-43. The 43 points Valpo surrendered to the Vikings was the fewest the Crusaders have given up against a Division I opponent this season, while it was also the sixth time this season Valpo’s opponent has finished with 47 or fewer points.
Following the Crusaders: TV – ESPNU - Jordan Bernfield (PxP) and Brooke Weisbrod (Color)
Radio - WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Color) and Brandon Vickrey (Sidelines)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (116-47) 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 20-7 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 11 games. The first meeting this year went Valpo’s way, as the Crusaders won 84-67 in Rochester, Mich. Tevonn Walker paced Valpo with 24 points - including six 3-pointers - in the victory, while the Crusaders limited Kay Felder to 20 points on 8-of-28 shooting.
...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 Cleveland State
- Valpo limited the Vikings to just 43 points on 28.6% shooting, both their best defensive marks against a D-I opponent this season.
- CSU was just 8-of-36 from inside the 3-point line, while the Crusaders blocked seven of the Vikings’ two-point attempts.
- Vashil Fernandez recorded six blocked shots, the third time in the last four games he has tallied six rejections.
- Alec Peters finished with his ninth double-double of the year, tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds.
- Shane Hammink made his first career start in the win, while David Skara came off the bench for the first time in league play.
- Valpo dominated the Vikings in the paint, 38-14, and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, converting them into 21 second-chance points.
- The Crusaders held Demonte Flannigan, who entered the game averaging 18.8 ppg over the last six contests, to just six points on 3-of-10 shooting.
- Valpo hosts Detroit in the home finale on Senior Day this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 21.
- The Crusaders close the regular season with the Wisconsin road swing, heading to Milwaukee next Friday and Green Bay next Sunday.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 15 regular season home games scheduled for the Athletics-Recreation Center in 2015-16 and is 12-1 at home this year.
- The Crusaders had their school-record 25-game home winning streak snapped in their last home game, falling to Wright State last Saturday - the winning streak had dated 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 262-58 (.819) winning percentage on their home court.
- Oakland enters Friday night’s game with a 19-9 record overall on the year and an 11-4 mark in league play, placing the Golden Grizzlies second in the HL standings.
- The Golden Grizzlies won at Wright State last time out on Monday, 89-73, to improve to 7-0 within league play on the road.
- Junior Kay Felder paces Oakland, averaging 24.4 points per game and leading the nation with 9.2 assists per game.
- Three other Golden Grizzlies average in double figures as well, as Oakland scores 87.2 ppg as a team.
Continued Tradition of Excellence
- A win over the Golden Grizzlies would secure at least a share of the 2015-16 Horizon League regular season title for the Crusaders.
- It would be the fourth Horizon League regular season championship in the last five years for Valpo, all under current head coach Bryce Drew.
- The title would also be the 16th regular season championship in Crusader men’s basketball history, 13 of which have come since 1995.
Rolling in the Wins
- This season marked the fourth time in Crusader history that Valpo won 21 times in 25 games or fewer.
- Last year’s team also was 21-4 through 25 games, and would go on to be 25-4 before suffering its fifth loss, 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 ended the season 21-3 - reaching 21 wins in just 24 games.
- 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.
- This year’s Crusader team reached 20 victories with the win at UIC - the 19th team in Valpo men’s basketball history to win at least 20 games and the fourth under Bryce Drew.
- The victory last time out over Cleveland State was Valpo’s 22nd of the season, just the 13th time in program history the Crusaders have won at least 22 games.
No Doubt In League Play
- Outside of the losses to WSU, the Crusaders have had little drama in the stretch run of Horizon League games, as each of their first 12 league wins have come by at least 12 points - including five by at least 25 points.
- In fact, the most recent loss to Wright State was the first game decided by single digits either way for the Crusaders in league play this year.
- 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.
- Valpo’s previous high in HL play for double-figure victories was six, accomplished by the 2010-11 and 2012-13 Crusader squads.
- The Crusaders already own six 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 sixth straight week, Valpo received a vote in the coaches top-25 poll this week, while the Crusaders fell out of the AP poll for the first time in six weeks.
- The Crusaders have received votes in seven editions of the AP poll this season, 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 68th in the nation in RPI.
- 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 Wednesday’s results, Valpo ranks #26 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 led the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Valpo’s scoring defense (58.9 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (37.1%) both rank second nationally.
- Valpo has held 12 Division I opponents to one of their three worst offensive efficiencies of the season.
- Valpo has given up 47 or fewer points six 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 sixth nationally with a +10.3 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 +6 on the boards in all 14 Horizon League games and have held a double-figure advantage in nine of the 14 games.
- In league play to date, Valpo owns an average edge on the boards of +14.7, while Vashil Fernandez (9.0 rpg) and Alec Peters (8.6 rpg) rank 2-4 in the league in rebounding in league-only action.
- With 617 rebounds through 14 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 97-55 (.638) in nine years as a Horizon League member 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 61-19 (.763) within Horizon League play.
Look at the Record Book
- Both senior Vashil Fernandez and junior Alec Peters are moving up the Crusader record books in a number of categories.
- Beyond his school-record block total (now sitting at 248 total blocks), Fernandez also ranks 14th in Crusader history with 612 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters passed Jim Ford last time out for 11th place in Valpo history in scoring with 1,450 career points.
- Peters is just 20 points away from cracking Valpo’s career top-10 list.
- Peters also ranks fourth in 3-point % (43.2%) and in 3-pointers made (202), eighth in free throw % (82.1%) and 15th in rebounding (603).
- In addition, senior Keith Carter moved into Valpo’s all-time top-20 in assists at UIC and now ranks 20th in Crusader history with 245 career assists.
- With his six blocks last time out, Fernandez has 78 blocks this season - second on the single-season charts, behind only his 98-block mark from last year.