Toledo (0-0, 0-0 MAC)
at Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 MVC)
Game No. 1 – Tuesday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m.
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The 2021-2022 Valparaiso University men’s basketball season tips off on Tuesday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. After a pair of exhibition games, the results start counting on Tuesday as Mid-American Conference foe Toledo pays the Beacons a visit for a compelling home opener. Five transfers and five freshmen have joined the fold to team up with a strong group of returning players and form a new-look Valpo group that will compete in its first regular-season contest on Tuesday. Free Valpo socks will be given away to students who attend the game.
Last Time Out: Valpo played a pair of strong NCAA Division-II opponents during the exhibition slate. The Beacons dropped the exhibition opener 87-78 to Ashland on Saturday, Oct. 30 before falling 70-67 to Flagler on Thursday, Nov. 4. Flagler was ranked second nationally in the Division-II Preseason Poll. Valpo held a seven-point lead with 5:18 remaining, but the Saints converted a last-second old-fashioned 3-point play to snap a 67-all tie and prevail 70-67. Sophomore Sheldon Edwards scored 25.5 points per game over the two exhibitions, leading the team in scoring in both contests. Senior Thomas Kithier averaged 13 points and 13 rebounds over the two games, posting consecutive double-doubles. Freshman Preston Ruedinger was the team leader in plus-minus in both exhibitions.
Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN+ – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Jamie Stangel (analyst)
Valpo Radio – Valpo Sports Network (WVUR 95.1 FM, TuneIn Radio App) – Garrett Willis (play-by-play) and Zach Collins (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (83-78) enters his ninth season overall at Valparaiso University and sixth as the head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2021-2022. The 2020-2021 season saw Valpo improve its Arch Madness seeding for the fourth straight year as the program continued to make positive strides in each season as a Missouri Valley Conference member. The team earned a first-round bye in the State Farm MVC Tournament for the first time since joining the prestigious league. Valpo upset previously-undefeated Drake, the nation’s No. 25 team, 74-57 on Feb. 7, 2021 at the ARC, the fourth win over an AP Top 25 team in program history and second under Lottich. The Bulldogs were one of three undefeated teams in the nation prior to that setback, joining Gonzaga and Baylor. 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 won eight of its last nine season openers with the lone setback in that stretch coming last season with a 77-71 loss at Vanderbilt on Nov. 27.
- Valpo has won the home opener for 16 consecutive seasons with 14 of those victories coming by double figures.
- The last time Valpo started the home slate with a loss was Nov. 27, 2004, an 85-71 defeat to Charlotte.
- One of the two home openers decided by fewer than 10 points since 2004 was the Nov. 5, 2019 matchup with Toledo that saw Valpo edge the Rockets 79-77.
- Toledo owns a 7-6 advantage in an all-time series that dates all the way back to 1946-47.
- The Rockets picked up a 71-57 victory in the most recent matchup, which occurred on Dec. 19 of last season in Ohio.
- The last time Valpo lifted the lid on a home slate in front of spectators, Toledo was also the opponent – Nov. 5, 2019. The Beacons prevailed 79-77 in that one on a game-winning shot in the final five seconds.
- Valpo is a perfect 4-0 all-time in home games against Toledo.
Inside the Rockets
- Coming off a 21-9 season and 15-4 Mid-American Conference mark.
- Reached the NIT last season by virtue of winning the MAC regular-season championship.
- Under the direction of Tod Kowalczyk, who was the MAC Coach of the Year in 2020-21. He previously battled Valpo during his stint leading Green Bay, which spanned from 2002-2010 prior to his arrival on Toledo’s campus.
- Sophomore Ryan Rollins was named to the Lou Henson Award Preseason Watch List for an honor presented annually to the nation’s top mid-major player. Rollins was the MAC Freshman of the Year last season.
- Picked third of 12 in the MAC preseason poll with Rollins earning Preseason First-Team All-MAC status.
- Valpo has improved its conference tournament 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 a No. 6 in 2020-21.
- With Year 4 in The Valley 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 2020-21 regular-season finale vs. Indiana State.
- The Ramblers went 27-45 over their first four seasons before going 57-16 over the following four seasons.
- Valpo has improved its conference finish in each season during the four-year transitional period after elevating to the prestigious and competitive conference.
More on 2020-21
- The 2020-21 season was highlighted by an upset victory over previously-undefeated Drake, the nation’s No. 25 team, 74-57 on Feb. 7, 2021 at the Athletics-Recreation Center, the fourth win over an AP Top 25 team in program history and second under Lottich. The Bulldogs were one of three undefeated teams in the nation prior to that setback, joining Gonzaga and Baylor.
- Valpo came close to two other victories over ranked foes, falling 80-77 vs. No. 25 Drake on Feb. 6 and 54-52 at No. 22 Loyola on Feb. 17.
- Valpo closed the regular season with a stretch of 16 Missouri Valley Conference games in a 39-day span. By comparison, Valpo had played three games over the previous 31 days before beginning the stretch of seemingly nonstop competition. Six of Valpo’s first eight MVC games were postponed due to COVID-19, causing the backlog of makeup games during the busy stretch.
2021-22 Preseason Picks
- Ben Krikke was named to the Preseason All-MVC Second Team.
- Valpo was picked seventh in the 10-team league based on a preseason survey of the conference’s head coaches, media members and sports information directors.
- Drake was tabbed the preseason favorite to win the league, while UNI’s AJ Green earned Preseason Player of the Year accolades.
Sustained Home Success
- 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.
- Thanks to a victory in the 2020-21 home finale vs. Indiana State, the program finished with a record of .500 or better at home for the 29th consecutive season.
- Valpo enjoyed double-figure home win totals in nine of 10 seasons prior to the unusual, pandemic-altered 2020-21 season. Due to health and safety regulations, fans were unable to pack the ARC as they have in years past.
- The ARC is back open to spectators without any capacity restrictions during the 2021-22 season, restoring the home court advantage Valpo has come to expect over the years.
- The historic home success is good news for Valpo this season, as the team will play 17 home games.
- The nonconference slate will be comprised of eight home dates, two road games and three neutral-site contests.
- Valpo most recently played 17 home games during the 2016-17 season. This will mark the team’s busiest home calendar since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
Big Ten U
- Prior to this season, Valpo had just a pair of Big Ten transfers join the program over the last two decades (Bakari Evelyn and Bobby Capobiano).
- This year, the program has been bolstered by four additions from the Big Ten Conference. Trevor Anderson, Joe Hedstrom and Kobe King have all come in from Wisconsin, while Thomas Kithier joins the fold after beginning his career with three seasons at Michigan State.
- Four of the five transfers that have come in join the team from the Big Ten, while a fifth impact transfer began his career with four seasons at Division-II Winona State. Kevion Taylor was a three-time all-conference performer and was his conference’s preseason player of the year in 2020-21.
- King started all 19 games he played at Wisconsin in 2019-20, Anderson appeared in 60 of Wisconsin’s 62 games over the last two seasons and Kithier appeared in 86 games and made 19 starts for Tom Izzo’s team over his three seasons in East Lansing.
- Although the team features five freshmen and the five aforementioned transfers, five scholarship players do return from last season.
- The squad brings back 47.9 percent of its scoring and 42.4 percent of its rebounding.
- Four of the team’s top six scorers are back.
- A pair of MVC postseason award winners remain in the fold for the Beacons as Sheldon Edwards was a member of the 2020-21 MVC All-Freshman Team, while Ben Krikke earned All-MVC Third Team, MVC Most-Improved Team and MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team, the lone player in the league to receive all three honors.
- Seven letter winners are back from last year’s team, while nine have departed. Three starters return and three left. (Note: Starters based on top five players in number of games started. Six players were considered starters due to a tie for fifth).
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 20th 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 11 years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He serves as the team’s defensive coordinator in addition to leading Valpo’s scheduling and scouting efforts.
- 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.
- Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his fourth season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater. He serves as the “special teams” coordinator, which includes presses, press breaks and out-of-bounds plays.
- Director of Basketball Operations Peter Funk is in his first season in that role after spending the previous two years as a graduate assistant and the three years prior to that as a student manager.
- Bob Brooks is in his 18th year as Valpo Director of Strength & Conditioning at Valpo and returned to oversight of men’s basketball strength & conditioning in 2020-21. He has worked with Valpo teams since 1994.
- Athletic trainer Ken DeAngelis is in his third 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 11 years, including 2019-20 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 four 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.