#rv/-- Valparaiso (8-2, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #11 - Saturday, Dec. 17 - 7 p.m.
Indiana State (5-5, 0-0 Missouri Valley)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team returns home to the ARC on Saturday evening to begin its final stretch of non-league contests. The Crusaders will kick off the three-game homestand against in-state foe Indiana State as they look to remain unbeaten on their home court this season.
Last Time Out: In a tie game with the clock ticking down in Springfield, Mo. Saturday night, senior Alec Peters came up with the big play, drawing a foul on a 3-point attempt with 5.6 seconds remaining and knocking down all three free throws for the final margin in the Crusaders’ 84-81 victory over Missouri State. The final play capped a 27-point, 11-rebound effort for Peters, while Tevonn Walker scored a season-best 21 points in the win.
Following the Crusaders: Video – ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Analyst)
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)]
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich is in 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: One of the most common opponents in program history, the Crusaders have met their in-state rivals from Terre Haute on 80 occasions. The Sycamores own a 50-30 advantage in the all-time series, but last season, it was Valpo which came out on top, as the Crusaders earned a 69-63 road win. Alec Peters and E. Victor Nickerson tied for team-high honors with 15 points, with all 15 of Nickerson’s points coming in the second half.
...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.
...notes from Missouri State
- For the third time in the last five games, Valpo won by three points as an opponent’s last-second 3-point attempt was off the mark.
- Alec Peters registered his fourth double-double of the year with 27 points and 11 rebounds. The senior scored 12 points in the game’s final 5:20.
- Peters moved into third place in program history in career 3-pointers made with 246, surpassing Lubos Barton.
- Tevonn Walker scored a season-best 21 points, including four 3-pointers.
- Four starters scored in double figures, while Jaume Sorolla made his first career start and finished with six points.
- Head coach Matt Lottich shortened his rotation to just six players in the second half. Williams, Sorolla and Peters each played the entire final 20 minutes.
- Valpo out-rebounded the Bears, 35-27, and scored 15 second-chance points to Missouri State’s nine.
- The win was the Crusaders’ first true road victory of the season.
...notes from #6/7 Kentucky
- The game against the Wildcats was Valpo’s third in the season’s first nine games against a top-25 team.
- Valpo went scoreless for an eight-minute stretch in the first half, going 0-for-14 from the floor as Kentucky went on a 21-0 run.
- The Crusaders finished the game shooting just 34.3% from the floor and 4-of-15 from the 3-point line, while Kentucky shot 45.8% and 30.4%, respectively.
- Alec Peters led the Crusaders with 23 points, 16 of which came in the second half, to continue his streak of scoring at least 20 in every game.
- Jaume Sorolla enjoyed the best game of his young career, contributing eight points and nine rebounds – seven of which came on the offensive end.
- While the Crusaders were out-rebounded by one of the nation’s best rebounding teams in Kentucky, 48-41, they did grab 18 offensive rebounds and convert them into 19 second-chance points.
- Valpo will conclude non-league action with three consecutive home games, the second of which comes Dec. 22 as the Crusaders host Santa Clara.
- Following Christmas, the Crusaders close out the non-league slate by welcoming Chicago State to the ARC on Dec. 28.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 17 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC during the 2016-17 season and is already 5-0 at home this season.
- The Crusaders set a program record last year with 17 home victories, posting a 17-1 mark.
- Valpo has recorded a 37-2 record in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- 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-plus years, the Crusaders own a 272-58 (.824) record on their home court at the ARC.
- The Sycamores enter Saturday’s matchup at 5-5 this year, most recently falling at home 77-59 to Western Kentucky.
- Indiana State owns a home win over nationally-ranked Butler this year, while four of its five losses have been by three points or fewer.
- Brenton Scott leads the Sycamores, averaging 19.5 points per game, while Everett Clemons adds eight points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest.
20 Or More Every Time Out
- Alec Peters has scored 20 or more points in each of Valpo’s 10 games this season, easily the longest streak of 20+ point games in recent Crusader history.
- Dating back to the 1994-95 season, Peters owns the two longest streaks of 20+ point games - he scored 20 or more in seven straight outings late last year.
- The longest streak of 20+ point games by somebody other than Peters in that span is five consecutive games - Bryce Drew (1996-97) and Dan Oppland (2004-05).
- The most games with 20 or more points in a single season in that span came in 2004-05, as Oppland scored at least 20 points on 18 occasions.
- Drew and Peters are the only Crusaders in that span with three separate seasons scoring 20+ points in at least 10 games.
Glance at the Rankings
- The Crusaders are receiving votes in the AP top-25 poll this week.
- Valpo picked up a season-high nine points from three different voters in the AP poll, one week after earning seven points from four different voters.
- The Crusaders have already received votes in the coaches poll twice this season as well.
- Last season saw Valpo reach program high-water marks in both polls on Jan. 18, when it received 30 points in the AP poll and 16 in the coaches poll.
- As of the end of games Thursday night, the Crusaders sat at a season-best #32 nationally in RPI.
Playing All 20 Minutes
- With a short bench last Saturday, head coach Matt Lottich played Alec Peters, Jaume Sorolla and Lexus Williams all 20 minutes in the second half of the win over Missouri State.
- It was the first time in Sorolla’s career he had played an entire half, while it was the third time for Williams and the 23rd time for Peters (five times this year).
- The last time three Crusaders played the entirety of a single half came in the 2012 NIT at Miami, when Will Bogan, Ryan Broekhoff and Erik Buggs all played the entire second half.
Rematches From Last Season
- Saturday’s matchup with Indiana State is the sixth of seven non-league games the Crusaders will have against opponents they played last season.
- Valpo has already rematched with Oregon, Ball State, BYU, Rhode Island and Missouri State from last year’s schedule.
- The Crusaders have avenged last season’s loss to Ball State, while defeating BYU, Rhode Island and Missouri State both years.
- The Crusaders’ final rematch will come Dec. 28 versus Chicago State.
Beating Ranked Teams
- Valpo snapped a 40-game winless streak against nationally-ranked opposition on Nov. 29 with the win over Rhode Island.
- The Crusaders had not taken down a top-25 opponent since their win over Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
- Prior to the win over the Rams, Valpo had not earned a home win over a top-25 team since beating Notre Dame in December of 1988.
Starting on a Winning Note
- Head coach Matt Lottich became the first Crusader coach in 36 years to open his head coaching tenure at Valpo with a win with the victory over SUU.
- Tom Smith was the last Valpo head coach to start his Crusader career with a win, winning three straight in six days at home to open the 1980-81 campaign.
- The Drews all faced tough competition in their head coaching debuts at Valpo: Homer at Butler, Scott at eventual national champion Syracuse, and Bryce at Arizona.
- Lottich was the first coach to start his Valpo career with a 7-1 record since Wilbur Allen started off the 1949-50 season by winning seven of the season’s first eight games.
Peters’ Hot Start
- 10 games into the season, Alec Peters has scored at least 20 points in every game and is averaging 25.3 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 9.2 rebounds/game and has recorded four double-doubles - he has recorded at least eight rebounds in nine of Valpo’s 10 games.
- No college basketball player has averaged at least 25 points and nine rebounds per game for a full season since the 2007-08 campaign.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week twice this season, giving him seven career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into second place in program history and is now 15th in Horizon League history in career scoring with 1,935 career points.
- Peters currently ranks second among all active players in career scoring, while his 115 consecutive games started is best among all D-I players.
- For a full list of where Peters currently ranks in Horizon League and Valpo history, see the box on page four of the notes.
Addition to the Trophy Case
- Valpo’s wins over Alabama and BYU gave the Crusaders the Heavyweight championship belt at the Men Who Speak Up Main Event.
- The title is the program’s fourth in-season championship in the last seven years.
- Valpo most recently earned the championship trophy in November 2014 at the Challenge in Music City.
- The Crusaders took home top honors in November 2010 at the Las Vegas Invitational and in December 2010 at the Lou Henson Award Tournament.
Wins Over Power Conference Foes
- Valpo’s win over Alabama marked its third over a power conference opponent in the last two seasons.
- The Crusaders went on the road to beat Oregon State last season and then took down Florida State at the ARC in the second round of the NIT.
- Prior to last season’s win over Oregon State, Valpo had not defeated a team from the power-5 conferences since winning at Washington in the 2008 CBI.
- Nine out of Valpo’s last 12 victories over opponents out of the power-5 conferences have come on neutral courts.
- Valpo won each of its first three games of the season by double figures, a feat not accomplished by a Crusader squad in nearly 50 years.
- The last Valpo team to earn double-digit wins in the season’s first three games was the 1967-68 team, which earned wins over Saint Procopius (110-85), Hope (79-61) and Carthage (89-68).
- Already this season, the Crusaders have earned a pair of double-figure come-from-behind wins.
- Valpo trailed in the first half versus Trinity Christian by 16 points and BYU by 12 points.
- In the last two seasons, Valpo had only overcome a double-digit deficit on two occasions.
- The come-from-behind win over Trinity Christian was the Crusaders’ largest deficit overcome since rallying from 22 points down in the second half at Detroit in January of 2013.
A Look at the Record Book
- Lexus Williams matched the program’s single-game steals record with seven against Trinity Christian.
- Williams tied a record previously shared by Milo Stovall (Dec. 12, 1999 - Texas A&M-CC) and Bryce Drew (Dec. 7, 1996 - Milwaukee).
- Meanwhile, Alec Peters attempted 29 shots versus the Trolls - the most by a Crusader in at least 22 years.
- Valpo matched a program record as a team with a perfect performance at the foul line at Oregon, going 14-of-14 from the charity stripe.
- The Crusaders’ 17 steals against Ball State as a team were third-most all-time, just two shy of the record of 19 (vs. Centenary, 12/10/88).
- Williams picked up six steals against the Cardinals, tied for fourth-most in a game by a single player.
- 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 in their first season of eligibility for the Crusaders this year.
- 7’2” Derrik Smits has taken the court this season 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 still received 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 entered the season receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches poll.
- Valpo was ranked #51 on CBS Sports’ ranking of all Division I teams, and began 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 entered the 2016-17 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 and the Wooden Award, both of which are awarded 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 Lut 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 Pair During Early Signing Period
- Valpo has signed 6’7” forward Parker Hazen from Columbia City (Ind.) H.S. and 6’8” forward Mileek McMillan from Merrillville (Ind.) H.S. to NLIs 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.
- McMillan averaged nearly seven rebounds per game as a junior for a Merrillville team which went 22-2.
- McMillan stood out at the Indiana Top 80 camp in early October, as he was named the camp’s Mr. Defender.
- 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.