Valparaiso (12-4, 2-1 Horizon)
Game #17 - Thursday, Jan. 12 - 6:45 p.m. CT
at Youngstown State (8-9, 2-2 Horizon)
Beeghly Center (6,300) - Youngstown, Ohio
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team takes its first overnight road trip in over a month this weekend, as the Crusaders make the Horizon League swing through northeast Ohio. The trip starts off with a matchup at Youngstown State Thursday evening at 6:45 p.m. CT.
Last Time Out: Valpo got back on the winning track Sunday afternoon at the ARC, putting together one of its best offensive performances of the year in an 81-74 victory over Detroit Mercy. Senior Shane Hammink matched his career high with 23 points. Junior Tevonn Walker and senior Alec Peters both posted double-doubles, while Peters also matched Bryce Drew’s Valpo record for career field goals made with his final basket of the game.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)] - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (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 has dominated the all-time series with the Penguins, as the Crusaders own a 33-9 advantage over YSU - including a sterling 17-2 mark versus the Penguins since joining the Horizon League prior to the 2007-08 campaign. Valpo has won seven straight in the series, including the last three matchups at the Beeghly Center. Last season, the Crusaders rolled twice versus YSU, winning 96-65 in Youngstown and 97-68 in Valparaiso. Alec Peters combined to score 36 points in just 35 minutes over the two games, while Vashil Fernandez recorded a double-double in each victory.
...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 Detroit Mercy
- The Crusaders took full advantage of 31 fouls called against the Titans, going 33-for-42 (78.6%) from the foul line for the game. The number of makes from the foul line tied a season high.
- Both Shane Hammink (14-of-15) and Tevonn Walker (12-of-14) set new career highs for free throws made.
- Valpo only had 42 field goal attempts, easily its fewest as a team this season, but went 22-of-42 (52.4%) from the floor – including a sterling 18-for-27 (66.7%) mark from inside the 3-point line.
- Hammink matched his career high with 23 points for the fourth time this year, while Walker joined him above the 20-point threshold with 21 points – his third 20-point effort of the season.
- Walker also set a season best with 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the year and tallied a new career high with five steals.
- Despite taking just nine shots from the floor, Alec Peters totaled 17 points (7-9 FG) and 11 rebounds for his seventh consecutive double-double. The senior also added four assists for the third time in the last four games.
...notes from Oakland
- The Crusaders shot just 36.2% from the field – 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.
- Valpo concludes its two-game road trip Saturday afternoon at Cleveland State.
- The Crusaders then return home to the ARC for four consecutive home games running through the end of the month.
...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 the non-league schedule and currently sits at 2-2 in true road action this year.
- The Penguins enter Thursday night’s game at 8-9 overall this year and 2-2 in Horizon League play, most recently winning last weekend at Wright State.
- YSU scores better than 77 points per game as a team, but surrenders over 81 points per game.
- Preseason First Team All-League honoree Cameron Morse paces YSU with 21.9 ppg, while Francisco Santiago adds 13.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of Wednesday, Valpo ranked third nationally as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.2% 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’ 91.7% clip.
- Through 16 games, Valpo has made 15 more free throws (316) than its opponents have attempted (301).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in nine games this year.
- Last time out, Valpo matched its season high with 33 made free throws.
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 103-56 (.648) 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.
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 tied Bryce Drew’s career field goals made record (696) with his final make Sunday, and will break the mark with his first basket versus YSU.
- Peters is also just 73 points shy of Drew’s career scoring record (2,142) and 39 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 34 shy of Eckart’s mark of 452 makes from the stripe.
Peters’ Hot Start
- Peters is averaging 24.2 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.4 rebounds/game and has recorded 10 double-doubles - he has recorded at least nine rebounds in 15 of Valpo’s 16 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 Tuesday night, Peters was fourth nationally in free throws made, eighth in field goals made, sixth in double-doubles, 15th in free throw percentage and 19th 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 2,069 career points.
- Peters currently ranks second among all active players in career scoring, while his 121 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.
- 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.
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.