Valparaiso (26-6, 16-2 Horizon)
Game #33 - Tuesday, March 15 - 8:15 p.m.
Texas Southern (18-14, 16-2 SWAC)
First Round - 2016 Postseason NIT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team earned a berth into the postseason for the sixth straight year and will appear in the Postseason NIT for the third time in program history, as the Crusaders received a one seed and will host eighth-seeded Texas Southern in first-round action Tuesday evening at the ARC at 8:15 p.m.
Last Time Out: It seemed like destiny would again be on the side of Valparaiso last Monday evening in its Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship semifinal game versus Green Bay in Detroit, Mich., as Jubril Adekoya hit Alec Peters with a 80-foot baseball pass for a game-tying layup with 0.5 seconds to play in regulation. But the Phoenix would prevail in overtime, out-scoring Valpo 20-13 in the extra session as the Crusaders fell 99-92.
Following the Crusaders: Video – ESPN3 – Jordan Bernfield (PxP) and Mark Adams (Color)
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Color) and Tommy Mantice (Sidelines)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (120-48) is in his fifth season at the helm of the Crusader men’s basketball program in 2015-16. In his first five years, Drew has led Valpo to four Horizon League regular season titles, two Horizon League tournament championships and five postseason berths, including a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2012, 2015 and 2016 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: Tuesday will be the first meeting all-time between the Valpo and Texas Southern men’s basketball programs. The Crusaders have played just two current SWAC schools in program history, winning 70-68 over Mississippi Valley State in December of 1986 and defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff last season at Central Michigan’s tournament, 59-46.
...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.
...notes from Green Bay tournament game
- The Crusaders lost in the semifinals of the Horizon League Championship for the first time in their four years as a number one seed in the tournament.
- Valpo forced overtime on an 80-foot baseball pass from Jubril Adekoya to Alec Peters for a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation.
- The Crusaders rallied from down six points with 1:11 to play in regulation to force overtime.
- Peters led Valpo with his fifth double-double in the Crusaders’ last six games, posting 32 points and 12 rebounds.
- Peters matched his career high with 13 made free throws, going 13-of-14 from the foul line.
- Valpo shot just 38.4% from the field and 31% from 3-point range, versus 46.6% and 54.5%, respectively, for Green Bay.
- The Crusaders out-rebounded the Phoenix by a 49-38 margin, pulling down 21 offensive rebounds.
- David Skara returned from injury to record 10 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
Heading to the Postseason Again
- With the Horizon League regular season title, the Crusaders secured a berth in the postseason NIT.
- Valpo was one of the ‘First Four Out’ of the NCAA Tournament, assuring the Crusaders a one seed in the NIT.
- This year is 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.
Crusader Postseason History
- Valpo is looking for its first win in the NIT in its third appearance in the tournament - the Crusaders previously lost at Iowa in 2003 and lost at Miami in 2012.
- The Crusaders’ last postseason victory came in the first round of the 2008 CBI, when Valpo won at Washington.
- Valpo also owns a pair of wins in the 1998 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, and also won postseason games in 1938, 1962 (2), 1966, 1967 (2), 1969 and 1973.
- Valpo clinched a share of the Horizon League league regular season crown with the home win over Oakland, and secured the outright title two days later with the win over Detroit.
- The sweep of the Wisconsin road trip to close the year 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.
Peters Closing With a Flourish
- Junior forward Alec Peters has been at his best for the Crusaders in the last three weeks.
- Over the last three weeks, Peters has posted five double-doubles in six games and is averaging 23.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game on .543/.475/.878 shooting.
- Peters was named a USBWA All-District V honoree - one of just 91 honorees nationwide - and was also a member of the Horizon League All-Tournament Team.
- 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.
- With his last three weeks, Peters has moved into Valpo’s single-season top-10 charts in both scoring and rebounding - the only player in Crusader history to rank in the top-10 in both categories for the same season.
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 won a school-record 28 wins, while the 2012-13 team finished 26-8.
- Valpo enters the postseason with 26 wins, one of just 26 programs in the nation with 26 or more victories through the end of league tournaments.
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 (+13.6)
- Overall rebounding average, 41.8, 1990-91 Dayton (42.1)
- Overall rebounding margin, +10.4, 1989-90 Xavier (+9.9)
Glance at the Rankings
- Valpo received three votes in the AP top-25 poll this week, the eighth time in the last nine weeks the Crusaders have received votes, and have received votes in the coaches top-25 poll seven times.
- The Crusaders have received votes in 10 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 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 Sunday, Valpo ranked 49th 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 Sunday, Valpo ranks #36 in the KenPom ratings, #40 in the KPI ratings and #42 in ESPN’s BPI 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 Sunday, Valpo ranked 10th in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- In traditional stats, Valpo ranks ninth nationally in scoring defense (62.2 ppg) and third in field goal percentage defense (38.1%).
- 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 266 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 +9.9 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 266 total blocks), Fernandez also is tied for 13th in Crusader history with 641 career rebounds.
- Meanwhile, Peters is closing in on sixth place in Valpo history in career scoring, as he enters Tuesday’s game with 1,578 career points - just 13 points behind Ryan Broekhoff.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.6%), fourth in 3-pointers made (220), seventh in free throw % (82.7%) and 11th in rebounding (661, just one shy of Darryl Ashby for 10th).
- 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 277 career assists.
- With his two blocks last time out, Fernandez has 96 blocks this season - second on the single-season charts, behind only his 98-block mark from last year.
- Peters has scored 575 points this year, seventh-most in a year in program history and just two behind Dan Oppland’s 2004-05 campaign for sixth.
- He has already grabbed 270 rebounds as well, good for ninth in a single year, and has hit 80 3-pointers, eighth-most in a single season.
- Carter is just one steal and six assists outside of the respective top-10s in Crusader single-season history as well.