#--/rv Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #1 - Friday, Nov. 11 - 7 p.m.
Southern Utah (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Game #2 - Saturday, Nov. 12 - 7 p.m.
Trinity Christian (0-2, 0-0 CCAC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The lid lifts on the 2016-17 regular season for the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team with a busy slate this weekend. The season opens Friday evening against Southern Utah before the Crusaders take on Trinity Christian just 24 hours later. Prior to Friday’s game, the program will be unveiling banners commemorating the 2015-16 Horizon League regular season title and the appearance in the 2016 NIT championship game.
Last Time Out: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team kicked off the 2016-17 season at the ARC last Saturday with its lone exhibition game of the year, defeating Hillsdale by a 78-63 final as senior Alec Peters led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds. A 10-2 spurt late in the first half pushed a four-point lead into double figures at halftime, and Valpo maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Following the Crusaders: Video – ESPN3/WatchESPN/ESPN app – Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Analyst) and David Horak (Sidelines [Friday])
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich begins his first season at the helm of the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program in 2016-17 after being named the 22nd head coach in program history on April 7. Lottich previously served as an assistant coach for the last three seasons, helping Valpo earn 78 victories - including a school-record 30 last season - and a pair of Horizon League regular season titles.
Series Notes: Friday’s matchup with the Thunderbirds renews a series that spanned a decade (1997-2007) when both Southern Utah and Valparaiso were members of the Mid-Continent Conference. Valpo holds a 16-7 advantage in the all-time series over SUU, including a perfect 10-0 mark at home at the ARC. Meanwhile, the Crusaders match up with Trinity Christian in regular season action for a second straight season - last year saw Valpo take down the Trolls by an 89-42 final on Nov. 19, 2015, led by 20 points and 10 rebounds from Darien Walker.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo was picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 35 of the 39 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last six years.
- Senior Alec Peters was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year, Valpo’s first league preseason player of the year since Lubos Barton (2001-02, Mid-Con).
- Senior Shane Hammink joined Peters as a preseason All-League choice, earning a spot on the Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- The 2015-16 Crusader squad won a school-record 30 games, finishing the year 30-7.
- Valpo claimed the Horizon League regular season title by going 16-2 in league play, winning the league by three games.
- The Crusaders were the first Horizon League team to win the league title by at least three games since 2009-10.
- The regular season title was Valpo’s fourth in a five-year span, a feat accomplished only by Butler and Xavier previously within the league.
- Valpo set new Horizon League records in league-only play for scoring margin, rebounds, rebounding average and rebound margin.
- The Crusaders received an automatic bid into the NIT and were awarded a 1 seed as one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament.
- Valpo defeated Texas Southern, Florida State and Saint Mary’s at the ARC to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- The Crusaders beat BYU in a thriller at MSG before falling in the championship game of the NIT to George Washington.
- Vashil Fernandez led the nation in blocked shots, was named National Defensive Player of the Year and repeated as Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
- Alec Peters was an AP Honorable Mention All-American and earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team for a second straight year.
- Bryce Drew repeated as Horizon League Coach of the Year.
...in the exhibition
- Valpo won its lone exhibition game at the ARC last Saturday, downing Hillsdale 78-63.
- The Crusaders took the lead for good with a 13-1 run midway through the first half, and pushed the lead into double figures with a 10-2 spurt late in the half.
- Alec Peters led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds, hitting both his 3-point attempts and going 10-of-11 from the foul line.
- Jubril Adekoya went 5-for-7 from the field in just 15 minutes to finish with 13 points, while Tevonn Walker added 10 points and eight rebounds.
- Walk-on senior Jason Karys, who served as a team manager his first three years on campus, thrilled the crowd by making a late 3-pointer just nine seconds after entering the game.
- Valpo shot just 40.3% from the field and was just 6-of-21 from 3-point range, but did hit 18-of-22 from the free throw stripe.
- The Crusaders limited Hillsdale to 32.1% shooting for the game.
- Valpo also competed in a closed scrimmage at Northern Illinois during preseason action as well.
- Valpo closes out a quick three-game homestand to open the season on Monday evening as the Crusaders host Coppin State.
- The Crusaders then play three straight away from home, starting with a game at Oregon on Thursday night.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 17 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC during the 2016-17 season.
- The Crusaders set a program record last year with 17 home victories, posting a 17-1 mark.
- Valpo has recorded a 32-2 record in home games over the last two seasons.
- The Crusaders had a program-record 25-game home winning streak snapped Feb. 13 against Wright State, a streak which dated back to Dec. 2014.
- Over the last 21 years, the Crusaders own a 267-58 (.822) record on their home court at the ARC.
...in home openers
- Valpo has won its home opener each of the last 11 seasons, including 10 victories by double figures.
- Last season, the Crusaders took down IPFW by a 78-64 final in their home opener, led by 24 points and seven rebounds from Alec Peters.
- The last time Valpo lost a home opener was Nov. 27, 2004, falling to Charlotte 85-71.
- Southern Utah finished last season with a 5-24 overall record and is under the guidance of first-year head coach Todd Simon.
- The Thunderbirds broke the century mark in both of their exhibition victories, winning 110-86 over The Master’s University and 103-89 over La Verne.
- Randy Onwuasor, a transfer from Texas Tech who sat out last season, averaged 34 points per game in SUU’s two exhibition wins.
- Coming off of a 9-21 season, Trinity Christian has fallen in a pair of games by a combined four points to start this year.
- Senior swingman Jordan Perry has led the Trolls in the early going, averaging 23 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
- Trinity Christian will play at Cardinal Stritch Friday evening before making its way to the ARC on Saturday.
Quick Start to the Season
- Home fans have plenty of chances to catch the Crusaders early on this season, as Valpo opens the year with three home games in four days.
- This is the second straight season Valpo has had a lot of games early on, as last year’s squad opened the year with five games in the first seven days - including a round trip to Rhode Island.
- Last year’s team was the first D-I team in the nation to reach four and five wins, as the Crusaders won all five in the opening stretch.
- The Crusaders welcome back eight letterwinners from last season’s 30-win squad, including a pair of starters in Alec Peters and Tevonn Walker.
- In all, Valpo returns 50% of its minutes played, 57.1% of its scoring and 47.5% of its rebounding from last year.
- Five players are entering their first season of eligibility for the Crusaders this year.
- 7’2” Derrik Smits will take the court for the first time after redshirting last season due to injury.
- 6’11” Spaniard Jaume Sorolla, who most recently helped the Spain U20 squad win the 2016 FIBA U20 European Championship, and guard Micah Bradford, ranked among the top-20 players in the state of Illinois, join Valpo as scholarship freshmen.
- The Crusaders also welcome a pair of walk-ons in senior Jason Karys - a three-year team manager - and freshman John Kiser.
High Praise Entering the Year
- Despite losing nearly half their scoring from last year’s squad, this year’s Crusader team is still receiving quite a bit of national love entering the year.
- Valpo has been a near-unanimous choice to win the Horizon League among national media projections.
- The Crusaders enter the season receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches poll.
- Valpo was ranked #51 on CBS Sports’ ranking of all Division I teams, and begins the season #69 in the Ken Pomeroy ratings.
- Matt Norlander of CBS Sports named Valpo one of his teams to watch as a potential March sleeper.
Peters Garners Accolades
- Coming off of a season in which he was named an Honorable Mention All-American, Alec Peters enters this season receiving a lot of notice as one of the nation’s top players.
- Peters was tabbed a Third Team preseason All-American by Blue Ribbon Magazine and NBC Sports, among others.
- Peters earned a spot on the watch list for the Naismith Trophy, awarded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the National Player of the Year.
- In rankings of the nation’s top players, Peters ranked #16 on CBS Sports’ list and #29 on NBC Sports’ list.
- Peters is on the Karl Malone Award watch list, awarded to the nation’s top power forward, and also appears on College Insider’s Lutle Olson Award (national Player of the Year) and Lou Henson Award (national mid-major Player of the Year) watch lists.
- Peters topped Mark Adams’ list of best players in leagues covered by the American Sports Network, and was named the #1 most complete player in the nation by Bleacher Report.
- Peters was tabbed the nation’s Best Shooter by a pair of Sports Illustrated college basketball writers in their season preview materials.
The International Flavor
- This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that Valpo has cultivated over the past two decades
- The Crusaders boast four international players on this year’s roster from three different countries.
- Represented are Canada (Joseph and Walker), the Netherlands (Hammink) and Spain (Sorolla).
- Over the past 20 years, the Crusaders have welcomed 32 international players from 19 different countries.
Crusaders Sign Parker Hazen
- Valpo signed 6’7” forward Parker Hazen from Columbia City (Ind.) H.S. to an NLI during the early signing period.
- Hazen enters his senior year ranked #7 in his class in the state of Indiana according to ESPN.
- Hazen was an Indiana Junior All-Star following last season, as he averaged 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in helping the Eagles to their second straight sectional title.
- On the AAU circuit, Hazen has played for the prestigious Spiece Indy Heat program in the Nike EYBL.
- Three members of this year’s Crusader roster boast fathers who played at the highest level of pro basketball - in the NBA.
- Most notably, Derrik Smits’ father, Rik, played 12 seasons with the Indiana Pacers and was an All-Star.
- Chandler Levingston Simon’s father, Cliff Levingston, was an 11-year NBA vet who won two titles with the Chicago Bulls.
- Shane Hammink’s father, Geert, was a 1993 first-round draft pick who played parts of three seasons in the NBA.