Valparaiso (21-5, 11-2 Horizon)
Game #27 - Friday, Feb. 17 - 6 p.m. CT
at Oakland (19-7, 9-4 Horizon)
Athletics Center O’Rena (4,000) - Rochester, Mich.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: A national television audience awaits the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team on Friday evening, as the Crusaders start out the Horizon League’s Michigan road swing with a game at Oakland. The game matches up the top two teams in the league standings and provides Valpo a chance with a win to move three games ahead of second place with just four games remaining.
Last Time Out: Valpo never trailed Saturday night in earning its 10th win in the last 11 games, fighting off a game Youngstown State squad in the second half to earn an 82-72 victory at the ARC. Shane Hammink and Alec Peters combined for 45 points and 14 rebounds in the winning effort.
Following the Crusaders: TV - ESPN2 - Jordan Bernfield (PxP) and Brooke Weisbrod (Analyst) - also available on 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 owns a 21-8 advantage in the all-time series with Oakland, but it has been a tight series since the Golden Grizzlies joined the Horizon League, as the Crusaders have won four of seven meetings. The Crusaders are 9-5 all-time at Oakland, including an 84-67 victory at the O’Rena last season. This year, it was the Golden Grizzlies who drew first blood, downing Valpo at the ARC in early January, 78-66.
...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 Youngstown State
- With the win, Valpo secured no worse than a fifth-place finish in the final Horizon League standings – the program’s ninth finish in the top half of the league in 10 seasons as a league member.
- Shane Hammink led the Crusaders in the scoring column for the second straight game, scoring 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting. It marked Hammink’s eighth 20+ point game of the season.
- Despite being limited to nine minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, Alec Peters finished with 22 points and seven rebounds.
- With Peters limited in the first half, Tevonn Walker and Lexus Williams did a lot of their damage. Walker scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half and added six rebounds as well, while Williams scored 10 of his 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.
- Williams finished in double figures in the scoring column for just the fourth time this season and the first time in Horizon League play – the junior last scored in double figures in the win at Missouri State.
- The Crusaders hit six of their 11 3-pointer attempts in the first half and ended the game hitting at a 42.1% clip from 3-point range.
...notes from Cleveland State
- Five different Crusaders scored at least nine points in a balanced effort on Thursday.
Leading the way was Shane Hammink, who finished 6-of-11 from the field for 15 points.
- Jaume Sorolla matched his career best with 12 points, hitting on 5-of-7 from the floor. He also pulled down eight rebounds.
- Alec Peters added 12 points as well and also ripped down 14 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.
- Derrik Smits finished one point shy of his high in a Valpo uniform, also going 5-of-7 for 10 points. The freshman, who had tallied just eight assists in the Crusaders’ first 11 Horizon League games, dished out a game-high five helpers on Thursday.
- The Crusaders shot better than 50% from the floor for the fifth time this season, finishing 32-of-62 (51.6%). Valpo was especially efficient inside the arc, hitting 62.5% (25-of-40) of its two-point attempts.
- Valpo also handed out 22 assists on its 32 baskets, just one helper shy of the team’s single-game high this season. The Crusaders tallied the 22 assists against just nine turnovers – their best single-game assist-to-turnover ratio of the year.
- Valpo concludes the Michigan road swing Sunday afternoon at Detroit Mercy.
- The Crusaders continue their regular season-closing stretch of five games in 10 days with their final home game of the season on Tuesday versus Milwaukee.
...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 5-3 in true road action, including a 4-1 mark so far on the road in league play.
- The Golden Grizzlies enter Friday’s matchup with a 19-7 mark overall this year and are alone in second place in the Horizon League standings with a 9-4 record.
- Oakland has won its last four games after losing four in a five-game stretch.
- Three Golden Grizzlies score in double figures, led by 16.7 points per game from Martez Walker and 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game from Jalen Hayes.
Looking For a Title
- The Crusaders enter this weekend with a chance to clinch at least a share of the Horizon League title with two wins.
- A win on Friday would give Valpo a three-game lead in the league standings with four games to play.
- Valpo has captured four of the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
- Valpo’s win over Cleveland State last Thursday came by 21 points, the team’s third win by at least 20 points within Horizon League play this year.
- The Crusaders are responsible for three of the four 20+ point decisions in Horizon League action - the only other team to win a league game by at least 20 was Wright State’s 21-point win over Oakland.
- Nine of Valpo’s 11 Horizon League wins have come by double figures.
- The 2014-15 championship team won just five league games by 10 or more points, including just two by 20+ points.
- Last year’s team dominated in setting a league record for scoring margin within league-only play, winning six games by at least 20 points and seven more by 10-19 points.
- With the win last Thursday over Cleveland State, the Crusaders became the 20th team in program history to reach the 20-win mark.
- 15 of Valpo’s previous 19 20-win seasons have come within the last 23 years.
- Thursday’s win made this year’s squad the third-earliest (based on calendar date) in program history to reach the 20-win mark - the 2014-15 team won its 20th game on Jan. 31, while last year’s team earned win number 20 on Feb. 6.
- Alec Peters needed just 4:31 to score his seventh point at home against UIC 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.
- The 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 eight made free throws against YSU, Peters now has made 166 free throws this season, tied with Dick Jones’ 1966-67 season for the second-most in a single year in program history.
- Peters is just 11 free throws away from Bruce Lindner’s single-season record of 177, set during the 1969-70 season.
- Peters cracked the top-10 scoring list at Green Bay, and moved up to sixth place last time out with 601 points on the year - just 16 points out of fourth position.
- The senior also moved into the top-10 in single-season rebounding last week and currently ranks ninth with 279 rebounds - he is just two shy of eighth place and 11 shy of seventh position.
- At his current rates (23.1 ppg/10.7 rpg), Peters would need six more games to break Bruce Lindner’s single-season scoring record (725 points; 1969-70) and nine more games to break Joel Oberman’s rebounding record (375 boards; 1973-74).
Continued Success Within the League
- Valpo has been strong within Horizon League play since joining the league prior to the 2007-08 season.
- Currently in their 10th season as a Horizon League member, the Crusaders own a league record of 112-57 (.663).
- Valpo has secured a ninth season at .500 or above through the Crusaders’ first 10 seasons in the league.
- Valpo has captured four of the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
Peters’ Impressive Season
- Peters was recently named to the midseason top-30 list for the Naismith Trophy, the midseason top-19 list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy (both national Player of the Year awards) and the top-10 finalists for the Karl Malone Award (national Power Forward of the Year).
- Peters is currently averaging 23.1 points/game - good for fifth nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.7 rebounds/game and has recorded 16 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least eight rebounds in 23 of Valpo’s 26 games.
- Peters ranks seventh nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating (>28% possessions used) and is second nationally with 12 Game MVPs.
- As of the end of play Wednesday, Peters was fifth nationally in free throws made, 14th in field goals made, seventh in double-doubles, ninth in rebounding and 22nd 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 2,283 career points.
- Peters currently ranks second in the nation among active scoring leaders and leads all active players with 131 consecutive games started.
- 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).
- Prior to this season, 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 posted his 19th 20-point game of the year at Green Bay to break Oppland’s mark and now owns 20 games with 20 or more points this season.
- 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 was its third over a power conference opponent in the last two years - 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.
- Peters has now played 131 career games, tied for fourth-most by a Crusader all time.