Valparaiso (3-0, 0-0 MVC)
Game #4 - Sunday, November 19 - 3 p.m.
Southeastern Louisiana (1-2, 0-0 Southland)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team opens up play as part of the Savannah Invitational on Sunday afternoon at the ARC as the Crusaders welcome Southeastern Louisiana to town. Sunday’s game is the first of two home games for Valpo as part of the event, which concludes in Savannah, Ga. on Thanksgiving weekend.
Last Time Out: Valpo was playing on the road for the first time in the regular season Wednesday night, but other than the venue, the game played out quite similar to the Crusaders’ first two outings of the season, as they used a big first-half run to take control in a 94-69 victory at SIUE. The lead was 17-16 with nine minutes to play in the half before a 17-0 run over a five-minute stretch made it a double-figure lead for good. Tevonn Walker led the Crusaders with 22 points.
Following the Crusaders: Video - The Valley on ESPN3/WatchESPN/ESPN app - Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Analyst) and Spencer Krock (Sidelines)
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Payton Ball (PxP) and Ben Ariano (Analyst)
Links for the live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (27-9) 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: Sunday marks the first meeting all-time between Valparaiso and Southeastern Louisiana on the hardwood. The Crusaders are 5-0 all-time against current members of the Southland Conference, as they own three victories over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and one apiece against New Orleans and Northwestern State.
- 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 SIUE
- The 94 points marks the Crusaders’ highest single-game output since putting 96 on UIC at the ARC last season.
- Valpo enjoyed advantages of 36-20 in points in the paint and 31-8 in points off turnovers on Wednesday night. Over their first three games of the year, the Crusaders own an 83-14 advantage off turnovers and 114-34 in the paint.
- For the second straight game, Tevonn Walker led the way offensively for the Crusaders, finishing with 22 points – including a 3-for-4 effort from the 3-point line. 18 of Walker’s 22 came before halftime to help stake Valpo to an 11-point lead at the break.
- The 3-0 start marks the third straight season the Crusaders have won at least their first three games of the year. Last year’s squad also started 3-0, while the 2015-16 team opened the year 5-0.
...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.
- 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 closes its brief two-game homestand on Tuesday evening at the ARC with a 7 p.m. matchup against Samford.
- The Crusaders then continue the Savannah Invitational in Savannah, Ga., facing Kent State on Friday night and UNCW on Saturday evening.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 14 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC this season and is 2-0 at home so far this season.
- The Crusaders posted a 15-2 record in 17 home games last season, one year after setting a program record with 17 home victories.
- Valpo has recorded a 49-4 record in home games since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Over the last 22 years, the Crusaders own a 284-60 (.826) record on their home court at the ARC.
- Southeastern Louisiana enters Sunday’s game at 1-2 on the year, most recently coming off of an 86-75 loss on Thursday to ULM.
- The Lions posted a 16-16 overall record last year and went 9-9 in Southland action.
- Through three games, Marlain Veal leads the Lions, averaging 16.0 ppg.
- As a team, Southeastern is hitting at a 42.9% clip from 3-point range this season.
Looking For 4-0
- With a win on Sunday, Valpo would start 4-0 for just the fourth time in the last 50 years.
- The 2015-16 team and the 1998-99 team both opened the year with wins in their first five games, while the 1986-87 squad started out 4-0.
- In all, the Crusaders have won at least their first four games 17 times in program history - highlighted by a 22-0 start to the 1923-24 campaign.
- Valpo has started at least 2-0 in five of the last six years, including a 3-0 start to last season.
- With the 25-point win at SIUE on Wednesday night, the Crusaders have won their first three games of the year by 25 points or more for the first time in program history.
- Valpo opened the season with a 42-point win over North Park and followed with a 37-point victory against Trinity Christian.
- The 25-point win at SIUE marked Valpo’s largest known margin of victory in a road opener (dating back to the mid-1940s when sites are denoted within the all-time results).
- Valpo last won a road opener by at least 20 points in November of 1998, when it took down Norfolk State, 79-59.
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, the underclassmen combined for 134 minutes played (67%), 60 points (63.8%) and 18 rebounds (58.1%).
- On the season, the group of nine underclassmen have accounted for 72.5% of the scoring, 78.2% of the rebounding and 73.7% of the minutes played.
Golder Makes Immediate Impact
- Redshirt sophomore Markus Golder made his presence felt in his Crusader debut, recording 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in Valpo’s win over North Park.
- 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.
- Golder has scored at least 10 points in each of his first three games with Valpo, the longest stretch to open a Crusader career since Brandon Wood reached double figures in each of his first seven games in 2009.
Scoring and Distributing
- Redshirt sophomore Bakari Evelyn put together a combined effort of 14 points and seven assists last time out in the win at SIUE.
- It marked the first time a Valpo player had scored 14 or more points while also tallying seven or more assists since Brandon Wood at Ohio recorded 17 points and seven assists at Ohio in November of 2010.
Long Lockdown Stretches
- Through three games, Valpo has already held its opponents scoreless for at least five minutes on four separate occasions - including twice in the Trinity Christian win.
- In 33 games last year, the Crusaders held their opposition scoreless for 5+ minutes just 11 times total.
- Valpo kept North Park off the board for the first 10:03 of the season opener, longer than any scoreless stretch last season.
- Most recently, the Crusaders out-scored SIUE 17-0 over a span of 7:35 in the first half last time out - the only prolonged scoreless drought which led to that type of run last season was a 20-0 run for Valpo to open the second half in a win over Indiana State.
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 54-19 (.740) record in pre-league action over the last five seasons.