#rv/-- Valparaiso (27-6, 16-2 Horizon)
Game #34 - Thursday, March 17 - 6 p.m.
Florida State (20-13, 8-10 ACC)
Second Round - 2016 Postseason NIT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Fresh off its first win in the NIT in program history, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday evening at the ARC as the top-seeded Crusaders host fourth-seeded Florida State at 6 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPNews.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team earned its first postseason win since 2008 and the program’s first victory ever in the Postseason NIT on Tuesday evening, leading start to finish at the ARC in an 84-73 victory over Texas Southern. Senior Vashil Fernandez tied his own program record with eight blocked shots in the winning effort, while junior Alec Peters led the way offensively, scoring 28 points.
Following the Crusaders: TV – ESPNews – 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 (121-48) 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: Thursday marks just the second meeting in program history between Valparaiso and Florida State, but the only other matchup was a special one in Crusader lore, as Valpo downed the Seminoles in overtime, 83-77, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Bill Jenkins split a pair of free throws with 30.5 seconds to play to send the game to overtime, where the Crusaders out-scored FSU, 8-2. Bryce Drew led four Valpo players in double figures with 22 points, while Kerry Thompson and Randell Jackson paced the Seminoles with 16 points each.
...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 Texas Southern NIT game
- The Crusaders never trailed on Tuesday night, taking the lead for good 30 seconds into the game.
- Vashil Fernandez matched his own single-game blocked shots record with eight rejections, surpassing his own single-season record in the process as well.
- Fernandez approached a triple-double on Tuesday, finishing with eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds in addition to his eight blocks.
- Alec Peters paced Valpo with 28 points, his fifth straight effort of at least 20 points.
- Valpo won despite getting out-rebounded 39-35, just the second time this year the Crusaders have come out victorious when being out-rebounded.
- The Crusaders finished with 16 assists against just seven turnovers - Keith Carter and Shane Hammink led the way with five assists apiece, the latter matching a season high.
- Carter set a season best as well by scoring 17 points, his sixth consecutive game in double figures.
...at the ARC
- Valpo had 15 regular season home games scheduled for the Athletics-Recreation Center in 2015-16 and is now 15-1 at home this year following Tuesday’s win over Texas Southern.
- The Crusaders had their school-record 25-game home winning streak snapped Feb. 13 against Wright State - the winning streak dated back to Dec. 2014.
- Valpo has been 15-1 at the ARC each of the last two years - 15 wins is the second-most home wins in a single season since the building opened, while the .938 home winning percentage is also the second-best in ARC history.
- Over the last 21 years, the Crusaders own a 265-58 (.820) winning percentage on their home court.
- Florida State enters Thursday night’s second-round game at 20-13 overall and went 8-10 in ACC play this year.
- The Seminoles claimed an 84-74 victory over Davidson in Tallahassee Tuesday evening in the opening round of the NIT.
- FSU freshman guard Dwayne Bacon leads the team, averaging 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
- Fellow rookie guard Malik Beasley adds 15.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Seminoles.
Crusader Postseason History
- In its third NIT appearance (2003, 2012), the Crusaders earned their first win in the tournament with Tuesday’s win over Texas Southern.
- Valpo previously lost at Iowa in 2003 and lost at Miami in 2012.
- The Crusaders’ last postseason victory prior to Tuesday came in the first round of the 2008 CBI, when Valpo won at Washington.
- With a win over Florida State Thursday, the Crusaders would win two postseason games in the same year for the fourth time in program history.
- Valpo most famously won twice to reach the Sweet Sixteen of the 1998 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, and also won two games apiece in the 1962 and 1967 NCAA College Division Championships.
Back in the Postseason
- 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 has appeared 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.
- 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 month of the season.
- Over the last four weeks, Peters has posted five double-doubles in seven games and is averaging 24.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game on .546/.468/.860 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 efforts over the last seven games, 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.
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 274 total blocks), Fernandez also ranks 12th in Crusader history with 651 career rebounds.
- Matching his single-game block record with eight rejections last time out, Fernandez also surpassed his own single-season blocked shots record and now has 104 blocks this season.
- Meanwhile, Peters passed Ryan Broekhoff for sixth place in Valpo history in career scoring last time out and enters Thursday’s game with 1,606 career points - just 15 points shy of Raitis Grafs for fifth position.
- Peters also ranks second in 3-point % (43.6%), fourth in 3-pointers made (223), seventh in free throw % (82.5%) and 10th in rebounding (668).
- In addition, senior Keith Carter moved into Valpo’s all-time top-20 in assists at UIC and now ranks 17th in Crusader history with 282 career assists.
- Peters has scored 603 points this year, fifth-most in a year in program history - just 10 shy of Bryce Drew’s senior year (fourth) and 14 shy of Drew’s junior season (third).
- He has already grabbed 277 rebounds as well, good for eighth in a single year, and has hit 83 3-pointers, tied for sixth-most in a single season.
- Carter cracked the single-season top-10 for steals as well last time out and now has 52 steals on the year, tied for ninth in a single season - he has also dished out 142 assists, just one shy of the top-10 in that category.
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 over Texas Southern on Tuesday was Valpo’s 27th of the season, just the second time in program history the Crusaders have won at least 27 games.
- Last year’s squad won a school-record 28 wins, finishing the year with a 28-6 overall record.
- Valpo enters Thursday’s game with 27 wins, one of just 14 programs in the nation with 27 or more victories as of Tuesday’s final scores.
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 (+13.5)
- Overall rebounding average, 41.8, 1990-91 Dayton (41.8)
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 Tuesday, Valpo ranked 48th 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, Valpo ranks #38 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, Valpo ranked 16th in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency.
- In traditional stats, Valpo ranks ninth nationally in scoring defense (62.5 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage defense (38.3%).
- 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 274 career blocked shots.
Crashing the Glass
- Combined with their stellar defense has been a tremendous effort on the glass, as Valpo currently ranks seventh nationally with a +9.5 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.