Valparaiso (11-10, 2-6 MVC)
Game #22 - Wednesday, January 24 - 7 p.m.
Evansville (12-9, 2-6 MVC)
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) - Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team renews a rivalry with an in-state foe on Wednesday evening at the ARC, as the Crusaders welcome Evansville to town for the first time as MVC opponents.
Last Time Out: Valpo rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the first half to take the lead early in the second half Sunday afternoon at the ARC against Loyola, but the Ramblers responded with a 16-1 run to take control as the Crusaders fell by a 70-54 final in Missouri Valley Conference action. Bakari Evelyn paced Valpo with 19 points - 17 of which came in the second half - while Derrik Smits matched his career high with 14 points.
Following the Crusaders: Video - The Valley on ESPN3 - Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Analyst)
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Ben Ariano (PxP) and Danny Dalenberg (Analyst)
Links for the live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (35-19) 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: Two programs with a long history, Valpo and Evansville will meet on the hardwood for the 84th time on Wednesday - making the Purple Aces the Crusaders’ third-most common opponent of all time. Evansville holds a 66-17 advantage in the series, but just three of those matchups have come this century, including a 100-92 victory by the Purple Aces in Evansville in November of 2013 in the most recent meeting. The lone game in Valpo between the two squads in the last quarter-century came on Dec. 11, 2007, as the Crusaders came away with a 75-67 win at the ARC.
- Valpo was selected to finish in sixth place in the MVC preseason poll, finishing just 12 points behind Southern Illinois for fifth place.
- 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 Loyola
- Valpo trailed by 10 with 2:42 to play in the first half, but scored the last six points of the half and opened the second half with a pair of buckets to tie the game.
- A Bakari Evelyn runner put the Crusaders ahead 32-31 with 16 minutes remaining, but Loyola went on a 16-1 run over the next four minutes to take control and Valpo got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
- After shooting under 40% in the first half, both teams shot at better than a 50% clip in the second half. While the Crusaders were 12-of-22 from the field in the final 20 minutes, the Ramblers connected on 16-of-27 in the second period – including four 3-pointers.
- Evelyn scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second half and picked up three steals for the second straight game.
- Valpo tallied just six assists and committed 13 turnovers, while Loyola recorded 16 assists against just eight turnovers.
....notes from Missouri State
- Valpo enjoyed an early nine-point lead - its best start in a road MVC game to date - and after falling behind by three points later in the first half, went on a 12-2 run late in the period to take a 31-26 halftime lead.
- The Crusaders pushed their lead to seven points early in the second half and maintained a lead for the first 10 minutes of the half, but an 18-3 Missouri State run over a stretch of six-plus minutes proved decisive.
- Valpo finished the game shooting just 35.5% (22-of-62) from the field and was just 4-for-21 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Bears hit 42.9% (24-of-56), but were just 5-for-21 from the 3-point line.
- The Crusaders finished with 10 steals as a team, as Markus Golder, Bakari Evelyn and Max Joseph all tallied three steals apiece. Valpo reached double figures in steals in each of the last three games, the first time the Crusaders have posted 10+ steals in three consecutive outings since doing so in four straight games Jan. 11-23, 2003.
- After the Crusaders had limited Alize Johnson to just 15 points and five field goals in their first three halves of play against Missouri State this year, the senior exploded for 20 of the Bears’ second-half points and also grabbed 11 second-half rebounds.
- Valpo hits the road this Saturday to face Illinois State at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
- The Crusaders then return home next Wednesday to host Indiana State.
...at the ARC
- Valpo has 14 regular season home games scheduled at the ARC this season and is 7-2 at home so far this season.
- Missouri State snapped the Crusaders’ 13-game home winning streak in Valpo’s first MVC home game.
- Valpo has lost multiple home conference games this year for the first time since the 2013-14 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 54-6 record at home since the start of the 2014-15 season.
- Since the start of the 1995-96 season, the Crusaders own a 289-62 (.823) record on their home court at the ARC
- Evansville enters Wednesday’s game at 12-9 overall and 2-6 in MVC play. The Purple Aces have dropped their last three games, including most recently a loss at Bradley on Saturday.
- Evansville is 10-2 at home this year, but just 1-6 in true road games.
- Ryan Taylor leads all MVC players, averaging 19.6 points per game.
Renewing a Rivalry
- Valpo’s third-most common opponent all time, Wednesday’s meeting between the Purple Aces and the Crusaders is the 84th all time.
- Only Butler (103 meetings) and Saint Joseph’s [Ind.] (87 meetings) have taken on the Crusaders more often than Evansville.
- Valpo and Evansville both joined the Indiana Intercollegiate Conference in 1925.
- Both schools left the IIC as the conference split in 1950, and were both founding members of the Indiana Collegiate Conference. They would share conference membership until Evansville departed in 1977.
Wins Versus Losses
- The difference in the Crusaders’ performance, both offensively and defensively, in wins versus losses this season has been distinct.
- In wins, Valpo is hitting at a .501 clip from the floor and a .388 clip from 3-point range, while connecting at just .389 from the field and .275 from 3-point range in losses.
- Crusader opponents have been limited to a .367 field goal percentage and a .275 3-point percentage in Valpo victories, against a .459 field goal percentage and a .373 3-point percentage in Crusader losses.
- Valpo is also shooting nearly seven percent better (.718-.649) from the foul line in wins than in losses.
- The Crusaders own a +9.9 margin on the glass in victories and have been outrebounded by 4.7 boards per game in losses.
- Valpo’s assist/turnover ratio sits at 1.11 in its wins and 0.56 in its losses.
- While the Crusaders are just 2-6 so far in Valley play, they have been right in most of the games against a tough slate to date.
- Five of Valpo’s eight games have come against the top four teams in the Valley standings, including both meetings already with preseason favorite Missouri State.
- The Crusaders have led at the half in four of eight MVC games and were tied in another.
- All told, Valpo has held second-half leads in six of its first eight Valley games.
- One area where this year’s Crusader squad has excelled is in the steals category, as Valpo is averaging an MVC-best 7.9 steals/game - a mark which ranks 37th nationally.
- The Crusaders are on pace for their highest steals/game average for a single season since the 2002-03 squad recorded 8.8 steals/game.
- Leading the way in the steals department is Tevonn Walker, who ranks second in the Valley with 2.1 steals/game and is on pace to crack Valpo’s single-season chart in the category.
- With 137 career steals, Walker is also just five away from moving into the Crusaders’ all-time top-10.
New Scoring Marks
- Five different Crusaders have matched or set a new career high for points scored in a single game since the start of MVC play.
- Last time out against Loyola, Derrik Smits tied his career high as he went for 14 points against the Ramblers.
- Markus Golder set his career best at the D-I level with a basket in the final seconds, finishing with 18 points at UNI as he went 7-of-11 from the field.
- In the win over Drake, senior Tevonn Walker matched his career high as he scored 26 points, including five 3-pointers.
- Both Max Joseph and Jaume Sorolla set new career bests in scoring in the win over Southern Illinois with 17 points apiece.
- Sorolla’s performance against the Salukis was most notable, as he scored his 17 points in just 12 minutes - making him the first Valpo player to score 17 or more points while playing 12 or fewer minutes in a game in at least 30 years.
Cracking The Top-20
- With his final point at Bradley on Jan. 3, senior Tevonn Walker moved into the top-20 in Crusader history in career scoring.
- Last time out against Loyola, Walker surpassed Darryl Ashby (1974-78) for 18th position in program history.
- Walker currently sits with 1,254 career points.
- Next up for Walker is Chuck Kriston (1960-63) in 17th position - Kriston scored 1,287 points over his three seasons.
We Are Young
- The Crusaders feature nine underclassmen on their roster.
- The active squad boasts two seniors, six sophomores and three freshmen.
- Valpo ranks 257th nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s experience metric, which weights the experience of each player based on minutes played - the Crusaders’ ranking is the lowest in The Valley.
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 (2007-2017), the Crusaders won five regular season and two tournament titles.
Multitude of Wins
- Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Valpo has been one of the nation’s standard bearers in terms of victories on the court.
- The Crusaders have amassed 93 wins since the beginning of the 2014-15 campaign, two wins behind Notre Dame for top honors in the state of Indiana among D-I programs.
- As of the end of play Monday, Valpo was 18th nationally over the same time span in terms of victories.
- The Crusaders ended non-conference play with nine wins, missing out on double-figure victories in non-conference action for just the second time in the last six years.
- Valpo owns a 60-23 (.723) record in pre-league action over the last six years.
- The loss to Purdue capped the Crusaders’ open to the 2017-18 season as the third best in program history.
- Valpo ended up 8-0 to start this season - the only two starts in program history better than 8-0 both came from teams which boast renowned monikers.
- The World’s Tallest Team (1944-45) won 11 straight contests to open that season en route to a 21-3 record.
- The best start all-time by a Crusader squad came from the Victory Five (1923-24), which won its first 22 games of the year and finished the season 24-4.
- With its win over Utah State, Valpo secured a perfect record in the month of November, finishing the month 8-0.
- It marked just the second perfect month for the Crusaders over the last 70 years (minimum three games played).
- The only other month where Valpo posted an undefeated mark came in February of 1998, as the Crusaders went 7-0 - a streak which eventually extended to a total of 13 straight wins as Valpo advanced to the Sweet 16.
- The first five of the Crusaders’ wins this season all came by at least 20 points, the first time in program history that Valpo has won five straight by 20+ points.
- The Crusaders’ first four wins of the year all came by at least 25 points, the first four-game winning streak in program history where all four wins came by 25+ points.
- 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 has had an entire team’s worth of talent from the past five years go on to professional basketball careers.
- Most notably, Alec Peters was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 54th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and is currently on a two-way contract with Phoenix and the Northern Arizona Suns of the G-League.
- Peters is currently averaging 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the NAZ Suns and has appeared in four games, scoring 11 points, for the Phoenix Suns.
- E. Victor Nickerson (2016) has also seen time in the G-League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
- Ryan Broekhoff (2013) highlights the Crusaders’ international pros who have graduated in the last five years, as he currently stars for Lokomotiv in Russia’s VTB United League and the EuroCup.
- Shane Hammink (2017) is playing for Bilbao Basket of Liga ACB in Spain - the top division - while Jubril Adekoya (2017), Vashil Fernandez (2016) and Kevin Van Wijk (2013) are all playing for CB Peñas Huesca of LEB Oro - Spain’s second division.
- Lavonte Dority (2014) is playing for Den Helder Suns in the top division in the Netherlands, while Jordan Coleman (2014) has played for Omnia Basket in Italy’s second division.
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.