Valparaiso (24-8, 14-4 Horizon)
2017 Postseason NIT
Game #33 - Tuesday, March 14 - 6 p.m.
at Illinois (18-14, 8-10 Big Ten)
State Farm Center (15,544) - Champaign, Ill.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will make its second consecutive appearance in the National Invitation Tournament and its seventh straight postseason appearance beginning Tuesday night, as the seventh-seeded Crusaders make the trip to Champaign, Ill. to face second-seeded Illinois. Valpo is looking to make a run in the NIT in back-to-back years following an appearance in the tournament’s championship game at Madison Square Garden in 2016.
Last Time Out: A cold-shooting night doomed Valpo in quarterfinal action at the Horizon League Championship on March 4 in Detroit, Mich., as the Crusaders’ last-second 3-point attempt was off the mark and they fell victim to an upset-minded Milwaukee squad, 43-41.
Following the Crusaders: TV - ESPN - Doug Sherman (PxP) and Sean Harrington (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 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: Valpo is 0-6 all-time versus Illinois, with all six previous matchups coming in Champaign. This year’s fourth-year seniors were freshmen the last time the programs matched up on Nov. 13, 2013 - a 64-52 victory for the Illini.
...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 as the Horizon League office announced the league postseason awards upon the conclusion of the regular season.
- 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.
- 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 Tuesday, the Crusaders would advance to the second round of the NIT, where they would face either third-seeded Utah or sixth-seeded Boise State on a date and time to be determined.
...on the road
- Valpo has secured a winning record in true road games for the fourth time in the last five years, after having not done so the previous 10 seasons.
- This year’s team had just three true road games on the slate during the non-league schedule and currently sits at 7-5 in true road action - including a 6-3 mark in league play.
- The Crusaders’ two true road losses outside of the Horizon League came at top-10 Oregon and Kentucky teams.
Heading to the Postseason Again
- Valpo received an at-large berth into this year’s postseason NIT with a 24-8 record on the season.
- This year is the seventh straight season Valpo will appear in postseason play and the 16th time in the last 22 years.
- Every four-year senior class since the 1995 class has made at least one postseason trip.
Repeat the March to MSG
- Valpo is hoping to replicate last year’s run to the title game of the NIT.
- Last season’s Crusader squad was a 1 seed in the NIT by virtue of being one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament, and put together quite the memorable postseason run, setting a school record by winning four postseason games.
- Valpo won home games against Texas Southern, Florida State and Saint Mary’s - the latter coming in front of a program-record crowd at the ARC - to advance to play at Madison Square Garden.
- The Crusaders then won a thriller over BYU in the semifinals before falling in the title game to George Washington.
Crusader Postseason History
- This year marks Valpo’s fourth appearance all-time in the NIT - the Crusaders are 4-3 in their previous three appearances.
- Prior to last season’s run to the title game, Valpo lost at Iowa in 2003 and lost at Miami in 2012.
- The 2012 and 2016 Crusader squads earned automatic bids to the NIT by virtue of winning regular season league titles, while this year’s team joins the 2003 team as squads which received at-large bids.
- The Crusaders’ last postseason victory prior to last season came in the first round of the 2008 CBI, when Valpo won at Washington.
- Valpo also owns a pair of wins in the 1998 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, and also won postseason games in 1938, 1962 (2), 1966, 1967 (2), 1969 and 1973.
Representing the Horizon League
- The Crusaders’ at-large bid to the NIT makes the Horizon League one of just two NCAA Tournament one-bid leagues to place multiple teams into this year’s NIT.
- Oakland is also representing the Horizon League in the NIT as an automatic qualifier, while Colorado State, Fresno State and Boise State are all in the NIT field out of the Mountain West Conference.
Playing With Experimental Rules
- This year’s NIT will be played under a few experimental rules.
- Most notably, each half will be separated into two 10-minute segments for the purpose of the foul limit. Within each segment, each team will be permitted four fouls.
- With the fifth (and each subsequent) foul of each segment, two free throws will be awarded to the opposing team.
- The first segment of each half will start when the ball becomes live, and end when the game clock reads 10:00. The second segment will begin when the game clock reads 9:59 and end when the half ends.
- In overtime, teams will be permitted three fouls - the fourth foul will result in two free throws being awarded.
- In addition, on fouls in the front court against the defense and/or a stoppage of play for blood, the shot clock will be set to 20 seconds (if below 20 seconds) or will remain the same as when play is interrupted (if at 20 seconds or above).
- With the Crusaders’ win over Wright State on Feb. 24, 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 years.
- 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 on Wednesday, March 1.
- 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, March 2, 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, the Crusaders have 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 final two regular season games before earning his first career start in the league tournament versus Milwaukee, playing 21 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds.
- 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 17th nationally, respectively.
- Peters recorded 16 double-doubles and scored 20 or more points on 23 occasions.
- Peters ranks sixth nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating (>28% possessions used) and is eighth 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).
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.