Valparaiso (11-4, 1-1 Horizon)
Game #16 - Sunday, Jan. 8 - noon
Detroit Mercy (2-13, 0-3 Horizon)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team faces a quick turnaround as it attempts to split this weekend’s pair of home Horizon League games, matching up with Detroit Mercy Sunday afternoon at noon. The game will be televised live nationally on the American Sports Network, including in the Chicagoland area on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
Last Time Out: A poor shooting night hampered Valpo’s effort Friday night at the ARC in Horizon League play against Oakland, as the Crusaders fell to the Golden Grizzlies by a 78-66 final. The Crusaders never led in the game and shot just 36.2% for the game. Alec Peters (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Jaume Sorolla (11 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles.
Following the Crusaders: TV - American Sports Network - Dave Armstrong (PxP) and Rich Zvosec (Analyst) - Also available online on the ASN website and the WatchESPN 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: Valpo owns a 16-11 advantage in the all-time series over Detroit Mercy, including a 7-5 mark at the ARC over the Titans. Last season, the Crusaders swept the season series from UDM, winning 92-74 in Detroit and 90-74 at the ARC - the latter win clinching the Horizon League regular season title. Alec Peters stood out in last season’s pair of victories, averaging 35.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game over the two wins.
...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 Oakland
- The Crusaders shot just 36.2% from the field Friday night – their third-worst performance from the floor this year – and connected on just three 3-pointers, matching a season low.
- Valpo also committed 16 turnovers which Oakland converted into 18 points.
- Valpo did continue its strong effort from the foul line, going 21-of-24 (87.5%) as a team from the stripe.
- Alec Peters led the way for the Crusaders with his sixth consecutive double-double, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
- Peters was held without a 3-pointer (0-2) for the first time since Ball State.
- Jaume Sorolla scored in double figures for the first time in his career and recorded a double-double, finishing with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
- Valpo would tie the score seven times in the first half, but could never get over the hump to take the lead.
- Leading by four at the half, Oakland scored on each of its first six possessions of the second half, pushing its lead to 53-38.
...notes from UIC
- Tevonn Walker missed just one field goal attempt, finishing 8-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the foul line for his 23 points – his second 20-point effort of the year.
- It was Walker’s first time pacing the Crusaders in the scoring column since dropping 24 in a win at Oakland last season on Jan. 8.
- Despite struggling from the floor, Alec Peters finished with 18 points, thanks in large part to a 7-of-8 effort from the foul line. The senior also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds for his fifth consecutive double-double.
- With his third rebound of the day, Peters moved into second place in program history in career rebounds.
- Derrik Smits finished with a season-high 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting in his second career start. The freshman also pulled down a season-best six rebounds.
- Valpo out-rebounded UIC by a 41-28 margin – the fourth time this year the Crusaders have held a double-figure edge on the glass. 15 of the Crusaders’ boards came on the offensive end, leading to 20 second-chance points.
- The Crusaders, who entered the nation fifth in the nation in free throw percentage, continued their strong effort at the foul line this year. Valpo went 16-of-19 at the charity stripe, including 14-of-15 over the final 20 minutes.
- The win was the Crusaders’ 16th consecutive victory over the Flames, including their eighth straight at the UIC Pavilion.
- The Crusaders hit the road next weekend, traveling to Youngstown State (Thursday) and Cleveland State (Saturday).
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 17 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC during the 2016-17 season and is 7-2 to date 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 39-4 record in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Over the last 21-plus years, the Crusaders own a 274-60 (.820) record on their home court at the ARC.
- The Titans are just 2-13 on the year entering Sunday’s game, having dropped four straight since a win over Western Kentucky.
- Detroit Mercy has lost each of its first three league games by double figures.
- Four Titans average in double figures, led by 14.3 points per game from Jaleel Hogan, but the Titans surrender 84.7 points per game.
Bouncing Back Following Losses
- The Crusaders have proven adept over the last two-plus years in games following a loss.
- Valpo has lost 14 times (not counting the final game of the season) since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, and each time has rebounded with a victory next time out.
- Nine of those 14 wins have come by double figures, including six wins by 20 or more - the Crusaders’ average margin of victory has been 16.5 points.
- Valpo has not suffered back-to-back losses since closing the 2013-14 season with a loss in the HL tournament semifinals and a defeat in the first round of the CIT.
Caution - Falling Records
- Senior Alec Peters is on the verge of breaking the first of a number of Valpo career records over the next few weeks.
- Peters enters Sunday’s game just seven field goals shy of matching Bryce Drew’s Crusader record of 696 makes from the floor.
- Peters is also just 90 points shy of Drew’s career scoring record (2,142) and 50 rebounds shy of Chris Ensminger’s career rebounding record (910).
- The senior is also poised to break Ed Eckart’s 60-year-old record for career free throws made, as he is 36 shy of Eckart’s mark of 452 makes from the stripe.
Peters’ Hot Start
- 15 games into the season, Alec Peters has scored at least 20 points in all but two games and is averaging 24.7 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.4 rebounds/game and has recorded nine double-doubles - he has recorded at least nine rebounds in 14 of Valpo’s 15 games.
- No college basketball player has averaged at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game for a full season since the 2007-08 campaign.
- Following Friday night, Peters was tied for second nationally in free throws made, seventh in field goals made, tied for sixth in double-doubles, 16th in free throw percentage and 20th 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 seventh in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,052 career points.
- Peters currently ranks second among all active players in career scoring, while his 120 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.
- 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 - Peters currently has 13 such efforts this year.
- Drew and Peters are the only Crusaders in that span with three separate seasons scoring 20+ points in at least 10 games.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- Valpo enters Sunday’s game ranked third nationally as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.4% clip from the foul line this season.
- Four of the Crusaders’ top five players in free throw attempts are connecting at 75% or better from the foul line, led by Alec Peters’ 92.4% clip.
- Through 14 games, Valpo has made just nine fewer free throws (283) than its opponents have attempted (292).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in nine games this year.
- The Crusaders entered league play with at least 10 victories under their belt for the fourth time in the last five years following the Chicago State win.
- 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 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 102-56 (.646) in their first nine -plus 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.