#rv/rv Valparaiso (26-5, 16-2 Horizon)
Game #32 - Monday, March 7 - 6 p.m. CT
vs. Green Bay (21-12, 11-7 Horizon)
Horizon League Championship Semifinal
Joe Louis Arena (20,027) - Detroit, Mich.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team heads into the 2016 Horizon League Championship as the top seed for the fourth time in the last five years, and will face fourth-seeded Green Bay in semifinal action Monday evening on ESPNU at 6 p.m. CT. The Crusaders are looking for their third tournament championship in the last four years.
Last Time Out: A drama-filled weekend reached its crescendo at 3:52 p.m. last Sunday afternoon at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., as junior Shane Hammink rose up and delivered a dagger of a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.2 seconds to play as the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team ended the regular season with a 70-68 win over Green Bay. Alec Peters led Valpo with 25 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while Hammink closed out an 11-point night with his game-winner.
Following the Crusaders: TV – ESPNU – Jordan Bernfield (PxP), Sean Harrington (Color) and Kayce Smith (Sidelines)
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 (120-47) 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, 28-24, but Valpo holds a 12-9 edge since the Crusaders joined the Horizon League prior to the 2007-08 campaign and won their fourth straight in the series with last Sunday’s victory. In the Horizon League Championship, the Crusaders are 3-0 all-time against the Phoenix, winning a first-round game in 2007-08, a semifinal in 2012-13 and the title game last season.
...in the @HorizonLeague preseason projections
- Valpo was picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 36 of the 43 first-place votes.
- With the regular season title this year, the Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last six 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 2014-15
- 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.
- 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 Green Bay
- Shane Hammink connected on the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds to play - according to Hammink, it was the first game-winning basket of his basketball career.
- Hammink’s triple capped a game which was played within a narrow nine-point spread and which featured 15 ties and 23 lead changes - including seven lead changes in the final 4:11 of the contest.
- Alec Peters posted his 12th double-double of the year and eighth within Horizon League play, finishing with 25 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
- Valpo went 10-for-23 from 3-point range - its third consecutive game hitting at least 10 3-pointers.
- The Crusaders were out-rebounded within Horizon League play for the first time this year, as the Phoenix held a 43-42 advantage on the glass.
- Green Bay grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, matching the most Valpo has surrendered in a single game this season, and converted those into 20 second-chance points.
- With a semifinal win, the Crusaders would play for the Horizon League tournament title on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.
- Valpo has already clinched a postseason berth with the league regular season crown.
- Valpo clinched a share of the league regular season crown with the home win over Oakland, and secured the outright title two days later with the win over Detroit.
- Last weekend’s sweep of the Wisconsin road trip gave the Crusaders a 16-2 record in Horizon League play.
- Valpo won the regular season crown by three games - the first Horizon League team to claim the title by three games or more since the undefeated 2009-10 Butler squad.
- The Crusaders have now won four outright regular season titles in Bryce Drew’s five years at the helm.
- Valpo has now claimed its conference regular season title in 13 of the last 22 seasons - the Crusaders now have 16 regular season league titles total in program history.
Four in Five Years
- Valpo’s stretch of four regular season titles in five years puts the Crusaders among the top spans of results in Horizon League history.
- Xavier won six regular season championships in an eight-year stretch, including five in six years (1987-88; 89-90; 90-91; 92-93; 93-94; 94-95).
- Butler won four straight regular season titles (1999-2003) and then had another five-year string of championships (2006-2011).
- Three Crusaders were honored with Horizon League postseason awards, all of whom earned repeat accolades.
- Head coach Bryce Drew earned Coach of the Year honors for the third time in his career (2011-12; 2014-15).
- Drew joins Pete Gillen, Jim Crews, Barry Collier, Bruce Pearl and Todd Lickliter as the only coaches to be named Horizon League Coach of the Year at least three times.
- Senior Vashil Fernandez was named Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight year - the first player in league history to earned the honor twice - and also repeated as a member of the league’s All-Defensive Team.
- Junior Alec Peters was named a First Team All-Horizon League selection for the second straight season.
Heading to the Postseason Again
- The regular season title this season also secures at worst a berth in the postseason NIT for the Crusaders.
- This marks the sixth straight season Valpo will appear in postseason play and the 15th time in the last 21 years.
- Every four-year senior class since the 1995 class has made at least one postseason trip.
Easy as 1-2-3
- While the old adage says it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season, that hasn’t been the case for the Crusaders over the years.
- In Bryce Drew’s tenure at the helm of the Valpo program, the Crusaders are 5-2 against teams they have already beaten twice during the regular season.
- Going back further, over the last 22 years, the Crusaders hold a 21-4 record when looking for their third win of the year against a team.
- This year marks the first season since Valpo joined the Horizon League in 2007-08 that the league has employed a single-site tournament format.
- The Crusaders had hosted the league tournament in each of the previous three years they won the regular season championship.
- Previously, as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, seven of Valpo’s eight Mid-Con Tournament titles came at single-site tournaments.
Crusaders at the Horizon League Championship
- Valpo owns a 10-6 mark in the league tournament since joining the Horizon League.
- Under Bryce Drew, the Crusaders are 6-2 in the Horizon League Championship and have won at least one game in each of his first four tournaments.
Peters Closing With a Flourish
- Junior forward Alec Peters has been at his best for the Crusaders in the last two weeks.
- Peters led Valpo to five wins over the regular season’s last two weeks, posting four double-doubles and averaging 22.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game on .571/.533/.852 shooting.
- Peters was named CBS Sports National Player of the Week Feb. 22 - the first player in program history to earn the honor from CBS Sports - and was chosen as American Sports Network National Player of the Week Feb. 29.
- Peters earned Horizon League Player of the Week honors from both the league office and College Sports Madness both weeks.
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 in the regular season finale at Green Bay was Valpo’s 26th of the season, just the third time in program history the Crusaders have won at least 26 games.
- Last year’s squad also owned a 26-5 record entering the Horizon League Championship en route to a school-record 28 wins, while the 2012-13 team finished 26-8.
- As of mid-day Sunday, Valpo is one of just 10 teams in the nation with 26 or more victories this season.
Big Wins, Then Tight Games
- Each of Valpo’s first 12 games of the Horizon League slate (11 wins, 1 loss) was decided by double figures.
- But over the last six games of the league schedule, four of them ended as a two-point game or in overtime.
- 13 of the Crusaders’ 16 league wins came 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 won six league road games 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 have already broken a number of Horizon League records and are in position to potentially set a few others.
- Valpo set the league record for rebounds in league-only play against Detroit, surpassing 2008-09 Milwaukee’s previous record of 689 - the Crusaders closed out the league slate with 785 rebounds in league play.
- With the end of the regular season, the Crusaders set new league records for (Valpo final mark in parentheses):
- League-only scoring margin, +13.2, 2009-10 Butler (+14.7)
- League-only rebounding average, 43.2, 1981-82 Loyola (43.6)
- League-only rebounding margin, +11.1, 1986-87 Loyola (+13.0)
- Other records the Crusaders could challenge include (Valpo current mark in parentheses):
- Overall scoring margin, +12.6, 2001-02 Butler (+14.3)
- Overall rebounding average, 41.8, 1990-91 Dayton (41.8)
- Overall rebounding margin, +10.4, 1989-90 Xavier (+9.8)
Glance at the Rankings
- Valpo received votes in both the AP top-25 poll and the coaches top-25 poll this week for the seventh time in an eight-week span.
- The Crusaders have received votes in nine editions of the AP poll this season, including two points this week, and picked up 30 points Jan. 18 - their highest total of points ever in the AP poll.
- The Crusaders earned six points in the coaches poll this week, and earned a season-high 16 points in the Jan. 18 poll, their highest regular-season tally in poll history (Valpo finished ranked #23 in the postseason poll in 1998).
- As of mid-day Sunday, Valpo ranked 39th 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 Sunday, 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 Sunday, Valpo ranked fourth in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- In traditional stats, Valpo ranks seventh nationally in scoring defense (61.0 ppg) and third in field goal percentage defense (37.8%).
- 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 this season - the first time the program has done that in one season since the 1946-47 campaign.
- Anchoring the defense is senior center Vashil Fernandez, who owns a school-record 264 career blocked shots.
Crashing the Glass
- Combined with their stellar defense has been a tremendous effort on the glass, as Valpo currently ranks sixth nationally with a +9.8 rebound margin.
- Valpo’s +31 advantage at Youngstown State was its best against a Division I opponent in at least two decades.
- The Crusaders held the advantage on the glass in 17 of 18 Horizon League games, including a double-figure advantage 11 times.
- Valpo finished league play with an average edge on the boards of +12.9, while Alec Peters (9.2 rpg) and Vashil Fernandez (8.4 rpg) ranked 2-4 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 101-55 (.647) 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 65-19 (.774) 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 264 total blocks), Fernandez also is 14th in Crusader history with 637 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters moved up anothher spot on Valpo’s career scoring chart last time out, surpassing Bruce Lindner for seventh place in program history - Peters now has scored 1,546 career points, 45 shy of Ryan Broekhoff for sixth position.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.8%), fourth in 3-pointers made (217), eighth in free throw % (82.2%) and 11th in rebounding (649).
- 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 272 career assists.
- With his five blocks last time out, Fernandez has 94 blocks this season - second on the single-season charts, behind only his 98-block mark from last year.
- Peters has now hit 77 3-pointers this season, ninth-most in a single season in program history.