Valparaiso (10-17, 7-11 MVC)
vs. Missouri State (16-6, 12-6 MVC)
Game No. 28 – Friday, March 5, 8:08 p.m.
Enterprise Center (16,502) – St. Louis, Mo.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: For the first time since joining the prestigious Missouri Valley Conference, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team has earned a first-round bye in the State Farm MVC Tournament by virtue of a top-six finish in the regular-season standings. The program continued to elevate its Valley tournament seeding with each passing season, bypassing Thursday’s opening round and vaulting straight into a quarterfinal showdown against the third-seeded Bears of Missouri State. Valpo will look to replicate its Arch Madness success from a season ago, when head coach Matt Lottich’s team won three games in three days to become the first opening-round team in the 30-year history of the event to reach the title game.
Last Time Out: Valpo finished the regular season on a high note, clinching a first-round bye in Arch Madness with a 70-58 triumph over Indiana State on Saturday, Feb. 27. The 12-point victory flipped the script from a double-digit defeat the night prior, when the visiting Sycamores came away with a 58-43 win. The victory for Valpo in Game 2 of the back-to-back featured a commendable performance from the Valpo bench, which outscored the Terre Haute team’s reserves 49-3 with Jacob Ognacevic leading the way with 19 points and Goodnews Kpegeol registering a double-double of 12 and 11.
Following Valpo Basketball: Television – The MVC TV Network (NBC Sports Chicago Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports Indiana, FOX Sports Kansas City Plus; Ch. 201 on Comcast; ESPN+ broadcast out of market only) – Scott Warmann (play-by-play) and Rich Zvosec (analyst)
MVC Radio – KTRS Radio 550 AM St. Louis – Brendan Wiese (play-by-play) and Kevin Lehman (analyst)
Valpo Radio – Valpo Sports Network (WVUR 95.1 FM, TuneIn Radio App) – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Paul Oren (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (83-77) is in his eighth season overall at Valpo and fifth as head coach in 2020-21. Just two years removed from finishing in last place and being knocked out in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as a first-year Valley member, Lottich’s team did more than hold its own in 2019-2020, ascending into a tie for sixth in the league standings before finishing as the conference tournament runner-up. Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness to reach the title game after playing in the opening round. Lottich, hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016, graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and New Trier High School (Illinois) in 2000.
- Valpo has improved its Arch Madness seeding in each of its four Missouri Valley Conference seasons.
- The team entered Arch Madness as a No. 10 seed in 2017-18, a No. 9 seed in 2018-19, a No. 7 in 2019-20 and now a No. 6 in 2020-21.
- Valpo’s conference-tournament performance has elevated in each season as well. The team made a first-round exit in Year 1 before notching its first Arch Madness victory in Year 2. Last year featured the program’s first MVC title game appearance, setting the stage for Year 4 this weekend.
- Missouri State holds a 21-10 lead in the all-time series after taking both regular-season meetings this year.
- Valpo topped the Bears 89-82 in last year’s MVC semifinal to reach the conference championship game.
- This marks the third time in Valpo’s first four seasons in the league that these two teams have matched up in Arch Madness. The squads have split the first two St. Louis faceoffs with Missouri State winning 83-79 in the opening round in 2018 before the aforementioned Valpo victory a season ago.
- Valpo is 3-7 in 10 meetings with the Bears since joining the Valley. The Brown & Gold swept a nonconference home-and-home between the two teams in December 2015 and December 2016.
- Valpo dropped the two meetings this season by double figures at home, but the team was opening up conference play after a lengthy layoff and limited practice time due to a COVID-19 related pause. Some Valpo players were still quarantined and others were playing after as few as two to three practices.
Regular Season Meetings with Missouri State…
Jan. 9: Missouri State 81, Valpo 68 (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Valpo shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range (11-of-27), but just 41.1 percent overall.
- Valpo committed just seven turnovers. The team also committed only seven turnovers in last year’s MVC Tournament matchup with Missouri State.
- Donovan Clay enjoyed his fourth career 20-point game and his second this season. The sophomore’s 21-point effort against the Bears is still his season high entering Arch Madness.
- Clay finished one point shy of a career high, which occurred in last season’s home matchup with Missouri State (Feb. 25), when he scored 22 points. Clay hit a season-high four 3s in this year’s game against the Bears.
- Ben Krikke had shattered his previous season high by halftime on his way to 21 points, at the time a career high. That stood as his second-highest single game scoring output during the 2020-21 regular season (25 on Jan. 24 at Illinois State).
- Krikke’s 17 points in the first half were the most in a single half by a Valpo player this season. The Canadian forward joined Javon Freeman-Liberty (twice), Tevonn Walker (twice) and Alec Peters (twice during his senior season, Lottich’s first season) as the only four players with 17 or more first-half points in a game during the Matt Lottich Era.
- Freshman Connor Barrett accounted for five of the team’s nine steals. He became the first Valpo player with five steals in a game since Freeman-Liberty on Feb. 15 of last season at Illinois State and the first player not named Javon with a five-steal game since Tevonn Walker on Jan. 13, 2018 at UNI.
- Barrett joined the short list of players with five or more steals in a game during the Matt Lottich Era: Javon Freeman-Liberty (3), Lexus Williams (3) and Tevonn Walker (2).
- Sheldon Edwards chipped in nine points as freshmen and sophomores (specifically, the quarter of Krikke, Edwards, Clay and Barrett) accounted for 62 of the team’s 68 points (91.1 percent).
- Valpo’s last two games with a pair of 20-point scorers have both come against Missouri State (Clay & Ryan Fazekas, Feb. 25, 2020; Clay & Krikke, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021).
- Missouri State’s 70.8 percent shooting clip in the first half was the highest by a Valpo opponent in a single half since Dec. 28, 2017 (at Indiana State, 72.2 percent, 2nd half). Missouri State’s performance was the highest shooting percentage in the first half of a game by a Valpo opponent since Jan. 13, 1992 (vs. Western Illinois, 72.3 percent).
Jan. 10: Missouri State 78, Valpo 68 (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Valpo boasted four players in double figures, led by Jacob Ognacevic and Eron Gordon with 13 points apiece. Gordon paced the team in scoring for the first time in his Valpo career.
- Ognacevic’s 13 points came on 4-of-7 shooting in just 12 minutes of action.
- Sheldon Edwards reached nine points for the second straight day, this time finishing with 10 points.
- Ben Krikke scored 12 points to finish in double figures for the eighth time in the season’s first 10 games.
- Daniel Sackey sent out a team-high six assists while also going 5-of-6 at the free-throw line and swiping a pair of steals.
- Missouri State’s Gaige Prim posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with Mosley’s 29-point performance. Mosley’s 26 second-half points marked the most by a Valpo opponent in a single half since Reggie Hamilton of Oakland had 28 in the second half on Dec. 17, 2011.
- Valpo was held to a season-low 35.4 percent shooting, but did haul in 11 offensive rebounds, snapping a streak of three straight games with five or fewer.
- Valpo dropped back-to-back home contests for the first time since December 2018 vs. High Point and Ball State.
Scouting the Bears
- Had a seven-game winning streak snapped with a 72-63 loss at Evansville in the regular-season finale.
- Led in scoring by Isiaiah Mosley at 20.0 points per game, while Gaige Prim is contributing 16.8 points per contest and squeezing 9.0 rebounds per game.
- Like Valpo, exceeded preseason expectations by finishing third after being projected to finish sixth.
Third Time’s a Charm?
- Valpo hopes the old adage “it’s hard to beat a team three times” comes true on Friday as Missouri State seeks the three-game season sweep over the Brown & Gold.
- Friday’s matchup with Missouri State marks the seventh time in the last 17 years that Valpo has faced a team in conference tournament play that it lost to twice during the regular season.
- Valpo is 2-4 in the previous six instances, with the victories coming vs. Loyola in 2020 and vs. Indiana State in 2019. Valpo incurred three-game sweeps at the hands of Loyola in 2019 and Missouri State in 2018. During its first two Horizon League seasons, Valpo dropped all three matchups with Cleveland State (2007-08) and Wright State (2008-09).
Valpo in St. Louis
- Although Valpo is the new kid on the block when it comes to Arch Madness, the program’s history in the building now known as the Enterprise Center goes beyond the team’s three MVC Tournament appearances.
- Valpo’s Sweet Sixteen game against Rhode Island in 1998 was played in the building, which was then known as the Kiel Center.
- Valpo also appeared in the 2002 NCAA Tournament in St. Louis, but the first-round date with Kentucky was played at the Edward Jones Dome.
- Head coach Matt Lottich played at Stanford from 2000-2004 and was part of the Cardinal team that participated in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Edwards Jones Dome in 2002. His squad joined Valpo as two of the eight teams competing in St. Louis in the opening round of the tournament that year.
The Valley Transition
- With Year 4 in the Missouri Valley Conference now in the books, Valpo has surpassed Loyola’s conference win total over its first four seasons in the league. Valpo garnered its 29th MVC victory in the regular-season finale vs. Indiana State.
- The Ramblers went 27-45 over their first four seasons before going 57-16 in the four years since.
- Valpo has improved its conference finish in each season during the four-year transitional period after elevating to the prestigious and competitive conference.
- In the regular-season finale vs. Indiana State on Feb. 27, Valpo outscored the Sycamores 49-3 with the trio of Goodnews Kpegeol, Jacob Ognacevic and Zion Morgan accounting for 46 of those 49. That reserve group outscored the remainder of Valpo’s roster 46-24 and accounted for two-thirds of the team’s scoring.
- The 49 bench points were Valpo’s most in a game against a Division-I team since Jan. 18, 2016, a 96-65 victory at Youngstown State that featured 53 bench points.
- Valpo has outscored the opponent in bench points in each of the last seven games.
- Valpo’s three bench players (28) outscored its five starters (24) in the near upset of No. 22/23 Loyola on Feb. 17.
- Freshman Jacob Ognacevic has been a key cog in Valpo’s recent surge in scoring off the bench. The Sheboygan, Wis. native – who shattered Sheboygan Lutheran High School’s scoring record that was previously held by Sam Dekker – went 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-6 from 3 in Valpo’s regular-season finale vs. Indiana State on Feb. 27.
- In the process, Ognacevic racked up 19 points in just 25 minutes, rewriting his season best against a Division-I opponent and finishing a single point shy of his overall personal best that came in a December game vs. Judson.
- Ognacevic became the first Valpo player to hit five 3s in a game against a Division-I opponent this season and joined fellow freshman Connor Barrett as the only members of the squad with five triples in a contest this year.
- In addition, Ognacevic became just the fifth MVC player to shoot 83.3 percent or better with at least four attempts from 3 in a single game this season.
- “JO” boasted a team-best plus-minus line of +26 in the victory over the Sycamores.
- Ognacevic’s season 3-point percentage is up to 51.7, while his field-goal percentage stands at 55.0. The rookie has attempted just 2.1 3s per game, so he does not meet the NCAA minimum of 2.5 attempts per game to qualify for the NCAA leaderboard. The top 3-point field goal percentage in the nation among those who qualify is 48.5.
- Valpo has had just one qualifying player finish above 50 percent from 3 in program history (Lane Barker, 52.1 percent, 1991-92), but 75 attempts are needed to qualify and Ognacevic has 58 attempts entering Arch Madness.
- The freshman does have enough field-goal attempts to qualify for the program record book in that category and is currently just outside the top 10 at 55 percent. He would need to finish at 57.2 percent or better to crack the record book.
- Ognacevic made at least one three in nine of the final 10 regular-season games after not attempting a 3 in any of his previous five games before that stretch.
- The rookie has scored seven points or more in four straight including two games of 15 or more during that stretch.
More Good News for Valpo
- Goodnews Kpegeol enjoyed a career day in Valpo’s regular-season finale on Feb. 27 vs. Indiana State, posting a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. His day on the glass shattered his previous best of seven, while his point total represented his third game in double figures this year.
- Kpegeol achieved his first double-double in a Valpo uniform and became the fourth Valpo player to turn the trick this season, joining Donovan Clay (2), Eron Gordon and Ben Krikke.
- Kpegeol went from playing just 1 minute, 21 seconds the previous day vs. Indiana State (CD) to 29 minutes of productive run in the Feb. 27 series finale.
- Kpegeol has scored seven points or more five times in his last seven games.
- The Kansas State transfer pulled down 11 rebounds in the Feb. 27 game vs. Indiana State after having nine total boards in his previous seven games combined.
Coming on Strong
- Zion Morgan matched a career high with 15 points while handing out a season-high five assists against no turnovers in the Feb. 27 victory over Indiana State.
- Morgan also pulled down five rebounds, his fifth straight game with five or more boards. That came after he had more than two rebounds just once in his first nine games of the year.
- After shooting 45.8 percent (11-24) at the free-throw line last season, Morgan has knocked down freebies at an 81.8 percent clip (9-11) this year.
- Morgan is averaging 5.2 points per game this year after scoring 1.9 points per contest a year ago.
The Quarantine King
- Valpo sophomore Ben Krikke leads the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game (13.1 in MVC play) after scoring 6.7 points per game last year, fifth on the team.
- Krikke’s increased success comes despite spending nearly 100 days in quarantine between the end of last year’s MVC Tournament and the start of this year’s tournament.
- Fortunately for Valpo, none of those 100 days fell during the team’s 27 games, as Krikke is the lone player to have started all 27 regular-season contests for Matt Lottich’s team this season.
- However, the time in quarantine did impact Krikke’s ability to prepare for the season and stay in shape, making his jump this year even more impressive.
- Five of the quarantines came due to contact tracing, while two others occurred due to international travel back and forth between his native Edmonton.
- On the bright side, Krikke picked up a new hobby of learning about and following the stock market during his numerous quarantines.
- The sophomore forward is on pace to become a 1,000-point scorer at Valpo as he owns 551 career points. Fellow sophomore Donovan Clay is Valpo’s active leader as he recently crossed the 600-point threshold and enters Arch Madness at 601.
Battling on the Boards
- Valpo won the rebounding battle 40-22 over Indiana State in the Feb. 27 regular-season finale, a rebounding margin of +18 that marked the team’s best in any game since Dec. 20, 2018 vs. Purdue Northwest.
- That represented Valpo’s largest rebounding margin against a Division-I opponent since holding a 32-rebound edge vs. Samford on Nov. 21, 2017.
- Valpo has now outrebounded its opponent in three of the last five games with one of the games where Valpo was outrebounded during that stretch featuring just a one-board disparity.
- Prior to this five-game stretch, rebounding had been a major bugaboo for the Brown & Gold, who had been outrebounded in eight straight and 18 of the first 22 games this season.
A Rebounding Lift
- One major lift in terms of rebounding has come in the form of Eron Gordon, who ranks second on the team with 5.0 rpg and is tied for the team lead at 5.6 rpg in conference play.
- The fifth-year senior ranks among the top rebounding guards in the MVC and is seventh among all MVC players in defensive rebounds per game at 4.7.
- Gordon has led the team in rebounding 11 times this year after not doing so at all last season.
- The younger brother of Houston Rockets veteran Eric Gordon, Eron finished ninth on the team in rebounding last season at 2.3 rebounds per contest overall and 2.6 in league play.
- Gordon did not have more than five boards in any of his 35 games last season, while this year he has 11 games of more than five rebounds and 10 with seven or more.
A Milestone Victory
- The win over Indiana State in the Feb. 27 season finale also marked an all-time milestone for Valpo’s program.
- The program hit the 1,400-victory mark in its proud history.
- Entering Arch Madness, Valpo boasts an all-time record of 1400-1255.
Sustained Home Success
- Thanks to a win over Indiana State in the home finale, Valpo finished 6-6 at home this season.
- The Athletics-Recreation Center has provided a distinct homecourt advantage over the years as Valpo has not finished with a losing mark at the ARC since 1991-92.
- The program finished with a record of .500 or better at home for the 29th consecutive season.
- Valpo has enjoyed double-figure home win totals in nine of the last 10 seasons prior to this unusual, pandemic-altered year. Due to health and safety regulations, fans were unable to pack the ARC as they have in years past.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Feb. 27 (Valpo 70, Indiana State 58)
- The Brown & Gold secured the double-figure victory despite equaling a season high with 19 turnovers, a number previously reached in an early-season game vs. Purdue Northwest. Valpo picked up its first win when losing the turnover battle this season, improving to 1-9 in those games.
- The hosts went 8-of-14 from 3-point range for a season-best percentage of 57.1.
- This game was the latest example of what a difference a day makes, as Valpo led by as many as 28 and won by 12 a day after a 15-point setback to the Sycamores. Valpo shot 54 percent, its second-highest clip of the season, a day after shooting a season-low 29.1 percent.
- Valpo handed the Sycamores just their second loss in their last 12 regular-season games.
- Valpo used a 17-0 run in the first half and led by as many as 28, but Indiana State closed to within eight with 6:16 to go thanks in part to a 13-0 run.
- Ben Krikke finished in double figures for the 20th time this season.
Notes Wrapping up Feb. 26 (Indiana State 58, Valpo 43)
- The Sycamores led by as many as 23 and enjoyed a 19-0 first-half scoring run.
- Valpo defended the 3-point arc well, limiting Indiana State to 3-of-20 from long distance.
- Valpo had just nine turnovers, its sixth game this season with fewer than 10. However, the Sycamores coughed it up just five times, the second-fewest forced by Valpo all season.
- Valpo shot just 29.1 percent, the team’s lowest field-goal percentage since Feb. 5, 2020 at UNI (28.1 percent).
- Valpo has used a larger lineup over the last five games, featuring Sheldon Edwards (6-foot-4), Eron Gordon (6-3), Donovan Clay (6-7), Ben Krikke (6-9) and Mileek McMillan (6-8) with Jacob Ogancevic (6-8) seeing significant run off the bench.
- The new-look lineup was created in part out of necessity due to starters Daniel Sackey and Connor Barrett both being sidelined with injuries. Sackey has since returned after missing three contests, coming off the bench in both games vs. Indiana State.
- Donovan Clay had started 53 straight games before coming off the bench for the two games at UNI on Feb. 13-14, but has since returned to the starting five.
- Sackey had started every game this season before missing the Feb. 17 game at Loyola due to an injury.
- Ben Krikke is the only Valpo player who has started every game this year.
- Valpo closed out the regular season with a stretch of 16 Missouri Valley Conference games in a 39-day span as Valpo was among the conference’s busiest teams after early-season postponements.
- By comparison, Valpo played three games over the previous 31 days before beginning the stretch of seemingly nonstop competition.
- Six of Valpo’s first eight Missouri Valley Conference games were postponed due to COVID-19, causing the backlog of makeup games during this busy stretch.
- Valpo didn’t practice from Dec. 20-Jan. 4 leading into the start of the conference season. The team also had a two-week pause shortly before the start of the nonconference slate in November.
- Three nonconference games were cancelled and two were added during a challenging season for schedule-makers.
- In all, Valpo has had nine games either cancelled or postponed. In addition, two Missouri Valley Conference series (at Evansville, at UNI) were pushed back one day from the original dates to make room for makeup games.
Rising to the Occasion
- Three of Valpo’s best performances all season have come against Top 25 competition, with the Brown & Gold earning the fourth nationally-ranked win in program history on Feb. 7 by blitzing No. 25 Drake 74-57, a win that was sandwiched around one-possession setbacks to Top 25 teams.
- Valpo narrowly missed its first Top 25 road win in program history on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Loyola, falling 54-52. The two-point margin of defeat was the closest Valpo has ever come to winning a true road game against an AP Top 25 foe in 42 opportunities. The previous closest call was Dec. 30, 2001, a 74-70 loss at No. 14 Arizona.
- Counting a Dec. 4 game against a Purdue team that went on to earn a Top 25 ranking later in the season, Valpo has played five games against teams that have been ranked at some point this year during the 2020-21 campaign. Valpo has led at halftime in four of the five contests (with the lone exception being the first game vs. Loyola).
- Valpo was 2-65 against AP Top 25 teams prior to Matt Lottich’s promotion to head coach and owns a 2-5 record since, a mark that easily could be 4-3 with two losses to ranked teams by three points or fewer this season.
- To make the performance even more impressive, Valpo pushed Loyola to the brink despite playing without two usual starters as Connor Barrett and Daniel Sackey were both sidelined by injuries.
A Win That Ranks Up There
- Valpo earned its fourth victory in program history over an Associated Press Top 25 team on Sunday, Feb. 7, upsetting previously undefeated No. 25 Drake 74-57. Two of the four victories against nationally-ranked opponents have come under head coach Matt Lottich’s watch as his team knocked off No. 21/25 Rhode Island 65-62 in 2016-17, Lottich’s first season at the helm.
- Prior to Lottich assuming head coaching duties, Valpo was just 2-65 all-time against ranked teams (1998 NCAA Tournament "The Shot" vs. Ole Miss; 1988 "Lutheran Miracle" vs. Notre Dame).
- Of the 22 head coaches in Valpo Basketball history, only Matt Lottich and National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Famer Homer Drew have coached the team to wins over nationally-ranked opponents. Lottich and Drew have two Top 25 wins apiece, with Lottich’s coming in his first five seasons while Drew finished with two during his 22-year run.
- Valpo has won two of its last three home games against Top 25 teams with the loss coming by just three points to Drake in the Saturday, Feb. 6 matchup.
Valpo Basketball, All-Time AP Top 25 Victories
Opponent Date Score
- #25 Drake 2-7-21 W 74-57
- #21 Rhode Island 11-29-16 W 65-62
- #13 Ole Miss* 3-13-98 W 70-69
- #19 Notre Dame 12-17-88 W 71-68 (OT)
*NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Never A Doubt
- Not only did Valpo upstage a quality and experienced No. 25 Drake team on Sunday, Feb. 7, but it did so in lopsided fashion. The 17-point margin of victory matched Valpo’s largest in a regular-season Missouri Valley Conference game since joining the league.
- Valpo owns two other 17-point wins in MVC play, February 2020 vs. Southern Illinois and January 2018 vs. Drake. In addition, the team had a 22-point win over Indiana State in conference tournament action.
- The 17-point cushion was the program’s largest over a nationally-ranked foe by a wide margin as the previous three wins were all decided by three points or fewer.
- Lock-down defense paved the way to the rout as Valpo held a team that entered the day averaging 82.8 points per game to a season-low 57, 11 points below the Bulldogs’ previous season floor.
- Sheldon Edwards’ dunk from the Sunday, Feb. 7 victory over No. 25 Drake checked in at No. 7 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays late that night.
- This marks the third time in the last two years Valpo basketball has produced an #SCTop10 play. Since joining the Missouri Valley Conference, Valpo Athletics have been featured on the popular daily countdown on nine occasions spanning five sports – men’s basketball (four times), women's basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball (twice).
- The poster slam also landed on ESPN.com’s college basketball homepage on Sunday.
Unbeaten No More
- Valpo faced a team with a perfect record of 18-0 or better for the first time in at least 20 years when Drake arrived at the ARC for the Sunday, Feb. 7 game. Valpo’s most recent game against a team with an undefeated record this late in the season prior to this past weekend is believed to be a 1979-80 matchup with DePaul when the Blue Demons entered at 20-0.
- Previously, the team with the best record that Valpo had faced over the last two decades was 12-0 North Carolina on Dec. 20, 2008 at the United Center.
- Entering Feb. 7, Valpo was 2-10 against undefeated teams that had played five or more games since the start of the 1999-2000 season. In addition, Valpo garnered its first win over a team with an unblemished mark of 7-0 or better in that span as Valpo was 0-8 against those opponents before the win over the Bulldogs.
- Drake was one of three remaining undefeated teams in the nation at the time of Valpo’s victory. Coincidentally, both remaining teams with undefeated records feature Valpo connections, as Baylor is under the direction of former Valpo head coach Scott Drew and former Valpo assistant coach Roger Powell serves on Gonzaga’s staff.
Youth vs. Experience
- The Valpo/Drake matchup pitted one of the nation’s oldest teams against a Valpo team that depends heavily on freshmen and sophomores.
- Drake boasts an average age of 21.5 years old and has a starting five with an average age of 23.3. That starting lineup is older than the starting five of three teams in the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls who have an average starters’ age of 21.6.
- Conversely, Valpo started two freshmen and two sophomores in both games this weekend. On Saturday, freshmen and sophomores combined for 56 of Valpo’s 77 points (72.7 percent), while on Sunday underclassmen accounted for 46 out of 74 points (62.2 percent).
- Drake received only 15 of its 80 points (18.8 percent) from freshmen and sophomores on Saturday before underclassmen made up just nine of their 48 points (18.8 percent) on Sunday.
- Valpo outscored Drake 102-24 in points by freshmen and sophomores over the two games.
A Look Back at 2019-20: Just two years removed from finishing in last place and being knocked out in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament as a first-year Valley member, head coach Matt Lottich’s team did more than hold its own, ascending into a tie for sixth in the league standings before finishing as the conference tournament runner-up. Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness to reach the title game after playing in the opening round.
- Sophomore Donovan Clay was named to the Preseason MVC Second Team.
- Valpo was picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll based on a survey of the conference’s head coaches, media members and sports information directors.
- Valpo exceeded preseason expectations a year ago after being picked to finish ninth. The Brown & Gold tied for sixth in the regular-season standings and went on to finish as the conference tournament runner-up.
Who’s Back, Who’s New?
- This year’s team features 11 returning letter winners (nine scholarship, two walk-on) to go along with six newcomers (four scholarship, two walk-on).
- Three letter winners departed from last year’s team.
- Valpo returns 59.2 percent of its scoring and 64.3 percent of its rebounding from last season. Both numbers are up from a year ago, when Valpo returned just 40.1 percent of its scoring and 35.7 percent of its rebounding from 2018-19.
- Last season, the entire roster was from either Indiana, Illinois or outside the United States. This year, Valpo has added three additional states to the mix in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida.
- Still, six players hail from Illinois and four from Indiana. The six Illinois natives are the most since 2015-16.
- Coincidentally, Valpo’s last player from the state of Florida before Sheldon Edwards shares the same last name. Lakeland native Richie Edwards played for the Brown & Gold during the 2011-2012 campaign.
- Goodnews Kpegeol is the first Valpo player from the state of Minnesota since Cory Johnson’s final season on campus in 2010-2011.
- Jacob Ognacevic is Valpo’s first player from Wisconsin since Andrew Ferry in 2008-2009.
Arrow Pointed Up
- Valpo made its first conference championship appearance since 2015, doing so after being picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll.
- Valpo reached the conference title game as only a third-year Missouri Valley Conference member. When Valpo transitioned from the Mid-Continent Conference to the Horizon League prior to the 2007-2008 season, the program didn’t reach the conference championship game until Year 5 and followed by winning its first Horizon League Tournament title in Year 6.
- The men’s basketball program became the first Valpo team in any sport to reach the Missouri Valley Conference championship game during the department’s young tenure in the prestigious league.
- Valpo accepted a postseason tournament invitation for the first time since joining The Valley, agreeing to a CollegeInsider.com Tournament berth before the event was canceled due to the coronavirus.
- The program had its largest win increase from the previous season (four) since jumping from 18 wins in 2013-14 to 28 in 2014-15.
- Valpo finished with a winning record during the nonconference portion of the season for the 10th straight year. In addition, Valpo continued its history of home dominance and hasn’t finished with a losing mark at the ARC since 1991-92, extending its streak to 28 seasons. Valpo achieved a double-figure home win total for the ninth time in the last 10 years.
2019-20 Team Statistical Feats
- Led the Missouri Valley Conference in assists per game at 15.2, the first time Valpo led a conference in that area since pacing the Horizon League in 2011-2012. The 15.2 assists per game was Valpo’s highest total since 2010-11 (15.8 apg) and the team’s second-highest output over the last 13 seasons. The squad ranked 29th nationally in assists per game and 12th in total assists.
- Averaged 7.7 steals per game to rank second in the MVC and totaled 270 steals, a number that ranked 18th The team had its highest steals average since 2010-11 and the second-highest over the last 16 seasons.
- The team averaged 72.3 points per game, second in the MVC. That was the team’s second-highest scoring average over the last eight seasons. In addition, the team jumped 5.5 points per game from 2018-19 to 2019-20.
- Valpo made 287 3-pointers, the team’s second-most since 2008-09 and the third-most over the last 30 years.
- The team had 922 made field goals, its third most over the last 30 years.
- Valpo committed just 12.7 turnovers per game, the team’s lowest total over the last 30 seasons.
2020 Arch Madness Accomplishments
- The Valpo/Loyola quarterfinal was the 18th overtime game in MVC Tournament history and the 20th game decided by a single point. It was the first one-point game in the MVC Tournament since Indiana State’s 51-50 victory over Evansville in 2013.
- Valpo’s 89 points in the MVC semifinal against Missouri State were the seventh-most in a game in the 30-year history of Arch Madness. It was the highest scoring output in any MVC Tournament contest since Creighton put 99 on Evansville on March 3, 2012.
- Valpo scored 287 points in the MVC Tournament, the third most in the history of the event and the most since Indiana State scored 310 in 1978.
- The team’s 138 rebounds were the fourth most in MVC Tournament history and the most since Tulsa had 143 in 1978.
- The 107 made field goals were the third most in MVC Tournament history and the most since Indiana State in 1978.
- The 29 made 3-point field goals tied for the second most in MVC Tournament history (despite going 0-for against Evansville), joining 2009 Illinois State (32) and 1999 Evansville (29).
- The 90 3-point field goal attempts shattered the previous tournament record of 76 (Drake 2008, Illinois State 2009).
- Valpo made 10 3-pointers in the conference championship game, tying for the fourth most in the history of the MVC Final just a few days removed from hitting no 3s in a win over Evansville. Valpo became the first team to make zero 3s in an MVC Tournament Game since Southern Illinois went 0-for-6 on March 5, 1994 vs. Missouri State.
- Valpo’s 29 3-point attempts in the MVC final tied for the second most in the history of the title game, joining Illinois State in 2009 (35 vs. UNI 2009) and Illinois State in 2012 (29 vs. Creighton).
- Only one team since 1994 had made 15 or more field goals in the first half of an MVC title game (Drake 16 vs. Illinois State in 2008), and Valpo and Bradley had 15 apiece in the first half of this year’s championship game.
- Valpo made seven 3s in the first half of the title game against Bradley, tying the MVC Tournament title game record of seven set by Southern Illinois on March 7, 1989 vs. Creighton. Valpo set the conference title game record for 3-point attempts in the first half with 16, eclipsing the previous mark of 15 set by Illinois State on March 8, 2009 vs. UNI.
- Ryan Fazekas’ 21 3-point attempts in the MVC Tournament tied for the ninth-most in the history of the event.
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 19th year on staff and has served under four different head coaches. The Valpo veteran has helped the team to eight postseason berths in the last 10 years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He oversees the team’s post players in addition to leading Valpo’s scheduling and scouting efforts.
- Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his third season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.
- Assistant coach Matt Bowen returned to Valpo’s staff in 2018-19 after previously spending four seasons with the Brown & Gold from 2002-2006. He was the head coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2012-2018. Bowen coordinates the team’s offense.
- Director of Basketball Operations Jason Karys is in his second season in that capacity, but has been around the program in a variety of roles, spending two years as a graduate assistant, one as a walk-on player and three as a manager.
- Bob Brooks is in his 17th year as Valpo Director of Strength & Conditioning at Valpo and has returned to oversight of men’s basketball strength & conditioning in 2020-21. He has worked with Valpo teams since 1994.
- Graduate Assistant Peter Funk is in his second year in that role after three years as an undergraduate manager.
- Athletic trainer Ken DeAngelis is in his second season full-time at Valpo after previously earning his master’s degree from the University in 2012 while spending two years as a graduate assistant athletic trainer.
Tradition of Excellence
- Valpo has 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and four NIT berths in the program’s proud history, with the team’s postseason success highlighted by a Sweet Sixteen run in 1998.
- The program has produced nine All-Americans, won 18 regular season conference championships and 10 conference tournament crowns.
- Valpo also boasts eight NBA players, 10 conference players of the year and 20 20-win seasons.
- Nine of the team’s NCAA appearances have come since 1996.
- Valpo has qualified for the postseason eight times in the last 10 years, including last year where Valpo accepted a postseason berth but the tournament was not played due to COVID-19.
- Valpo has developed a myriad of professional basketball players over the last quarter century, most notably a pair of NBA players in the last three 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 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. He has gone on to a successful career overseas with CSKA Moscow (2018-2019), Anadolu Efes (2019-2020) and Kirolbet Baskonia (2020-present).
- Valpo has produced over 50 professional players in the last 25 years.
#0 Goodnews Kpegeol, R-So. (St. Paul, Minn.)
- Put together his first career double-double with personal bests in both points (12) and rebounds (11) in the Feb. 27 regular-season finale vs. Indiana State.
- Matched a season high with 10 points on Feb. 17 at No. 22/23 Loyola, his third straight game with seven points or more.
- Posted his highest scoring output in conference play with eight in the Feb. 13 win at UNI, making a pair of 3s after entering the night with just one made triple this season. He added two assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
- Squeezed a season-high seven rebounds on Jan. 16 at DePaul to share the team lead. Also went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to finish with eight points in addition to swiping three steals.
- Posted the first double-figure scoring output of his collegiate career with 10 points on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
- Scored his first collegiate points and finished with nine in 27 minutes of action on Dec. 4 at Purdue.
- Made his Valpo debut in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Joins the program as a junior college transfer after averaging 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds at Southwest Mississippi in 2019-20.
- Started the 2018-19 season at Taylor Made Prep in Pensacola, Fla., then transfered to Kansas State at the semester break and sat out the remainder of that season due to transfer rules.
- Was a four-year letter winner at North High School in St. Paul, leading his team to a 22-5 overall mark and 15-1 conference record as a senior.
- Played his high school basketball for Damian Johnson, who played collegiately at the University of Minnesota before going on to a professional career from 2010-2016. Johnson was teammates with Valpo head coach Matt Lottich when both played for the Oita Heat Devils in Japan in 2010-2011.
- First name comes from his parents’ belief that he could bring something good into the world.
#1 Sigurd Lorange, So. (Trondheim, Norway)
- Scored five points in the final three minutes on Feb. 22 at Southern Illinois, his first action since December after missing time with an injury.
- Appeared in nine games in 2019-20 before having his rookie season cut short by a hip injury.
- Averaged 2.9 points per contest while shooting a robust 60 percent (6-of-10) from 3-point land in limited action.
- Played all kinds of sports as a child. His best three sports were soccer, handball and basketball. There were phases of his life where he wanted to pursue soccer or handball, but eventually figured out that basketball was the most fun sport for him.
#2 Zion Morgan, R-Sr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Equaled a career high with 15 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in the Feb. 27 win vs. Indiana State.
- Scored in double figures for the second time in a three-game span with a career-high 15 points on Feb. 17 at No. 22/23 Loyola. He did so on 6-of-9 shooting and went 2-for-2 from 3 after entering the game 0-for-10 from 3 in his Valpo career.
- Posted a career-high 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting while adding two assists and a steal in the Feb. 13 win at UNI.
- Made his season debut on Jan. 28 vs. Bradley after missing the season’s first 13 games.
- Appeared in 28 games during his first season at Valpo in 2019-20.
- Joined the program as a junior college transfer after two seasons at Wabash Valley College.
- Started his collegiate career by playing in 27 games and making five starts at UNLV in 2016-17.
- Was teammates with Valpo’s Nick Robinson at Kenwood Academy in Chicago.
#3 Steven Helm III, R-So. (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Hit four crucial free throws, two in each game, to ice Valpo’s victories at Illinois State in the closing seconds on Jan. 23-24.
- Handed out a team-high five assists and scored his first collegiate points in the Dec. 6 victory over Judson.
- Made his Valpo debut on Dec. 4 at Purdue and recorded a plus-minus of +12 to lead the team.
- Spent the last two years in Japan serving a mission for his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Started his collegiate career at Carroll College, where he competed in both basketball and track & field.
- Connected at a 47.1 percent clip from 3-point range and a 94.2 percent clip from the foul line.
- Qualified for nationals in track & field and helped his basketball team to the national tournament while at Carroll.
- Transferred to Valpo and sat out the 2017-18 basketball season while competing in track & field that spring.
- Led his Valparaiso High School team to a 20-7 record as a senior, averaging a team-high 16.1 points/game along with 3.5 assists/game.
- Mother is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Valpo. Father Steve Jr. was an NAIA Third Team All-American at Montana State University-Northern and went on to play for the American Basketball Association’s Indiana Legends after his collegiate career. Steve Jr. followed his playing days with a coaching career that featured four seasons as an assistant on the Valpo women’s basketball staff.
- Considers himself a "movie buff" and "Star Wars nerd." Saving Private Ryan and Star Wards Episode 3 are his favorite movies.
#4 Daniel Sackey, Jr. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
- Shattered a career high by squeezing nine rebounds on Jan. 28 vs. Bradley. His previous personal best was six.
- Matched a season high with eight assists in each game on Jan. 23-24 at Illinois State. In the second game against the Redbirds, he poured in 16 points for the second-highest scoring output of his career and highest this season.
- Contributed a season-high nine points and six boards on Jan. 16 at DePaul, equaling a career high on the glass with his fourth career six-rebound game and first this season.
- Finished with his highest assist total since his nine-dime effort on Dec. 18, 2019 by handing out eight helpers on Dec. 9, 2020 vs. SIUE. Also swiped four steals, matching a career high with his second career four-steal effort.
- Put together a balanced line of six points, five rebounds and six assists in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt - the first time in his collegiate career that he’s had five or more in all three categories in the same game. Also swiped four steals, equaling a career high.
- Ranked fifth in the MVC and second among sophomores at 3.6 assists per game… Had a team-high 121 assists to go along with 6.3 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game and 35 steals while averaging 25.5 minutes over 34 contests (25 starts) as a sophomore in 2019-20.
- Made a buzzer-beater to upstage Canadian powerhouse Carleton in overtime in August 2019, making an appearance on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at No. 9 that evening.
- Has been a drummer since elementary school. The basement of his family’s home in Canada includes a small recording studio. He has a deep passion for music.
- Became just the sixth Manitoban to earn a scholarship in Division-I men’s basketball since the NCAA reorganized into its current competitive format in 1973.
#5 Donovan Clay, So. (Alton, Ill.)
- Scored 16 points in the first half on Feb. 10 vs. Bradley on his way to a game-high 17.
- Squeezed a career-high 14 rebounds in the Feb. 7 upset of No. 25 Drake.
- Made his 50th consecutive start on Feb. 1 at Evansville and scored a team-high 14 points.
- Enjoyed his second career double-double and first 20-point, 10-rebound effort on Jan. 23 at Illinois State. He became the fourth Valpo player during the Matt Lottich Era with a 20-point double-double, squeezing 12 rebounds in the triumph.
- Enjoyed the fourth 20-point game of his career and his second this season with a season-high 21 points on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State.
- Became the second MVC player with a 13-rebound effort this season on Dec. 19 at Toledo, in the process securing his first career double-double and the first by a Valpo player in 2020-21. He scored a team-high 17 points to complement his effort on the glass.
- Became the first Missouri Valley Conference player with a five-block game this season on Dec. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest, also becoming the first Valpo player to stuff five shots in a game since Jaume Sorolla on Jan. 26, 2019 vs. Drake.
- Enjoyed his first 20-point output of the season and the third of his collegiate career to lead the team on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan. That marked his first 20-point effort in a road game at the collegiate level.
- Led the team in scoring with 12 points on Dec. 1 at UIC.
- Named to the MVC Preseason Second Team
- Leading into the season, put a lot of time into his shot, agility and being able to run faster and jump higher.
- Was one of two Valpo players to compete in all 35 games and made 33 starts during his freshman campaign.
- Was third on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg) and second in rebounding (4.6 ppg) while leading the team in blocked shots with 36 in 2019-20.
- Earned a place on the MVC All-Freshman Team in 2019-20.
- Scored in double figures on 19 occasions including eight outputs of 15+ points and two of 20+ points. He scored in double figures just once over his first seven games and then did so in 18 of the next 28.
- Is a high-level video game player, following in the footsteps of former Valpo sharp-shooter Ryan Fazekas. Enjoys playing NBA 2K games online all the time. Also enjoys tossing a football or baseball in his spare time.
#10 Eron Gordon, R-Sr. (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Posted his first career double-double by matching a season high with 14 points and pulling down a personal-best 10 rebounds in the Jan. 23 win at Illinois State.
- Led the team in scoring for a third straight game and rebounding for a fourth straight game with five boards to go along with a season-high 14 points on Jan. 20 vs. Loyola.
- Led the team in rebounding for the third straight game on Jan. 16 at DePaul, pulling down seven boards to go along with a team-high 12 points. He paced Valpo in scoring for the second straight game after not doing so at all in any of his first 44 career contests.
- Shared the team lead with a season-high 13 points on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State, pacing the squad in scoring for the first time in his Valpo career.
- Posted the eighth double figure scoring output of his Valpo career and his first of the season with 10 points on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
- Made his first start of the season, his fifth overall at Valpo and his first since Jan. 29, 2020 at Bradley in the Dec. 4 game at Purdue.
- Led the team on the glass for the first time in his Valpo career by squeezing a career-high eight rebounds in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Was one of two players on the team who appeared in all 35 games in 2019-20.
- Made the go-ahead layup with three seconds left in overtime in Valpo’s 74-73 upset win over Loyola in the MVC quarterfinal to help the Brown & Gold complete an 18-point rally. That was the 25th time since the start of the 1992-93 season that Valpo prevailed on a game-winner in the final five seconds.
- Became the third Valpo player to hit a game-winner in the final five seconds of a conference tournament or postseason game since 1992-93, joining Ryan Broekhoff (2013 vs. Green Bay) and Bryce Drew (1998 vs. Ole Miss).
- Joined the program in 2018-19 but sat out due to transfer rules. Appeared in 48 games over his two years at Seton Hall.
- Oldest brother Eric was the seventh pick of the 2008 NBA Draft and has played 11 seasons in the NBA. Father Eric is one of the Top 20 all-time scorers at Liberty. Brother Evan is playing in the CBA after scoring over 1,300 points at the Division-I level at Liberty, Arizona State and Indiana.
- Enjoys filming and editing videos and podcasting.
- Enjoys travel and features his destinations on one of his YouTube channels.
- Future plans include playing professional basketball, pursuing broadcast journalism and contributing to the family business, E3 Basketball Academy.
#11 Emil Freese-Vilien, Fr. (Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Made his season debut on Feb. 10 vs. Bradley.
- Appeared in 16 games and averaged 6.6 minutes per contest while totaling 16 points, four blocked shots, five assists and 15 rebounds (six offensive boards) during his rookie campaign in 2019-20.
- Started playing basketball in November 2014 after playing badminton during his younger years.
- Played for Denmark at both the U16 and U18 FIBA Euro Championships in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
- Shortly before coming to Valpo, played for Vaerlose in the Danish Basketligaen, the highest professional league in Denmark.
- Majoring in civil engineering
- Has been very interested in drawing for many years. Wanted to become an architect for a long time and still has that dream in the back of his mind. Spends a lot of time drawing blueprints and houses.
#12 Tyler Fricke, Fr. (Arlington Heights, Ill.)
- Made his collegiate debut and scored his first points with a pair of free throws in the Dec. 6 victory over Judson.
- Joined the Valpo program as a walk-on for the 2020-21 season.
- Father Scott coached Valpo head coach Matt Lottich at New Trier High School during Lottich’s playing days.
- Brother Zach pitches for the Valpo baseball team.
#13 Sheldon Edwards, Fr. (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
- Had his third straight game in double figures and his fourth straight multi-steal game with 10 points and three swipes on Feb. 10 vs. Bradley.
- Matched a career high with 20 points on Feb. 6 vs. No. 25 Drake before adding 11 on Feb. 7 in an upset victory over the Bulldogs. In the Feb. 7 triumph, he slammed home a thunderous dunk that ranked No. 7 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that evening. For his efforts, Edwards was named the MVC Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 8 while also earning College Sports Madness MVC Player of the Week honors.
- Led the team with 18 points, including 11 in the two overtime periods, to lift Valpo to an 91-85 victory over Bradley on Jan. 28.
- Scored 19 points over the two games vs. Missouri State on Jan. 9-10.
- Poured in a personal-best 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting with eight rebounds on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
- Reached double figures for the first time in his Valpo career with a 10-point showing on Dec. 6 vs. Judson.
- Became the seventh Valpo freshman in the last 20 years to start the season opener on Nov. 27 at Vanderbilt.
- Averaged 21.2 points and 7.6 rebounds as a senior at Palm Beach Lakes High School in 2018-19.
- Spent a postgraduate year at TLAP Sports Academy in Port St. Lucie, Fla. during the 2019-20 season, averaging 32 points per game and five rebounds per contest while turning in two games of 40+ points.
- Favorite NBA player is Steph Curry, but he models his game after the likes of Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal. When he’s not playing basketball, the Valpo freshman spends much of his free time watching it.
#15 Luke Morrill, So. (Lombard, Ill.)
- Joined the program as a walk-on prior to the 2019-20 season.
- Saw action in five games, totaling nine minutes and accruing five points and two rebounds during his first season on campus.
- Majoring in computer engineering.
- Considers Valpo teammate Donovan Clay "like a brother" to him after the two were roommates as freshmen and during the spring 2020 COVID-19 quarantine.
- Enjoys fishing and wakesurfing, which is surfing in the boat’s wake without being directly pulled by the boat.
#20/21 Brock Pappas, Jr. (Valparaiso, Ind.)
- Made his season debut on Dec. 6 vs. Judson.
- Nursing major who joined the program as a walk-on in 2018-19.
- Is a Valparaiso, Ind. native and a graduate of nearby Washington Township.
- Mother (Lisa) has worked on Valpo’s campus for 32 years, currently serving as an administrative assistant in the Department of Education. Brother (Bryce) and father (Steve) are both Valpo graduates.
- Is the first boys basketball player in Washington Township High School history to play at the Division-I level.
- Grew up attending Valpo games and remembers being a young child who looked up to Valpo basketball players.
- Has always been interested in working with kids. Initially wanted to be a teacher but decided pediatric nursing is the field for him.
#22 Mileek McMillan, Sr. (Merrillville, Ind.)
- Went 4-of-7 shooting on his way to 10 points in the Feb. 13 win at UNI, his first double-figure scoring output since the season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Drained four 3s on his way to a team-high 18 points on opening night at Vanderbilt on Nov. 27, when he finished two points shy of a career high and equaled a personal best with seven made field goals.
- Was named to the MVC Most-Improved Team after upping his scoring average from 2.8 points per game as a sophomore to 8.8 points per game as a junior in 2019-20.
- Started all 34 games that he played as a junior after making just one start and averaging 8.1 minutes per game as a sophomore.
- Over doubled his rebounding average from the previous season, going from 1.5 to 3.2 in 2019-20. After making 10 3-pointers as a sophomore, he made 40 during his junior campaign and shot 42.3 percent from distance during conference play.
- Enjoys playing with his dog, roller skating and playing chess... Likes to look at the sky, especially prior to rainfall or during a sunset... Is a big fan of nature and the sound of trains.
- Twin brother Mahqueese attends Cal State Los Angeles.
- Was cut from his middle school basketball team in seventh grade, made the "B" team in eighth grade and missed his freshman year of high school with an injury.
#23 Ben Krikke, So. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)
- Scored in double figures for the 20th time this season in the Feb. 27 regular-season finale, scoring 14 points in the win over Indiana State.
- Enjoyed his third straight game of 18+ points by scoring 18 on 7-of-9 shooting to lead the team on Jan. 31 at Evansville, then equaled a career high with four assists on Feb. 1 in the second game of the back-to-back against the Purple Aces.
- Was named the Missouri Valley Conference player of the week on Jan. 26, the first weekly conference honor of his collegiate career.
- Became just the third Valpo player in the last 25 years with a 25-point, 15-rebound game on Jan. 24 at Illinois State.
- Shattered his previous season high by halftime with 17 first-half points on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State on his way to a career-high 21. He joined Javon Freeman-Liberty, Tevonn Walker and Alec Peters as the only four Valpo players with 17+ points in a first half during Matt Lottich’s head coaching tenure (fifth season).
- Posted 16 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting in the Dec. 19 game at Toledo. The eight field goals marked a career high and the 16-point game was two shy of a personal best.
- Tied a career high with seven rebounds on Dec. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest.
- Had his fourth double-figure scoring output in the season’s first six games with 12 points to go along with a career-high three blocked shots on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan. He became the first Valpo player with three blocked shots in a game this season.
- Scored in double figures in each of the first two games of the 2020-21 season (at Vanderbilt, at UIC), the first set of back-to-back double-figure outputs in the sophomore’s collegiate career. His second straight double-figure showing featured 11 points on an efficient 4-of-5 shooting on Dec. 1 at UIC.
- Made his second career start and first against a Division-I opponent in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt. Finished with 13 points, all in the second half, in a career-high 34 minutes.
- Leading into the season, spent time working on improving his shooting and hitting shots at a higher rate, especially from 3. Also worked on bulking up and improving his strength, dribbling and ball-handling. Hopes to be versatile enough to play on the perimeter if needed.
- Appeared in 33 games and made one start during his freshman season… Averaged 6.7 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per contest while blocking 15 shots, coming away with 15 steals, shooting 79.2 percent at the foul line, draining 14 3s and handing out 22 assists… Shot 55.0 percent from the field, finishing fifth in the conference and second among freshmen in field-goal percentage.
- Hails from Edmonton, a very devout hockey city, but says basketball there is on the upswing.
- Never played ice hockey, but did compete in badminton, volleyball and various track & field events.
- Loves to go fishing in the summer. Also enjoys mountain biking and chess, which he learned from his grandfather.
#25 Nick Robinson, R-Sr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Has opted out of the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
#34 Jacob Ognacevic, Fr. (Sheboygan, Wis.)
- Had 19 points in the Feb. 27 win vs. Indiana State, his personal best vs. a D-I foe, thanks in part to a 5-of-6 performance from beyond the 3-point arc. He became the first Valpo player to hit five 3s vs. a Division-I team this season, and the fifth MVC player to shoot 83.3 percent or better with at least four attempts from 3 in a single game this year.
- Posted a Division-I career high and shared the team lead with 15 points in the Feb. 21 win at Southern Illinois.
- Had a team-best +19 in the plus/minus on Feb. 13 at UNI, seeing his most run in MVC play with 19 minutes of action. He shared the team lead with 12 points, finishing in double figures for the third time in a four-game span.
- Came off the bench and accounted for 11 points in each of Valpo’s matchups with No. 25 Drake on Feb. 6-7, shooting at an 8-of-13 clip over the two games.
- Shared team high honors with 13 points in just 12 minutes on an efficient 4-of-7 shooting on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State.
- Went off for 20 points in the home opener on Dec. 6 vs. Judson. This marks the seventh consecutive year that at least one Valpo player has scored 20+ points in the home opener. He and Connor Barrett became the first freshman tandem to each score 17+ points in the same game in over 20 years.
- Drained four triples in just 14 minutes of action to achieve double figures for the first time in his collegiate career with 12 on Dec. 4 at Purdue.
- Made his collegiate debut in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt, knocking down a 3 with his only shot attempt of the game to account for his first career points.
- Named to The Associated Press All-State First Team following his senior season at Sheboygan Lutheran in 2019-20 while also earning Herald Times Player of the Year, All-Big East Conference Player of the Year and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State First-Team status.
- Was a finalist for Wisconsin Mr. Basketball.
- Led his team to a 27-2 record and the state championship in Wisconsin Division 5 during his junior season in 2018-19 and was on the way to a repeat before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to COVID-19.
- Became the 38th player in the history of Wisconsin high school basketball to accumulate 2,000 career points, reaching the milestone on Jan. 23, 2020 with a 54-point game against Ozaukee
- Shattered the Sheboygan Lutheran scoring record that was previously held by Sam Dekker, who played in the NBA from 2015-2019 with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards…
- Is a big fan of mixed martial arts and roots for all Boston professional sports teams.
#35 Connor Barrett, Fr. (Chicago, Ill.)
- Is expected to miss the remainder of the season with an injury.
- Finished with 12 points thanks to four made 3s on Jan. 23 at Illinois State, his fifth double-figure output as a freshman and his fourth game with three or more 3-pointers.
- Had five steals on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State, joining the short list of Valpo players with five or more steals in a game during the Matt Lottich Era (fifth season): Javon Freeman-Liberty (3), Lexus Williams (3) and Tevonn Walker (2).
- Scored 14 points on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan, his second double-figure scoring output in a three-game span. That effort was highlighted at the foul line, where he went 6-for-6.
- Knocked down five 3s in the home opener vs. Judson on Dec. 6, becoming the first freshman with five treys in a game since 2013-2014 and the first Valpo player to do so in the first four games of his freshman season since 2006-07.
- Accrued his first collegiate points (3), rebounds (3) and assists (2) on Dec. 1 at UIC. His 3-pointer marked Valpo’s lone made triple of the contest.
- One of three Valpo freshmen to make his collegiate debut on Nov. 27 at Vanderbilt.
- Spent a postgraduate year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire during the 2019-20 season.
- Averaged 11.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game at Loyola Academy as a high school senior during the 2018-19 season while knocking down 64 3-pointers and shooting at a 37.9 percent clip.
- Led his high school team to back-to-back regional championships and sectional final appearances. Winning roots go back to his middle school days, when his team won three straight championships in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Says winning at a young age helped him mature for the next level.
- Is an avid golfer whose best score is 73.