#rv/-- Valparaiso (24-5, 14-2 Horizon)
Game #30 - Friday, February 26 - 6 p.m.
at Milwaukee (18-11, 9-7 Horizon)
UWM Panther Arena (10,783) - Milwaukee, Wis.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Having already clinched the 2016 Horizon League regular season title, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to close out the slate on a high note this weekend in Wisconsin, starting with a Friday night game at Milwaukee. The Crusaders and Panthers will play live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. - Valpo’s third game on ESPN2 of the season.
Last Time Out: Four years to the day after clinching its first Horizon League regular season title, Valpo made it four regular season championships in five seasons at the ARC Sunday afternoon as the Crusaders led start to finish in a 90-74 victory over Detroit on Senior Day. Junior Alec Peters led the way with 32 points and 11 rebounds, moving into Valpo’s career top-10 in scoring, while senior Keith Carter handed out eight assists and matched his career best with five steals.
Following the Crusaders: TV – ESPN2 – Bob Picozzi (PxP) and Tim McCormick (Color)
Radio – 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 (118-47) 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: Valpo owns a 19-12 edge in the all-time series over Milwaukee, including an 12-7 record since joining the Horizon League. The series, which traditionally has been tightly contested, has seen seven of the last eight games decided by at least 12 points. The Crusaders have won eight of the last nine in the series, including a 68-56 win at the ARC earlier this season. Valpo received 14 points and nine rebounds from Vashil Fernandez in the victory as the Crusaders shot 50% from the floor.
...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 Detroit
- Alec Peters finished with 32 points - his second 30-point effort of the season (both versus Detroit) - and 11 rebounds to lead all players in the win.
- Keith Carter scored 13 points - his fourth time in double figures in the last five games - and handed out eight assists - his third effort of six or more assists in the last four games.
- Carter also matched his career high with five steals against the Titans.
- Vashil Fernandez blocked five shots - the fifth time he has at least five rejections in the last eight contests.
- Shane Hammink hit all three of his 3-point attempts in a 14-point effort off the bench.
- Valpo assisted on 20 of its 27 baskets and knocked down 12 3-pointers, tied for its second-most in a single game this season.
- The Crusaders won despite allowing Detroit to hit 52.1% from the floor and 52.9% from 3-point range - the first time this year a Valpo opponent has done both in the same game.
- Valpo doubled up Detroit in points off turnovers (24-12) despite committing only one few turnover and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds.
- The Crusaders close the regular season Sunday afternoon at Green Bay with a 2 p.m. tip.
- Valpo has already secured the no. 1 seed for the upcoming Horizon League Championship at Joe Louis Arena and will play in the first semifinal on Monday, Mar. 7 at 6 p.m. CT.
...on the road
- The game at Milwaukee is the eighth road test for the Crusaders within Horizon League play, as Valpo now owns a 6-1 mark on the road in league action.
- Valpo ended the non-league slate 4-3 in true road games.
- The Crusaders have secured an above-.500 winning percentage in true road games this season, the third time in the last four years they’ve had a winning road record after not doing so in the previous 10 seasons.
- 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.
- Milwaukee enters Friday night’s game at 18-11 overall and 9-7 within Horizon League play, currently good for fifth place.
- The Panthers are coming off big home wins last weekend over Cleveland State (88-54) and Youngstown State (87-51).
- All five Milwaukee starters average at least 10 points per game, led by senior Matt Tiby, who is averaging 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest.
- Junior guard Jordan Johnson is posting 12.4 points per game and ranks second in the nation with 8.0 assists/game.
Peters Earns National Honor
- Junior Alec Peters was named the CBSSports.com National Player of the Week on Monday following his trio of double-doubles in the preceding week.
- Over Valpo’s three wins last week, Peters averaged 21 points and 11.7 rebounds per game on .655/.571/.850 shooting.
- Peters became the first player in program history to earn the national weekly honor from CBS Sports.
- Peters, who was also named Horizon League Player of the Week, previously earned a national award earlier this year as he was named Lou Henson Award National Player of the Week by College Insider on Jan. 11.
Continued Tradition of Excellence
- Sunday’s win over Detroit secured the outright 2015-16 Horizon League regular season title for the Crusaders.
- It marks the fourth Horizon League regular season championship in the last five years for Valpo, all under current head coach Bryce Drew.
- The title is 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 Detroit was Valpo’s 24th of the season, just the seventh time in program history the Crusaders have won at least 24 games.
Lopsided League Games
- While Valpo has had a pair of two-point decisions recently, that’s been far from the norm this year for the Crusaders in league play.
- The Crusaders have had little drama in the stretch run of most of their Horizon League games, as 13 of 14 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.
- 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.
Challenging League Records
- This year’s Crusaders are in position to potentially break a number of Horizon League records.
- Valpo already set the league record for rebounds in league-only play last time out, surpassing 2008-09 Milwaukee’s previous record of 689 - the Crusaders enter Friday with 700 rebounds in league play.
- Other records the Crusaders could challenge include (Valpo current mark in parentheses):
- Overall scoring margin, +12.6, 2001-02 Butler (+15.0)
- Overall rebounding average, 41.8, 1990-91 Dayton (41.8)
- Overall rebounding margin, +10.4, 1989-90 Xavier (+10.2)
- League-only scoring margin, +13.2, 2009-10 Butler (+16.1)
- League-only rebounding average, 43.2, 1981-82 Loyola (43.8)
- League-only rebounding margin, +11.1, 1986-87 Loyola (+14.1)
Glance at the Rankings
- Valpo received votes in the AP top-25 poll this week for the sixth time in a seven-week span, while the Crusaders fell out of the coaches poll for the first time in seven weeks.
- The Crusaders have received votes in eight editions of the AP poll this season, including three points this week, 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 Tuesday’s results, Valpo ranked 60th 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 Tuesday’s results, Valpo ranks #31 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 Tuesday’s results, Valpo ranked fifth in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Despite surrendering 84 and 74 points the last two games, Valpo still ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense (60.3 ppg) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (37.9%).
- 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 +10.2 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 held the advantage on the glass in all 16 Horizon League games and have held a double-figure advantage in 10 of the 16 games.
- In league play to date, Valpo owns an average edge on the boards of +14.1, while Alec Peters (9.1 rpg) and Vashil Fernandez (8.8 rpg) rank 2-3 in the league in rebounding in league-only action.
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 99-55 (.643) in nine years as a Horizon League member and have had just one sub-.500 season in league play.
- Valpo has captured four of the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
- In Bryce Drew’s fifth season at the helm, the Crusaders are 63-19 (.768) 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 at 256 total blocks), Fernandez also ranks 14th in Crusader history with 627 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters ranks 10th in Valpo history in scoring with 1,498 career points - just 10 points shy of Harry Bell in ninth, and just 22 points behind Dick Jones in eighth.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.6%) and in 3-pointers made (209), eighth in free throw % (82.2%) and 13th in rebounding (628).
- In addition, senior Keith Carter moved into Valpo’s all-time top-20 in assists at UIC and now ranks 18th in Crusader history with 260 career assists.
- With his five blocks last time out, Fernandez has 86 blocks this season - second on the single-season charts, behind only his 98-block mark from last year.