Next Up in Crusader Basketball:The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team takes aim at its longest winning streak in nearly a decade on Thursday evening, as the Crusaders hit the road to face Milwaukee. After playing the last four and six of the last eight at home, Valpo will play on the road for six of its final nine regular season games.
Last Time Out: Valpo found itself in its toughest battle in the last three weeks on Sunday afternoon at the ARC against Northern Kentucky, but came up big when it counted, surrendering just three points to the Norse over the final four and a half minutes in a 65-58 victory. With the win, the Crusaders hit the halfway mark of Horizon League play at 8-1 in league action and with a two-game lead in the loss column in the league standings.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app - Will Haskett (PxP) and Chris Sparks (Analyst)
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 owns a 20-12 advantage in the all-time series with the Panthers, and has a winning record (8-7) over Milwaukee in Milwaukee as well. The Crusaders have dominated the series recently, winning nine of the last ten matchups, including each of their last five true road games with the Panthers. Last season, Valpo earned the series sweep, downing Milwaukee 68-56 at the ARC before earning a hard-fought 80-76 victory in overtime at the UWM Panther Arena.
...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 Northern Kentucky
- Valpo improved to 8-1 in Horizon League play with the win, moving two games up in the loss column on Green Bay, which fell at Detroit Mercy on Sunday. The Crusaders are also three games up in the loss column on a tie for third place.
- The win was the Crusaders’ first by single digits since their 81-74 triumph over Detroit Mercy on Jan. 8, snapping a streak of five consecutive double-figure wins.
- Shane Hammink paced Valpo with 21 points on Sunday, his seventh effort of at least 20 points of the year and second in the last three games.
- Alec Peters struggled through a rough shooting day, but did go 6-of-7 from the foul line in finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the year.
- Freshman Micah Bradford set a new season best by knocking down three 3-pointers in a nine-point effort.
- Led by Peters and Tevonn Walker (season-high 11 rebounds), the Crusaders out-rebounded one of the nation’s top rebounding teams in NKU by 15 (44-29).
- The Crusaders did continue their strong effort at the foul line, hitting 80% (12-of-15).
...notes from Wright State
- Wright State had won four of the last six games in the series before Friday’s victory. The 15-point win marked Valpo’s largest win over the Raiders since joining the Horizon League.
- With the win, the Crusaders remain one game up in the loss column on Green Bay for first place in the Horizon League. Valpo is now three losses clear of a multi-way tie for third place.
- Alec Peters finished with a game-high 25 points and leading Valpo with 14 rebounds. The senior went 10-of-11 from the foul line and also handed out four assists against just one turnover.
- Shane Hammink and Tevonn Walker joined Peters in double figures, finishing with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Hammink matched his career high with three makes from 3-point range, while Walker added six rebounds as well.
- The Crusaders continued their season-long dominance at the foul line, hitting their final 12 attempts of the game as they went 17-of-20 from the charity stripe.
- Valpo limited the Raiders to 23-of-68 (33.8%) shooting for the game. Wright State went just 3-for-28 from 3-point range, missing its first 18 attempts from downtown.
- Valpo takes on Green Bay Saturday afternoon to close out the Wisconsin road swing.
- The Crusaders then return home to host Cleveland State next Thursday and Youngstown State next Saturday.
...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 4-2 in true road action, including a perfect 3-0 mark so far on the road in league play.
- Milwaukee enters Thursday night’s game at 8-15 overall and 4-6 in Horizon League play.
- The Panthers have played three consecutive overtime games, including most recently a 79-70 loss at Oakland. The defeat against the Grizzlies snapped a three-game winning streak.
- Senior Cody Wichmann and sophomore Brock Stull have paced the Milwaukee offense, averaging 12.9 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Stull also averages a team-high 7.0 rebounds per game.
- Valpo has continued its recent run of success this year, as the win over Northern Kentucky improved the Crusaders’ record this year to 18-4.
- The Crusaders have now been 18-4 through 22 games in each of the last three seasons.
- Prior to the 2014-15 campaign, Valpo had not started a season 18-4 or better through 22 games since the 1944-45 season.
- With the win Sunday over Northern Kentucky, Valpo extended its current winning streak to a season-long seven games.
- The last time the Crusaders won seven straight games came two seasons ago, in the middle of Horizon League play from Jan. 26 through Feb. 21, 2015.
- If Valpo can beat Milwaukee on Thursday, it would be the program’s first eight-game winning streak since Nov. 23-Dec. 15, 2007.
- The program’s last nine-game winning streak came 15 years ago, as you have to go back to Jan. 12-Feb. 14, 2002.
Big Wins In League Play
- Sunday’s victory over NKU was Valpo’s first by single digits in its last six games, as the Crusaders had previously won their last five games by 10 points or more.
- This was the third time in the last two seasons that Valpo has won five or more league games in a row by double figures, as the Crusaders had separate such streaks of six and five games last year.
- Prior to last season, Valpo had never won five straight league games by 10+ points.
- Alec Peters needed just 4:31 to score his seventh point against UIC last Sunday and surpass Bryce Drew’s Valpo career scoring record of 2,142 career points.
- While Peters needed 125 games to break Drew’s record, which was set in 121 games, Peters played over 300 fewer minutes than Drew to surpass the mark.
- Peters is just the fourth different player to hold Valpo’s career scoring record in the last 48 years (Bruce Lindner-1970; Tracy Gipson-1993; Bryce Drew-1998).
- Peters’ career-high 16th rebound of the Green Bay home game moved him past Chris Ensminger atop the Valpo record book with his 911th career rebound.
- Peters broke his first Valpo career record in the win at YSU, as his first basket of that game surpassed Drew’s record of 696 made field goals.
- Most recently, Peters connected on a free throw with 15 seconds to play versus NKU to break Ed Eckart’s Valpo career record of 452 free throws made.
Atop Both Lists
- By breaking the career scoring record, Peters joined an illustrious group of players who hold both scoring and rebounding records at their alma maters.
- Thr group numbers about 50 players, and includes such all-time greats as Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Jerry West, Bill Bradley, Larry Bird and David Robinson.
- Meanwhile, Peters is going to go down as one of the top players in Indiana college basketball history as well.
- There are currently only two players from Indiana D-I schools who finished their careers with more points and rebounds than Peters has amassed to date.
- Bird posted 2,850 points and 1,247 rebounds at Indiana State, while Luke Harangody tallied 2,476 points and 1,222 rebounds at Notre Dame.
- With six made free throws versus NKU, Peters now has made 147 free throws this season, already third-most in a single campaign in program history.
- Peters is just 30 free throws away from Bruce Lindner’s single-season record of 177, set during the 1969-70 season.
- Peters is already approaching single-season top-10 lists in the scoring and rebounding categories as well.
- The senior is just 41 points and 20 rebounds away from cracking the top-10 charts in the respective categories.
- At his current rates (23.9 ppg/11.0 rpg), Peters would need nine more games to break Bruce Lindner’s single-season scoring record (725 points; 1969-70) and 12 more games to break Joel Oberman’s rebounding record (375 boards; 1973-74).
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of the end of play Tuesday, Valpo led the nation as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.9% clip from the foul line this season.
- Valpo’s top three in free throw attempts this season are all hitting at 83% or better for the year.
- Through 22 games, Valpo has made 22 more free throws (424) than its opponents have attempted (402).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in 13 games this year, and have been under 70% just three times.
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 109-56 (.661) 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.
Peters’ Impressive Season
- Peters was recently named to the midseason top-25 list for the Wooden Award, presented to the nation’s most outstanding college basketball player, and the midseason top-19 list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy.
- Peters is currently averaging 23.9 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 11.0 rebounds/game and has recorded 15 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least eight rebounds in 21 of Valpo’s 22 games.
- Peters leads all D-I players in Ken Pomeroy’s Game MVP stat, garnering 11 game MVPs this season, and ranks eighth nationally in offensive rating (>28% possessions used).
- As of the end of play Tuesday, Peters was fourth nationally in free throws made, eighth in field goals made, fourth in double-doubles, seventh in rebounding and 17th in free throw percentage.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week four times this season, giving him nine career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into first place in program history and is now fifth in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,207 career points.
- Peters currently ranks second among active players in career scoring, while his 127 consecutive games started is tops 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 17 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.