Valparaiso (0-3, 0-0 MVC)
at Baha Mar Hoops Nassau Championship
Games 4-6 – Nov. 22-24
Baha Mar Convention Center – Nassau, The Bahamas
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will head to Nassau, The Bahamas to play two to three games as part of a seven-team event this week. The Beacons will battle Jacksonville State on Monday evening in their first game in the bracket. The field also features Toledo, Charlotte, Drexel, Tulane and Coastal Carolina. Note that there was a late schedule change due to Abilene Christian announcing that its program will not be able to participate in the event.
Last Time Out: Valpo fell behind 12-1 early and couldn’t climb out of the hole despite outscoring Stanford in the second half of a 74-60 road setback on Thursday. Trevor Anderson enjoyed his first collegiate double-double with a game-high 18 points to go along with a career-high 10 rebounds. Sheldon Edwards had 11 points, while Thomas Kithier added nine on 4-of-6 shooting and Trey Woodyard swiped three steals.
Following the Beacons: Streaming – FloHoops – Sam Hyman (play-by-play) and Donnie Chiarel (analyst)
Valpo Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Brandon Vickrey (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (83-81) is in 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.
- The biggest bright spot of Valpo’s 74-60 setback at Stanford on Wednesday, Nov. 17 was the play of sixth-year senior point guard Trevor Anderson.
- Anderson soared past his previous collegiate career high of seven rebounds, reached on two occasions during his freshman season while playing for Green Bay, by pulling down a career-high 10 boards.
- He added his second double-figure scoring output in the season’s first three games by achieving a season-high 18 to secure his first collegiate double-double.
- This marked the second straight game Valpo had a double-double after Thomas Kithier posted one against UIC on Saturday, Nov. 13.
- On Wednesday, Nov. 24, Anderson will celebrate his 24th birthday, joining Eron Gordon as the oldest Beacons. He’ll celebrate the golden birthday by playing a game in the Bahamas.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 17: Stanford 74, Valpo 60
- Trey Woodyard scored his first collegiate points on his lone attempt of the evening.
- In addition, Woodyard swiped a game-high three steals, the highest total by a Beacon over the season’s first three games.
- Joe Hedstrom saw 15 minutes of action and drained a 3, the second of his collegiate career. That triple represented his first points in a Valpo uniform.
- The Beacons shot a season-best 83.3 percent at the free-throw line, knocking down 10 of their 12 attempts. This was Valpo’s best free-throw percentage since going 12-of-13 (92.3 percent) on Feb. 14 of last season at UNI.
- The team enjoyed a season watermark with nine steals, its highest total in that area since the upset win over No. 25 Drake on Feb. 7, 2021, a contest that featured 10 Valpo steals.
- However, Valpo turned it over a season-high 19 times, the team’s largest figure in that column since the 2020-21 regular-season finale vs. Indiana State. It ties for the team’s highest total since committing 21 giveaways on Feb. 13, 2019.
- The Valpo basketball program received recognition from the Valparaiso University Student Philanthropy program on Sunday, Nov. 14.
- The team was recognized as part of the University’s annual Generosity Awards Celebration. Head coach Matt Lottich’s group was selected as the 2021 Athletic Team Awardee for the program’s community service and engagement.
- The team’s community engagement activities include participating in the Popcorn Fest, Valparaiso Downtown Trick or Treat, Valpo Day of Caring and beach cleanup at the Indiana Dunes National Park.
- In addition, the team hosts youth camps in the summer, working with children ages 6-14 to provide a fun and positive basketball experience.
- The program makes it a priority to attend as many Valpo Athletics events as possible to support other teams. The Beacons also make an effort to actively participate in the University community and support student organizations while also having an active presence as members of the broader City of Valparaiso and Northwest Indiana communities.
- Of the six core values that make up the foundation of the Valpo men’s basketball program, servanthood and appreciation are among the most prominent.
MTE History: Valpo put together a 17-game winning streak in games that were part of multi-team events from 2013-2018. Valpo is 20-4 in its last 24 games that were part of MTEs. The squad did drop two of its three games in the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the Paradise Jam in 2019, but still had a solid showing by earning a victory over Grand Canyon and taking Cincinnati to overtime. Valpo won the 2014 Challenge in the Music City championship, posted a perfect record at the Beaver Showcase in 2015 and claimed the MGM Grand Main Event Heavyweight Division championship belt in 2016. The team shared the 2017 Savannah Invitational title with Loyola. Valpo’s MTE resume since 2014 includes wins over Murray State (2014), Iona (2015), Oregon State (2015), Alabama (2016) and BYU (2016).
Jacksonville State: 0-0
Coastal Carolina: 0-0
Inside the Competition
- Jacksonville State is off to a 1-2 start that includes a triple-overtime loss at Troy and a three-point defeat at Wichita State. They were picked third of 12 in the A-Sun Preseason Poll.
- Coastal Carolina beat Ferrum College 101-73 on Tuesday, Nov. 8. They were picked seventh of 12 in the Sun Belt preseason poll.
- Toledo, picked third of 12 in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll, has wins over Valpo and Detroit Mercy but a loss to Oakland.
- Valpo could also face Charlotte twice this season as the two teams will meet on Dec. 11 at the ARC and could face off in the Bahamas. They started the season with wins over Monmouth and USC Upstate and are picked to finish seventh of 14 in Conference USA.
- Drexel has a win over Saint Joseph’s and a loss to Syracuse so far this season. The preseason poll forecasted Drexel third of 10 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
- Tulane beat Southern Louisiana but had close losses to Southern and Florida State. They are picked tied for ninth of 11 in the American Conference.
Bahamas Bound Beacons
- After visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands two years ago and not competing in a multi-team event last season due to the pandemic, this year’s MTE will take Valpo to Nassau, The Bahamas for two to three games this week.
- The Beacons will participate in the Nassau Championship, one of several MTEs being hosted by Baha Mar Hoops in Nassau.
- The team will head to the Bahamas on Saturday in advance of Monday evening’s game against Jacksonville State.
- The seven-team field also features Toledo, Charlotte, Drexel, Tulane and Coastal Carolina.
- If Valpo wins on Monday, it will play Coastal Carolina on Tuesday and a third game on Wednesday. If Valpo loses on Monday, this will become a two-game event for the Beacons.
- The original schedule was altered when Abilene Christian withdrew from the event.
- Coastal Carolina went 18-8 in the Sun Belt and won a pair of games in the CBI last season. Valpo could end up with a second matchup this season against Toledo, which is coming off a 21-9 record and NIT appearance and won this year’s season opener at the ARC. Drexel is the defending Colonial Association champion and reached the NCAA Tournament last season. Jacksonville State finished 2020-21 with an 18-9 record and 13-6 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.
A Favorable First Impression
- Michigan State transfer Thomas Kithier wasted no time in garnering the first Missouri Valley Conference weekly award of his Beacon career. He was named MVC Newcomer of the Week for the first week of the season after averaging 22.0 points and 8.0 rebounds over two games against Toledo and UIC.
- Kithier was a major bright spot in Valpo’s 74-70 overtime loss to UIC on Nov. 13. Kithier posted a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds.
- Kithier shattered a rebounding career high after previously squeezing seven boards on four occasions. After owning a personal best of 10 points (vs. Binghamton in 2019-20) during his three-year Spartan career, Kithier established new career watermarks in each of his first two Valpo games, scoring team highs against both Toledo (16) and UIC (28).
- The 6-foot-8 forward’s 28 points were the most by a Valpo player in a single game since Javon Freeman-Liberty scored 29 on March 7, 2020 vs. Missouri State. It was the highest single-game output by a Valpo individual other than Javon since Bakari Evelyn scored 30 on Nov. 25, 2017 vs. UNCW.
- Kithier’s 28 points were the most scored by a Valpo player in a double-double since Freeman-Liberty had 30&13 on Nov. 12, 2019 at SIUE.
- The Macomb, Mich. native became the first Valpo player with a 25&10 game at the ARC since Alec Peters on Jan. 27, 2017 vs. Wright State. Kithier joined Peters, Freeman-Liberty and Ben Krikke on the short list of Valpo players with 25-point double-doubles during the Lottich Era.
List of 25-Point Double-Doubles Under Lottich
Player Date Opponent Pts-Reb
Thomas Kithier 11-13-21 vs. UIC 28-11
Ben Krikke 1-24-21 at Illinois State 25-15
Javon Freeman-Liberty 11-12-19 at SIUE 30-13
Alec Peters 1-27-17 vs. Wright State 25-14
Alec Peters 1-22-17 vs. UIC 30-10
Alec Peters 12-22-16 vs. Santa Clara 35-13
Alec Peters 12-17-16 vs. Indiana State 29-15
Alec Peters 12-10-16 at Missouri State 27-11
Alec Peters 11-23-16 vs. BYU 26-12
Alec Peters 11-12-16 vs. Trinity Christian 36-15
- Valpo started the season with a pair of close home losses to Toledo and UIC followed by a road defeat against power-5 foe Stanford, and there’s little question that the absence of leading returning scorer Ben Krikke played a factor.
- Krikke, who left Valpo’s opening exhibition game with an ankle injury, was named to the 2021-22 Preseason All-MVC Second Team. He earned All-MVC Third Team, MVC Most-Improved Team and MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team laurels last season, the lone player in the league to receive all three honors.
- Valpo did add depth with the return of sophomore Connor Barrett for the Nov. 13 game vs. UIC after Barrett had missed both exhibition games and the season opener vs. Toledo with a shoulder injury.
- The Beacons are also without Kobe King for the first nine games of the season. The Wisconsin transfer averaged 10.0 points per game over 19 starts for the Badgers in 2019-20 including a team-high 12.6 points per game in Big Ten play over nine contests.
- Valpo is off to an 0-3 start for a second straight season, something that previously hadn’t occurred since 2004-05. However, there’s still a long way to go for this year’s edition of the Beacons.
- Valpo will look to dodge its first 0-4 start since 2004-05 by coming away with a victory on Monday.
- Valpo has dropped its first two home games in a season for the first time since the 2003-2004. However, it should be noted that the Homer Drew led 2003-2004 squad recovered from the 0-2 home start and eventually won the Mid-Continent Conference title and reached the NCAA Tournament.
- Even more noteworthy is that fact that the last time Valpo started a season 0-2 with both games occurring at home was 1997-98, the team’s legendary Sweet Sixteen season.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 13: UIC 74, Valpo 70 (OT)
- This marked Valpo’s first overtime game since a double-OT affair on Jan. 28, 2021 vs. Bradley, a 91-85 victory. It was Valpo’s first OT defeat since Feb. 19, 2020 at Drake (77-75) and the team’s first OT loss at home since Feb. 13, 2019 vs. Indiana State (87-72).
- Sixth-year senior Eron Gordon squeezed seven rebounds, while Kevion Taylor had six to go along with his 16 points and team-high four assists.
- Sheldon Edwards was Valpo’s third double-figure scorer with 13 while also blocking a career-high four shots. A Valpo player blocked more than three shots in a single game just once last season, when Donovan Clay had five against Purdue Northwest. Edwards’ four rejections were the most by a Valpo individual against a D1 team since Jaume Sorolla on Feb. 16, 2019 at Drake.
- Redshirt junior Joe Hedstrom, a Wisconsin transfer, made his Valpo debut, while sophomore Connor Barrett logged his first action this season.
- Valpo was outscored 13-2 on fast-break points.
- The game featured nine ties and nine lead changes.
Random off-the-court facts on each Valpo player.
- #0 Thomas Kithier – Is an avid Detroit Lions fan and can name every player on the roster... Mother Jane played college volleyball at Eastern Michigan... Works in Valpo Athletics in ticketing, marketing and sports information.
- #1 Cam Palesse – Enjoys building fish-tank ecosystems.
- #2 Preston Ruedinger – Is an avid golfer in his spare time... Has an interest in coaching in the future.
- #3 Connor Barrett – Is also an avid golfer whose best score is a 73.
- #4 Darius DeAviero – Father David is the former head coach at McGill University in Montreal and is now the head coach of the Ryerson Rams.
- #5 Keyondre Young – Enjoys observing nature and sightseeing... Enjoys watching movies and lists Blue Chips as his favorite.
- #10 Eron Gordon – Comes from a basketball family including brother Eric who has played in the NBA since 2008 and is currently a member of the Houston Rockets... Enjoys editing videos and podcasting.
- #11 Emil Freese-Vilien – Civil engineering major who spends a lot of time drawing blueprints and houses... His first basketball practice came at age 14... Played serious badminton growing up.
- #12 Kevion Taylor – High school teammates with Tyler Herro of the NBA’s Miami Heat.
- #13 Sheldon Edwards – Has six siblings... Enjoys listening to music... Played for his uncle Louis Graham at TLAP Sports Academy for one year prior to coming to Valpo.
- #15 Luke Morrill – Walk-on who enjoys wakesurfing.
- #20 Tyler Fricke – Walk-on whose father Scott coached Matt Lottich in high school and brother Zach pitches for the Valpo baseball team.
- #21 Trevor Anderson – Father Scott was his high school coach at SPASH and played at UW-Stevens Point... Enjoys visiting coffee shops, traveling and cheering for the Dallas Cowboys.
- #22 Brock Pappas – Walk-on who is majoring in nursing and hopes to one day become a pediatric nurse and work at Riley Children’s Hospital.
- #23 Ben Krikke – Spent over 100 days in quarantine before and during the 2020-2021 season... Enjoys mountain biking and chess, which he learned from his grandfather... Credits his father’s Michael Jordon DVD set for helping hone his skills.
- #32 Joe Hedstrom – Is an avid fisherman and Valpo’s proximity to Lake Michigan added to his desire to play at Valpo... Grandfather Burt Hedstrom played basketball, football and baseball at Northwestern University (1944-47) and both of his parents played college basketball, mother Sharon (Bethel) and father Peter (St. Olaf).
- #33 Trey Woodyard – Maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school, earning a place on the honor roll every year.
- #35 Kobe King – Father Chris played collegiately at Wake Forest and was a second-round pick of the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1992 NBA Draft. He played professionally from 1993-2008, seeing action for Seattle, Vancouver and Utah in the NBA as well as stints overseas in the CBA... Cousin Jimmy King was a member of the University of Michigan’s Fab Five and played professionally for 10 years... Enjoys making music and writing song lyrics.
Notes Wrapping up Nov. 9: Toledo 69, Valpo 61
- Thomas Kithier scored 16 points in his Valpo debut to achieve a collegiate career high. He did it on 8-of-11 shooting and chipped in five rebounds. Kithier’s previous career high came on Nov. 10, 2019, when he scored 10 points in a Michigan State game against Binghamton.
- Trevor Anderson hit double figures for the 13th time in his collegiate career (11 points) while reaching the five-assist threshold, pulling down five rebounds and committing no turnovers.
- Kevion Taylor tallied double figures for the 82nd time in his collegiate career with his 12-point showing, while Sheldon Edwards scored 10 points for his 10th career double-figure game.
- Valpo played without Preseason Second Team All-MVC choice Ben Krikke, who missed the game due to an injury.
- Six of the nine Beacons who saw action were newcomers.
- Eron Gordon made his 32nd collegiate start (31st at Valpo) while playing in his 112th college game.
- 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.