#rv/-- Valparaiso (25-5, 15-2 Horizon)
Game #31 - Sunday, February 28 - 2 p.m.
at Green Bay (19-11, 11-6 Horizon)
Resch Center (9,906) - Green Bay, Wis.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks for its fifth straight victory as the regular season comes to a close Sunday afternoon at Green Bay. The Crusaders are looking to become the first team to claim the Horizon League regular season title by three or more games since the 2009-10 Butler squad.
Last Time Out: In a game which seemingly had more twists and turns than a five-act Broadway play, it was Valpo which made the biggest play of the game, as senior Keith Carter stepped into a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 37 seconds to play in overtime, giving the Crusaders the lead for good in an eventual 80-76 victory over Milwaukee Friday evening in front of a national television audience. Carter would end with four 3-pointers and also hand out five assists, while Alec Peters posted 23 points and six rebounds.
Following the Crusaders: Video – ESPN3 – Andy Masur (PxP) and Dave Kaplan (Color)
Radio – 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 (119-47) 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: Green Bay leads the all-time series over Valpo, 28-23, but Valpo holds an 11-9 edge since the Crusaders joined the Horizon League prior to the 2007-08 campaign. Valpo is just 2-6 in road games against the Phoenix in that time frame, however, and has lost its last two games at Green Bay. Earlier this season, the Crusaders earned their third straight win in the series, downing the Phoenix at the ARC by an 85-70 final as Alec Peters went for 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Vashil Fernandez added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
...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 Milwaukee
- The game against the Panthers was the Crusaders’ first overtime game this season, and was Valpo’s first overtime win since November of 2012.
- Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 23 points, scoring 20+ points in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
- Darien Walker (15 points, three 3-pointers) and Keith Carter (14 points, four 3-pointers) each scored in double figures for the eighth time in Horizon League play.
- After scoring just 28 points in the second half, Valpo was 5-of-6 from the floor, 3-of-3 from the 3-point line and 6-of-6 from the foul line for 19 points in overtime.
- The Crusaders went 15-of-17 from the foul line for the game - the third time this year they’ve hit at an .879 clip or better from the free throw stripe on the road in league play.
- Valpo went 13-of-28 from the 3-point line, its second-most 3-point makes on the season.
- The Crusaders out-rebounded Milwaukee for the game, 43-33.
- Valpo has 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 Green Bay is the ninth and final road test for the Crusaders within Horizon League play, as Valpo now owns a 7-1 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.
- Green Bay enters Sunday’s regular season finale at 19-11 overall this year and 11-6 in Horizon League play.
- The Phoenix secured the fourth seed for the league tournament with an 85-69 win Friday night versus UIC - Green Bay’s fourth straight win.
- Carrington Love leads Green Bay, averaging 18.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
- Charles Cooper adds 13.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while Jordan Fouse records 12 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
Continued Tradition of Excellence
- Last 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.
- With a win in the regular season finale over Green Bay, the Crusaders would win the league title by three games - the first time a team has won by three or more games since the undefeated 2009-10 Butler squad.
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.
Rolling in the Wins
- 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 Milwaukee was Valpo’s 25th of the season, just the fourth time in program history the Crusaders have won at least 25 games.
- Last year’s squad started 25-4 en route to a school-record 28 wins, while the 2012-13 team finished 26-8 and the 2001-02 squad posted a 25-8 record.
- Valpo was the third team in the nation to reach the 25-win mark this year, hitting 25 wins behind only Xavier and Arkansas-Little Rock.
Lopsided League Games
- While Valpo has had a pair of two-point decisions and an overtime game 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 15 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 against Detroit, surpassing 2008-09 Milwaukee’s previous record of 689 - the Crusaders enter Sunday with 743 rebounds in league play.
- Other records the Crusaders could challenge include (Valpo current mark in parentheses):
- Overall scoring margin, +12.6, 2001-02 Butler (+14.6)
- 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 (+15.4)
- League-only rebounding average, 43.2, 1981-82 Loyola (43.7)
- League-only rebounding margin, +11.1, 1986-87 Loyola (+13.8)
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 mid-day Saturday, Valpo ranked 50th 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 mid-day Saturday, Valpo ranks #32 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 mid-day Saturday, Valpo ranked fourth in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- Despite surrendering 74+ points in each of the last three games, Valpo still ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense (60.8 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 17 Horizon League games and have held a double-figure advantage in 11 of the 17 games.
- In league play to date, Valpo owns an average edge on the boards of +13.8, while Alec Peters (8.9 rpg) and Vashil Fernandez (8.7 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 100-55 (.645) 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 64-19 (.771) 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 259 total blocks), Fernandez also is tied for 13th in Crusader history with 634 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters moved up two spots on Valpo’s career scoring chart last time out and now sits eighth with 1,521 career points - just 18 points behind Bruce Lindner for seventh in program history.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.7%), fourth in 3-pointers made (214), eighth in free throw % (82.3%) and tied for 13th in rebounding (634).
- 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 265 career assists.
- With his three blocks last time out, Fernandez has 89 blocks this season - second on the single-season charts, behind only his 98-block mark from last year.
- Peters has now hit 74 3-pointers this season, tied for 10th-most in a single season in program history.