Valparaiso (10-3, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #14 - Friday, Dec. 30 - 4 p.m.
at UIC (7-6, 0-0 Horizon)
UIC Pavilion (8,000) - Chicago, Ill.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team opens Horizon League play in front of a national television audience Friday afternoon as the Crusaders make the short jaunt to Chicago to face off with UIC on ESPNU. Valpo has won the last 15 meetings in the series with the Flames.
Last Time Out: Alec Peters needed just 33 seconds to reach the 2,000 point milestone for his career on Wednesday night at the ARC, scoring the game’s first basket, and the Crusaders never trailed in an 80-61 victory over Chicago State. Peters finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Shane Hammink paced the Crusaders with 22 points.
Following the Crusaders: TV - ESPNU - Jordan Bernfield (PxP) and Brooke Weisbrod (Analyst) - Available online on WatchESPN and the ESPN app
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)] - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Analyst)
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: UIC leads the all-time series against the Crusaders, 29-25, but Valpo owns a 16-3 advantage in the series since joining the Horizon League. In fact, the Crusaders have won 15 consecutive meetings with the Flames and haven’t lost to UIC since February of 2009. Last season saw Valpo claim a pair of victories over the Flames, winning 75-47 at the ARC and 73-55 in Chicago. Alec Peters averaged 13.5 points and eight rebounds in the pair of wins, while Vashil Fernandez tallied 14 points, 22 rebounds and 12 blocks over the two victories.
...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 Chicago State
- The Crusaders never trailed in the win, as they limited CSU to just 3-of-26 shooting to open the game - pulling out to a 20-point lead late in the first half.
- Alec Peters fell short of scoring 20 points for the first time this season, finishing with 15 points. He did dish out a season-high four assists and pulled down a game-best 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the campaign.
- Shane Hammink led the Crusaders in scoring for the second time this season, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. The senior also handed out five assists while committing just one turnover.
- Lexus Williams tied his season high and finished one shy of his career high with a game-best seven assists. As a team, the Crusaders handed out 23 assists on 27 made field goals.
- With fellow freshman Jaume Sorolla traveling back from Spain, freshman Derrik Smits made his first career start and tallied seven points, three rebounds and a blocked shot.
- Valpo shot 51.9% (27-of-52) from the floor for the game, finishing above the 50% mark for just the second time this year. The Crusaders also connected on 9-of-19 (47.4%) of their 3-point attempts.
- The Crusaders finished with a season-high 23 assists on their 27 made field goals.
...notes from Santa Clara
- The Crusaders had a streak of 20 consecutive non-league home victories snapped. Valpo’s last home loss outside of league play came to New Mexico in December of 2014.
- The game was Valpo’s first overtime affair at the ARC since falling to Mercer in triple overtime in November of 2013.
- Peters finished with 35 points in a career-high 50 minutes, not coming off the floor for a single second. The senior was 12-of-28 from the floor and made a season-best six 3-pointers. He also grabbed 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the year.
- Hammink joined Peters in playing the entire 50 minutes on Thursday night. The senior matched his career high for the third time this season by scoring 23 points, doing so on 8-of-12 shooting.
- The Crusaders were limited to just four second-chance points on six offensive rebounds and four bench points.
- The Crusaders return home next weekend to host Oakland on Friday, Jan. 6 (an ESPN2 broadcast) and Detroit Mercy on Sunday, Jan. 8 (an American Sports Network broadcast).
...on the road
- Valpo enters this season having posted a winning record in true road games three of the last four years, after having not done so the previous 10 seasons.
- Last year, the Crusaders posted a 12-4 record in true road games - including an 8-1 mark on the road in Horizon League play.
- This year’s team had just three true road games on the slate during non-league action and posted a 1-2 mark in those games, losing at Oregon and Kentucky while winning at Missouri State.
- The Flames enter Horizon League play with a 7-6 mark on the season and are 5-2 at the UIC Pavilion this year.
- UIC has won three of its last four games, with its only blemish in that stretch an overtime loss to city rival Loyola.
- Preseason All-League honoree Dikembe Dixson is sidelined due to injury. Tai Odiase leads the Flames’ active players with 12.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
- Alec Peters needed just 33 seconds to score against Chicago State, becoming the second player in program history to reach 2,000 career points, joining Bryce Drew - who reached the mark Feb. 23, 1998 against UMKC.
- While Peters needed 118 games to reach the milestone as compared to 115 for Drew, Peters reached the mark in 3,669 minutes while Drew reached 2,000 points in 4,025 minutes of action.
- Peters and Drew both scored their second 1,000 points in exactly 50 games.
- Peters also became just the 11th player in Horizon League history to reach the 2,000-point milestone for his career.
Peters’ Hot Start
- 13 games into the season, Alec Peters has scored at least 20 points in all but one game and is averaging 25.5 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.3 rebounds/game and has recorded seven double-doubles - he has recorded at least nine rebounds in 12 of Valpo’s 13 games.
- No college basketball player has averaged at least 26 points and 10 rebounds per game for a full season since Michael Beasley did so for Kansas State in 2007-08.
- Entering the Chicago State game, Peters ranked fourth nationally in both field goals and free throws made, 11th in free throw percentage, 19th in double-doubles and 30th in rebounding.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week three times this season, giving him eight career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into second place in program history and is now 10th in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,014 career points - just 24 points out of seventh position.
- Peters currently ranks second among all active players in career scoring, while his 118 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.
20 Or More Points
- Alec Peters scored 20 or more points in each of Valpo’s first 12 games this season, easily the longest streak of 20+ point games in recent Crusader history.
- Peters was held below the 20-point mark for the first time this year last time out against Chicago State, finishing with 15 points.
- 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.
- Senior Shane Hammink has enjoyed a strong run of form over the last four games entering Horizon League play.
- Hammink has scored at least 15 points in all four games, including a game-high 22 points last time out in the win over Chicago State.
- Over that stretch, Hammink is averaging 19 points per game and hitting at a 62.8% clip from the field.
- After hitting just two of his first 22 3-point attempts of the year, Hammink has connected on eight of his last 18 from downtown.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- Valpo ranks among the nation’s best free throw shooting teams heading into league play, hitting at a 79.6% clip from the foul line this season.
- Four of the Crusaders’ top five players in free throw attempts are connecting at 74.4% or better from the foul line, led by Alec Peters’ 92.9% clip.
- Through 13 games, Valpo has made just one fewer free throw (246) than its opponents have attempted (247).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in seven games this year.
Closing Out the Calendar Year
- The Crusaders are looking for their 31st win of the 2016 calendar year on Friday, as they have posted a 30-7 record since January 1st.
- Alec Peters and Shane Hammink are the only Valpo players to have played in all 37 games this year.
- Peters enters Friday’s game just nine points away from finishing the 2016 calendar year with 800 points.
- A win on Friday would bookend the year with victories over UIC, as Valpo beat the Flames at the ARC on January 2.
- The Crusaders enter league play with at least 10 victories under their belt for the fourth time in the last five years following Wednesday’s victory.
- Valpo owns a 51-19 (.729) record in pre-league action since the Horizon League eliminated the early December league weekend prior to the 2012-13 season.
- This is the second straight year that Valpo has entered league play with a 10-3 record in the pre-league campaign.
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 their first 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.
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.
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.
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. Peters then tossed up 28 shots against Santa Clara.
- 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.