Valparaiso (2-0, 0-0 MVC)
Game #3 - Wednesday, November 15 - 7 p.m.
at SIUE (0-1, 0-0 OVC)
Vadalabene Center (4,000) - Edwardsville, Ill.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will hit the road for the first time in the regular season on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders play at SIU Edwardsville. The game against the Cougars is the Crusaders’ lone true road game until Dec. 7.
Last Time Out: The Crusaders improved to 2-0 on the year as they cruised to an 83-46 victory over Trinity Christian at the ARC on Monday night. A 13-0 run midway through the first half gave Valpo the lead for good, and Valpo led by 19 at the half en route to the win. Tevonn Walker led the way for the Crusaders with 18 points and four streals.
Following the Crusaders: TV - Fox Sports Midwest - Scott Warmann (PxP) and Joe Pott (Analyst)
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Analyst)
Links for the live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (26-9) continued the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program’s run of success in his first season as head coach of the Crusaders, and is poised to keep the program at a high level as he enters his second season in charge in 2017-2018. In his first season at the helm, Lottich guided Valpo to its fifth Horizon League regular season championship in the last six years as he led the Crusaders to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT.
Series Notes: Wednesday is the first meeting in the all-time series between the Crusaders and SIUE. Valpo last faced an OVC opponent in December of 2015, as the Crusaders split a home-and-home series with Belmont - both teams winning on their home court.
- Valpo was selected to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, finishing just 12 points behind Southern Illinois for fifth place.
- The Crusaders have defeated MVC preseason favorite Missouri State in each of the last two seasons.
- Valpo has not finished worse in the final standings than its preseason projection in the last seven years.
- Senior Tevonn Walker represented the Crusaders among the preseason All-Conference honorees, earning Second Team accolades.
...looking back at last year
- The Crusaders are coming off of their third consecutive Horizon League regular season title and their fifth in the last six years, posting a 14-4 mark within league play and a 24-9 record overall.
- The regular season was highlighted by a win over #21 Rhode Island at the ARC - the program’s first win over a ranked opponent since 1998 - and wins in Las Vegas over Alabama and BYU to earn the MGM Grand Main Event title.
- Valpo earned an at-large bid into the Postseason NIT for the second time in program history, falling at Illinois in a first-round matchup. The NIT berth extended the Crusaders’ string of postseason appearances to seven straight seasons.
- Alec Peters was named an NABC Third Team All-American and an AP Honorable Mention All-American and claimed the Horizon League Player of the Year award.
- Peters closed out his career as the Crusaders’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
- Shane Hammink was a Second Team All-League selection, while Tevonn Walker was named to the league’s All-Defensive Team.
...notes from Trinity Christian
- Tevonn Walker surpassed the 1,000-point milestone for his career with his first basket of the game, becoming the first Crusader to reach the mark since Alec Peters did so in the 2015 NCAA Tournament vs. Maryland.
- Walker led the Crusaders with 18 points and came up with a game-high four steals as well.
- Walker led the way as Valpo tallied 16 steals as a team – their highest total since registering 17 steals last November in a win over Ball State. Marten Linssen added three steals, while Markus Golder, Micah Bradford and John Kiser each tallied two as well.
- Thanks in large part to the 16 steals, Valpo enjoyed a tremendous 33-2 advantage in points off turnovers in the win over the Trolls, as the Crusaders forced a total of 25 Trinity Christian turnovers.
- The Crusaders out-rebounded the Trolls by nearly two to one, finishing with a 45-23 edge in the category. 16 of Valpo’s boards were of the offensive variety, leading to 18 second-chance points.
- Valpo ended the win with large advantages as well in points in the paint (36-6) and fast-break points (16-0).
...notes from North Park
- Valpo started the game on a 15-0 run, as North Park didn’t score until 10:03 into the game. The Vikings went 0-for-13 from the field and committed eight turnovers over that stretch.
- Three of Valpo’s five returnees who played matched or broke their career high for points - Micah Bradford (20), Derrik Smits (14) and John Kiser (8, tied).
- The Crusaders enjoyed significant advantages in points in the paint (42-8), points off turnovers (19-4) and fast-break points (22-0).
- Valpo returns home to the ARC early next week for a pair of games to open competition as part of the Savannah Invitational.
- The Crusaders will host Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday afternoon before welcoming Samford to the ARC on Tuesday night.
...on the road
- Valpo has finished above .500 in true road games in four of the last five seasons, including a 7-6 mark in such games last year.
- Prior to this stretch, the Crusaders had not finished above .500 on the road in the previous 10 years.
- The game against SIUE is the lone true road game for Valpo in its first eight games, but starting Dec. 7, the Crusaders will play six straight true road games.
- SIUE enters Wednesday’s game at 0-1 on the year, as it fell to Purdue in the season opener, 105-74.
- Last season, the Cougars finished 6-24 overall and posted a 1-15 record in Ohio Valley Conference play.
- UIC transfer Julian Torres paced SIUE against the Boilermakers with 20 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 mark from 3-point range.
Success in the Openers
- The Crusaders continued their recent success in season and home openers with Friday’s big win over North Park.
- Valpo has now won six consecutive season openers - all of which have come at home.
- The Crusaders also extended their winning streak in home openers to 13 straight years, 12 of which have come by double figures.
Looking For 3-0
- With a win on Wednesday, Valpo would start at least 3-0 in each of the last three seasons.
- Last year’s squad started out 3-0, while the 2015-16 team won each of its first five games.
- Valpo has started 2-0 in five of the last six years.
- This year’s team is the first in program history to win each of its first two games of the year by at least 30 points.
Youth Shall Be Served
- With nine of the Crusaders’ 12 players this season being underclassmen, the freshmen and sophomores will undoubtedly combine for large percentages of the team’s output.
- Last time out in the win over Trinity Christian, the underclassmen combined for 61 of 83 points (73.5%), 34 of 42 rebounds (81%) and 154 of 200 minutes played (77%).
- In the season-opening win, the underclassmen recorded 71 of Valpo’s 88 points (80.7%), 41 of 46 rebounds (89.1%) and 154 of 200 minutes played (77%).
- Redshirt sophomore Markus Golder made an immediate impact in his Crusader debut, recording 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in Valpo’s win over North Park.
- It was the first double-double by a Valpo player in a season opener since Urule Igbavboa registered 15 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Calumet to open 2006.
- Golder’s double-double was the first by a player in his Crusader debut since Mohamed Kone opened the 2005 season with 15 points and 11 rebounds at IPFW.
Valpo in the Valley
- A new era begins this year for Valpo men’s basketball and the athletics department and University as a whole, as the 2017-18 year is Valpo’s first as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Valley is renowned for its men’s basketball success on the national stage. Since the year 2000, The Valley has earned 33 bids to the NCAA Tournament – 18 automatic bids and 15 at-large berths – and has posted 27 tournament victories.
- Since 2010, 12 MVC programs in the NCAA Tournament have combined for 16 victories.
- The Crusaders are looking to carry over the success they’ve had in the past two-plus decades into The Valley.
- Over its last 13 years as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference (1994-2007), Valpo claimed nine regular season and eight tournament championships.
- Then, in a decade as a Horizon League member, the Crusaders won five regular season and two tournament titles.
- Six letterwinners return from last year’s 24-win squad, including one full-time starter in Tevonn Walker and a trio of part-time starters in Derrik Smits, Micah Bradford and Jaume Sorolla.
- In all, the Crusaders return 50.2% of minutes played, 46.3% of rebounding and 40.7% of scoring from last year’s team.
- Six players will take the floor for the first time for the Crusaders this year.
- A pair of high-major transfers are eligible after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Joe Burton (Oklahoma State) has two seasons of eligibility remaining, while Bakari Evelyn (Nebraska) is entering his sophomore season of eligibility.
- A third transfer joins the Crusaders with three years remaining as well, as Markus Golder comes to Valpo from North Idaho College.
- The three transfers are joined by three true freshmen - Indiana H.S. products Mileek McMillan and Parker Hazen, and German import Marten Linssen.
The International Flavor
- This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that Valpo has cultivated over the past two decades.
- The Crusaders boast four international players on this year’s roster from three different countries.
- Represented are Canada (Joseph and Walker), Spain (Sorolla) and Germany (Linssen).
- Over the past 21 years, the Crusaders have welcomed 33 international players from 19 different countries.
Crusaders Sign Javon Freeman-Liberty
- One of the top prospects in the Class of 2018 in the state of Illinois, Javon Freeman-Liberty signed a National Letter of Intent during the early signing period and will join Valpo as a freshman for the 2018-19 season.
- Freeman-Liberty helped lead Whitney Young H.S. to the Illinois Class 4A state title last year as a junior, averaging 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
- The 6’4” Chicago native is a consensus top-10 prospect in his class in Illinois and is ranked fifth overall in the state and 37th nationally among shooting guards by ESPN. He played his AAU basketball last summer for Meanstreets.
- Valpo is looking to continue its recent string of successful non-conference campaigns.
- The Crusaders have entered conference play with at least 10 victories under their belt in four of the last five years, including a 10-3 mark in pre-conference action each of the last two seasons.
- Valpo owns a 53-19 (.736) record in pre-league action over the last five seasons.