Valparaiso (1-0, 0-0 MVC)
Games #2-4 - November 15-18
Myrtle Beach Invitational - Conway, S.C.
HTC Center (3,212)
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After going nine days since its regular season opener, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will play three games in four days as it looks to continue its recent run of success in MTEs at the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The tournament begins against WKU on Thursday, with a Friday matchup against either West Virginia or Monmouth. Cal State Fullerton, Saint Joseph’s, UCF and Wake Forest are potentially waiting for the Sunday tournament finale.
Last Time Out: It was a total team effort Tuesday evening at the ARC as Valpo won its seventh consecutive season opener, defeating Concordia University Chicago by a 121-65 final. Valpo was led by 22 points from freshman Javon Freeman, the highest output by a Valpo freshman making his debut in two decades.
Following the Crusaders: TV Thursday – ESPNU - Rich Hollenberg (PxP) an d Debbie Antonelli (Color) - also available on ESPN3
TV Friday and Sunday TBD
Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Analyst)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (40-26) is in his sixth season overall at Valpo and third as head coach in 2018-19. Lottich led Valpo to 15 victories in his second season in charge in 2017-18 and guided the Crusaders through the move to the MVC, which ended the campaign ranked eighth nationally in conference RPI. In his first year as head coach, 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: Valpo has only faced three of the teams in this weekend’s tournament field. It defeated West Virginia 76-57 in December of 2001 at Arizona’s Fiesta Bowl Classic in the only meeting, and is also 1-0 against Cal State Fullerton - a 65-52 win in Valpo in December of 2000. Valpo is 3-2 all-time against UCF, most recently splitting an in-season home-and-home series with the Knights in the non-conference portion of the 2013-14 campaign.
- Valpo was selected to finish in seventh place in the MVC preseason poll with 173 points.
- Valpo has finished worse in the final standings than its preseason projection just once in the last eight years.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo went 15-17 in its first season as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
- The Brown and Gold posted a 6-12 record in MVC play in a conference which ended the season ranked eighth in the nation in conference RPI.
- The 2017-18 campaign marked the first time in the last eight years that Valpo has not earned a bid to postseason tournament play.
- Sophomore Bakari Evelyn was named to the MVC’s All-Newcomer Team, while sophomore Markus Golder earned a spot on the conference’s All-Bench Team.
...against Concordia University Chicago
- Valpo broke the game open with a 24-4 run over a six-minute span, pushing its lead to 35-11 with 8:48 to play in the first half, and then scored the final seven points of the first half to go into the locker room leading 63-31.
- The Cougars came out stronger than Valpo to start the second half, out-scoring Valpo 19-7 over the first 7:45 of the period to move within 72-52.
- With the lead at 77-56 with 11 minutes to play, Valpo put the game away with a 16-0 run which took just over two minutes.
- The game was the first since the two squads met in the opening round of the 1969 NCAA Tournament in Hilltop Gym. In fact, prior to last Tuesday, the last two meetings between the two teams both came in postseason play.
- The effort featured strong performances up and down the roster, as all 10 active players for Valpo played between 11 and 25 minutes. All 10 scored at least three points and all grabbed at least three rebounds as well.
- Valpo has now won seven consecutive season openers and 14 straight home openers, 13 of which have come by double figures.
...against UIndy (exhibition)
- This was the third time in as many exhibition matchups between the two squads in the last decade that has been a tightly contested game. In 2009, UIndy beat Valpo 88-83 in an exhibition matchup, while Valpo won 75-67 in 2015 in a game that was within three points with 30 seconds to play – kicking off a season which resulted in the NIT championship game appearance.
- Valpo led by as many as nine in the first half before taking a 30-27 lead into the half.
- UIndy scored six straight points to start the second half to take the lead.
- Valpo put together an 11-0 run to go up by eight points with 11:20 remaining, but UIndy rallied and took the lead for good with about four minutes to play.
- Both teams struggled shooting from the floor, as both squads came in just shy of 35%. UIndy did hit eight 3-pointers to Valpo’s three from behind the arc.
- Valpo will have a brief sojourn back home after this weekend, taking on SIUE on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
- Valpo will then head right back out on the road, taking on West Virginia in a non-bracketed game as part of the Myrtle Beach Invitational on Nov. 24 before heading to Las Vegas for its MWC/MVC Challenge game against UNLV on Nov. 28.
...at neutral sites
- This weekend marks the only three neutral site games in the regular season for Valpo.
- Valpo has gone 2-1 on neutral sites each of the last two years, winning a pair of regular season games before falling in a conference tournament matchup.
- The Hilltoppers have started this season 1-1, falling at a top-25 Washington squad by a 73-55 final before beating UT Martin, 86-71.
- WKU was selected as the preseason favorite to win Conference USA.
- Last season, the Hilltoppers went 27-11 and advanced to the semifinals of the NIT.
- Fans at the ARC last Tuesday saw a number on Valpo’s side of the scoreboard which hasn’t been seen in over a generation.
- Valpo’s 121 points scored were tied for the fourth-most in a single game in program history, matching a Feb. 26, 1974 win over Wabash and a March 1, 1969 victory over Wheaton.
- The last time Valpo scored more than 121 points was in its program-record 138-point outing against Muhlenberg on Dec. 6, 1968.
- The 56-point margin of victory was the seventh-highest in program history.
- Six players finished in double figures in the win, the first time a sextet of Valpo players has scored 10 or more since an 86-84 win over Oakland on Feb. 19, 2016.
A Strong Debut
- It’s been two decades since a Valpo freshman has debuted with the kind of game rookie Javon Freeman had last Tuesday against Concordia University Chicago.
- Freeman finished the night with a game-high 22 points (7-8 FG; 2-2 3PT; 6-8 FT) in just 25 minutes of action, to go with four rebounds, four assists and a game-best three steals.
- Freeman became the first Valpo freshman to lead the team in a season opener since Lubos Barton scored 27 in a win over South Carolina in November of 1998.
- Freeman’s 22-point performance was also the best output by a freshman in his debut since Barton’s 27-point game.
- Valpo heads to the Myrtle Beach Invitational this weekend looking to continue its recent run of success in multi-team events.
- Dating back to its final MTE game in November of 2013, the Crusaders have won 17 consecutive games as part of MTEs.
- Valpo brought home the Challenge in Music City championship in 2014, posted a perfect record in the Beaver Showcase in 2015, claimed the MGM Grand Main Event Heavyweight Division championship belt in 2016, and shared the title with MVC cohort Loyola at the Savannah Invitational last season.
- Over that stretch, Valpo holds wins over Murray State (2014), Iona (2015), Oregon State (2015), Alabama (2016) and BYU (2016).
Tough Slate Away From Home Opens
- Valpo kicks off a challenging slate of games away from home in the non-conference portion of the schedule this weekend.
- The three-game Myrtle Beach Invitational pits Valpo against Conference USA preseason favorite Western Kentucky to open play.
- Valpo will play four true road games in the non-conference slate - two against Sweet 16 teams from a season ago in West Virginia and Texas A&M, as well as games at UNLV and George Washington.
- Valpo boasts five players who have redshirted on its active roster entering the 2018-19 season.
- Derrik Smits redshirted due to injury in his first year at Valpo, while Bakari Evelyn and Ryan Fazekas each sat out as a redshirt after transferring from Nebraska and Providence, respectively.
- Deion Lavender and Markus Golder both redshirted before arriving at Valpo as well.
- Only 12 schools nationally have more redshirts on their active roster this year than Valpo’s five.
- Valpo also has a pair of Division I transfers in Eron Gordon and Nick Robinson sitting out this season as redshirts as well.
- Seven letterwinners return from last year’s team, including three starters.
- The returnees are highlighted by MVC All-Newcomer Team honoree Bakari Evelyn and MVC All-Bench Team selection Markus Golder.
- In all, Valpo returns 63.3% of its scoring, 66.6% of its rebounding and 64.1% of its minutes played from last season in 2018-19.
- Five players will make their Valpo debuts this season.
- Valpo’s lone senior is a graduate transfer, as Deion Lavender joins the program for his final season of collegiate eligibility after spending the last two years at UAB.
- Junior Ryan Fazekas is eligible this year after sitting out last season as a transfer from Providence.
- Valpo welcomes a trio of true freshmen to the fold this year as well: Chicago native Javon Freeman, Winnipeg product Daniel Sackey and a Region representative in Bowman Academy graduate Langston Stalling.
- Valpo has produced a myriad of professional basketball players over the last 25 years, most notably a pair of NBA players in the last two years.
- Ryan Broekhoff (class of 2013) signed a contract with the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2018 after spending five seasons playing internationally in Russia and Turkey.
- Alec Peters (class of 2017) was the 54th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. Peters appeared in 20 games as a rookie for the Suns in 2017-18, highlighted by a 36-point performance in the season finale against Dallas - a new single-game high by a Valpo alum in the NBA.
- Peters is currently playing for CSKA Moscow in Russia.
- 2018 Valpo graduates Tevonn Walker and Max Joseph are currently playing for Hamburg Towers in Germany and Nassjo Basket in Sweden, respectively.
- Valpo has now produced 50 pro basketball players over the last 25 years.
The International Flavor
- This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that Valpo has cultivated over the past two-plus decades.
- The Crusaders boast a pair of international players on this year’s roster.
- Represented are Canada (Sackey) and Spain (Sorolla).
- Over the past 22 years, the Crusaders have welcomed 34 international players from 19 different countries.
- Valpo is looking to continue its recent string of successful non-conference play.
- The Crusaders have entered conference play with at least 10 victories under their belt in four of the last six years and just missed the mark last year, going 9-4 prior to the start of conference play.
- Valpo owns a 61-23 (.726) record in pre-league action dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season.