Valparaiso (24-7, 14-4 Horizon)
Game #32 - Saturday, March 4 - 7 p.m. CT
Joe Louis Arena (20,027) - Detroit, Mich.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team opens up Motor City Madness in Detroit Saturday evening in the tournament’s second quarterfinal, as the second-seeded Crusaders will face tenth-seeded Milwaukee. Valpo will need to win three games in a four-day span to earn its third Horizon League tournament title.
Last Time Out: Valpo came up just shy of claiming an outright Horizon League regular season title in the finale on Sunday, dropping a tight 82-78 decision at Northern Kentucky. Playing without Alec Peters, junior Tevonn Walker stepped up with a career-best 25 points, while senior Shane Hammink added 23 points as well.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app - Will Haskett (PxP) and David Kaplan (Analyst)
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. With his 24 wins this year, Lottich has tied W.P. Shadoan (1923-24) for most wins by a head coach in their first season at Valpo.
Series Notes: The Crusaders are 22-12 all-time versus Milwaukee and have won 11 of the last 12 matchups, including two victories this year - 71-53 in Milwaukee and 67-61 in Valpo.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo was picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 35 of the 39 first-place votes.
- With their share of the regular season crown, the Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last seven 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.
...in the postseason Horizon League awards
- Three Crusaders were honored earlier this week as the Horizon League office announced the league postseason awards.
- Most notably, Alec Peters was named the Horizon League Player of the Year - the program’s first Player of the Year since Ryan Broekhoff in 2011-12.
- Peters also earned First Team All-League honors for the third straight season - the Crusaders’ first three-time First Team honoree since Raitis Grafs was named a First Team All Mid-Con recipient in each of his final three years (2000-03).
- Shane Hammink was a Second Team All-League selection.
- The Crusaders had multiple honorees on the All-League squads for the first time since 2012-13.
- Tevonn Walker was one of five players selected to the league’s All-Defensive Team.
- Walker joins Vashil Fernandez and Erik Buggs as Crusader players who have earned defensive recognition since Valpo joined the Horizon League.
...looking back at 2015-16
- 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.
- 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.
- With a win on Saturday, the Crusaders would advance to Monday’s second semifinal, where they would face either third-seeded Green Bay or sixth-seeded UIC.
...at neutral sites
- The Crusaders are 2-0 in neutral-site contests so far this season, downing Alabama and BYU at the Men Who Speak Up Main Event from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
- Valpo went 1-2 in neutral-site games last season, losing its lone Horizon League Championship game and then splitting two games at Madison Square Garden in the NIT.
- This marks the second straight year that the Horizon League has hosted the league tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
- The tournament will move to the brand-new Little Caesars Arena the next three seasons.
- Last year was the first year since Valpo joined the league in 2007-08 that the Horizon League employed a single-site tournament format.
- Previously, as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, seven of Valpo’s eight Mid-Con Tournament titles came at single-site tournaments.
- The tournament bracket has changed a bit this year, as instead of a double bye, the top two seeds play in quarterfinal games - but will face teams who have played the previous day, and will have a day off before the semifinals.
Crusaders at the Horizon League Championship
- Valpo owns a 10-7 record at its previous nine Horizon League Championships.
- The Crusaders are just 2-3 in neutral-site league tournament games.
- Valpo is looking to win three games at the Horizon League Championship for the first time - the Crusaders’ tournament titles in 2013 and 2015 required just two victories.
- Looking at its potential quarterfinal opponents, the Crusaders are 1-2 in league tournament play versus Detroit Mercy and 0-2 versus Milwaukee.
- With the Crusaders’ win over Wright State last Friday, Valpo secured a share of the Horizon League regular season title.
- Valpo has now won the regular season crown in five of the last six seasons.
- The Crusaders have claimed their conference regular season title in 14 of the last 23 seasons.
- Valpo now has 17 regular season league titles total in program history.
Five In Six Years
- The Crusaders are in some exclusive company by virtue of their five Horizon League regular season titles over the last six years.
- Prior to Valpo, only Xavier (1989-95) and Butler (2006-11) had claimed five Horizon League regular season crowns in a six-year span, Butler doing so five straight years.
- The Crusaders finished out the regular season with a 14-4 record in league play, matching the 2011-12 squad’s championship record.
- Last year’s team posted the program’s best record within Horizon League play at 16-2.
- Valpo captured the 2014-15 and 2012-13 league titles with a 13-3 record.
Joining the Winningest Teams
- Valpo has already earned 24 victories this season, tied for the fifth-most wins in a single season in program history.
- Only eight seasons have seen the Crusaders win 24 or more games.
- Valpo also won 24 games in 1923-24, 1996-97 and 2000-01, while winning 25 games in the 2001-02 season.
- The three winningest seasons in program history have come in the last five years: 26 wins (2012-13), 28 wins (2014-15) and 30 wins (2015-16).
For Peters, Highs and the Lowest Low
- Senior Alec Peters learned he had been named the Horizon League Player of the Year Wednesday morning.
- Later that afternoon, he learned that his collegiate career was over, as the injury which sidelined him for the final regular season weekend would keep him out the remainder of the year.
- Prior to missing the game at Wright State, Peters had started all 134 games of his collegiate career.
- Then, on Thursday, Peters was named one of five CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Americans for his work in the classroom and on the hardwood.
Players Stepping Up
- With Peters’ absence last weekend, the Crusaders had a number of players step up with big performances.
- Shane Hammink set a new career best with 25 points against Wright State, while Lexus Williams tallied 19 points - the second-best effort of his career.
- Then, at Northern Kentucky, Tevonn Walker recorded 25 points for a new career high, while Hammink added 23 points as well.
- After averaging just 8.3 minutes per game over the first 16 Horizon League games, freshman walk-on John Kiser played 44 minutes over the two games last weekend - including a career-high 26 minutes last time out at NKU.
Rallying From Behind
- The Crusaders overcame a double-figure deficit against WSU - their fourth win this season when facing at least a 10-point deficit at any time.
- Valpo trailed by 10 in the second half to the Raiders, however - the first time this year it has rallied from down double figures in the second half to win.
- In fact, the last time Valpo came back from down 10 or more in the second half to win came on Dec. 14, 2013 versus Loyola Marymount, when the Crusaders turned a 10-point second-half deficit into an 80-73 victory.
- Valpo’s win at Detroit Mercy came by 20 points, the team’s fourth win by at least 20 points within Horizon League play this year.
- The Crusaders were responsible for four of the eight 20+ point decisions in Horizon League action this season.
- 11 of Valpo’s 14 Horizon League wins came 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 home win 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.
- The win over the Vikings 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 only two players from Indiana D-I schools who finished their careers with more points and rebounds than Peters has amassed.
- 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.
Peters’ Impressive Season
- Peters was 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 finished his season averaging 23.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, ranking eighth and 15th nationally, respectively.
- Peters has recorded 16 double-doubles.
- Peters ranks eighth nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating (>28% possessions used) and is third nationally with 13 Game MVPs.
- 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 third in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,348 career points.
- With his season over, Peters will finish third on Valpo’s single-season scoring chart (666 points), seventh in single-season rebounding (293 rebounds) and second in single-season free throws made (172).
20 Or More Points
- 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 23 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.
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 115-59 (.661).
- Valpo has secured a ninth season at .500 or above through the Crusaders’ first 10 seasons in the league.
- Valpo has captured five of the last six Horizon League regular season titles.
- 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 134 career games, tied for second-most by a Crusader all time.