Trinity Christian (5-4, 3-3 CCAC)
at Valparaiso (2-4, 0-0 MVC)
Game No. 7 – Saturday, Nov. 27, 6 p.m.
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After a successful stay in The Bahamas that saw the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team finish third in a competitive eight-team field at the Nassau Championship, the Beacons will return to the Athletics-Recreation Center to host Trinity Christian College on Saturday night. Valpo will seek its third win in four games in the final tune-up before next week’s Missouri Valley Conference opener.
Last Time Out: The Beacons rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to top Tulane 68-64 on Wednesday in the third-place game of the Nassau Championship in Nassau, The Bahamas. Valpo opened the multi-team event with a 78-70 victory over Jacksonville State on Monday night before a 64-61 setback to Coastal Carolina in Tuesday’s semifinal. The Beacons bounced back less than 24 hours later, rallying past the Green Wave behind a career-high 23 points by Sheldon Edwards. Trevor Anderson had 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists on his golden birthday, while Thomas Kithier dished out a career-high five assists to go along with eight rebounds and eight points. Freshman Keyondre Young had an enormous four-point play late in the game for one of his two triples, and Eron Gordon made an impressive layup for the go-ahead shot in the final minute.
Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN3 – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Casey Schmidt (analyst)
Valpo Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App – Zach Collins (play-by-play)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (85-82) 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.
Thanksgiving Tournament Stat Stuffing
- Valpo sophomore Sheldon Edwards stuffed the stat sheet in the third-place game of the Nassau Championship on Nov. 24 vs. Tulane.
- He was one of five players in a competitive, eight-team field to earn all-tournament team honors, joining Setric Millner Jr. (Toledo), Ryan Rollins (Toledo), Essam Mostafa (Coastal Carolina) and Jalen Cook (Tulane).
- In the triumph over the Green Wave, Edwards had a career-high 23 points, a career-high five made 3s, five rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. He surpassed his previous career high of 20 points, reached on two occasions last season (vs. SIUE, vs. Drake).
- The five 3s surpassed his previous personal best of four, reached on four occasions. The three steals equaled a career high (third time), while the three blocks were behind only his four-rejection performance against UIC on Nov. 13.
- Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Edwards averaged 16.0 points per game over three contests in The Bahamas. He notched 12 rebounds, seven steals, six blocks, four assists and 10 made 3s while going 8-of-10 at the free-throw line.
- Edwards has reached double figures in all six games this season and seven straight dating back to last year.
- With 13 blocks this season, Edwards leads the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 31st He also ranks among the national leaders in 3-point field goal attempts (48, 18th).
Back on the Comeback Trail
- The 12-point comeback on Nov. 24 vs. Tulane continued a no-quit attitude that has been apparent throughout the Matt Lottich Era. Valpo has come back from double figures down to prevail on 17 occasions under Lottich (sixth year) and has been on the wrong end of a double-figure comeback just four times in that span.
- This marked the first time Valpo has come from double figures down to win since making a 14-point Bradley lead disappear in a 91-85 overtime victory last January.
- Valpo topped Tulane despite trailing for 24 minutes and leading for eight.
- All three of Valpo’s games in the Bahamas saw the team that was trailing at halftime rally to win the game. Valpo trailed by as many as seven in Monday’s victory over Jacksonville State and led by as many as eight in Tuesday’s setback to Coastal Carolina.
- During the 2019-20 season alone, Valpo had six victories when facing a double-figure deficit. The largest of those came in the MVC quarterfinals, a memorable 18-point rally to beat Loyola 74-73.
- Valpo has featured different leading scorers in each of the last five games.
- Thomas Kithier (28 vs. UIC), Trevor Anderson (18 at Stanford), Ben Krikke (25 vs. Jacksonville State), Kevion Taylor (15 vs. Coastal Carolina) and Sheldon Edwards (23 vs. Tulane) have each taken a turn pacing the squad.
- An assemblage of early-season scoring leaders is nothing new for the Beacons, who featured five different leading scorers in their first five games last year (Mileek McMillan, Donovan Clay, Nick Robinson, Jacob Ognacevic and Sheldon Edwards).
Ballin’ in The Bahamas: Notes Wrapping Up the Nassau Championship (Nov. 22-24)
- Thomas Kithier has scored eight points or more in each of the first six games of the season.
- Sheldon Edwards has reached double figures in scoring in all six games and has blocked at least one shot in each contest this season. He’s also canned a 3-pointer in every outing.
- After holding Coastal Carolina to just 4-of-19 (21.1%) from 3 on Nov. 23, Valpo limited Tulane to 5-of-19 (26.3%) in the Nov. 24 third-place game. The Green Wave shot just 37 percent overall, the lowest total by a Beacon opponent this season.
- Thomas Kithier handed out a career-high five assists in the Nov. 24 victory over Tulane, pacing all distributors as a 6-foot-8 forward.
- The 34 3-point attempts against the Green Wave were Valpo’s most in a game since Jan. 28, 2021 vs. Bradley (also 34), and that game went to double overtime. This was Valpo’s most 3-point attempts in a regulation game since firing off 35 in last year’s season opener at Vanderbilt.
- Kevion Taylor hit five 3-pointers in the semifinal game vs. Coastal Carolina, his most in a Valpo uniform.
- Kithier gobbled up a career-high 12 rebounds against the Chanticleers, surpassing his previous personal best of 11, which came earlier this season vs. UIC.
- Ben Krikke’s 25 points in the opening-round game against Jacksonville State tied his career high, which was set on Jan. 24 of last season at Illinois State. Playing for the first time this season after missing the first three games with an injury, Krikke had his seventh career two-steal game and rejected a pair of shots while shooting 10-of-17 from the floor and 5-of-6 at the foul line.
- Trevor Anderson squeezed a career-high 11 rebounds against the Gamecocks, his second straight double-figure performance.
- Valpo posted a 50-point half against Jacksonville State, its first since scoring 54 after halftime on Feb. 22, 2020 vs. Bradley.
- Valpo committed a season-low six turnovers against the Gamecocks.
- Connor Barrett drilled three 3-pointers on Nov. 22 vs. Jacksonville State, the first time this season and the sixth in his career that he has hit three triples in a game.
- The event started with pandemonium, as the Drexel vs. Tulane game prior to the Valpo vs. Jacksonville State game on Monday, Nov. 22 had a lengthy delay due to a leak in the ceiling. The 5:30 p.m. Valpo game was delayed until 9:10 p.m. Eastern Time and was played on a practice court.
Series Notes: This will mark the fifth installment of an all-time series in which Valpo holds a perfect 4-0 mark, all at the ARC. Most recently, the hosts prevailed 98-71 on Nov. 27, 2019. The closest matchup came in 2016, a 14-point win for the Beacons. The most lopsided version of Valpo vs. Trinity Christian was an 83-46 contest in 2017.
A Hawkins Homecoming: Trinity Christian head coach Jason Hawkins played at Valpo for three seasons from 2000-2003. Valpo won regular season conference titles in each of those years, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and the NIT in 2003. He earned his undergraduate degree in history from Valpo in 2003. Current Valpo assistants Matt Bowen and Luke Gore were on staff during Hawkins’ playing career. Hawkins then joined the staff as the Director of Basketball Operations for the 2003-04 season. The Gary, Indiana native and Bishop Noll High School graduate later returned to Valpo as an assistant coach in 2006. Hawkins has a deep history of coaching in Northwest Indiana, as he has spent time as the Athletic Director at Lake Station and previously coached, taught and was an assistant athletic director at Marquette Catholic in Michigan City. He was the head men’s basketball coach at IU Northwest from 2011-2014 and the head coach at Calumet College of St. Joseph from 2004-2006.
Inside the Trolls
- Off to a 5-4 start this season including a 3-3 CCAC record.
- Coming off an 84-71 loss vs. Holy Cross on Tuesday.
- This game will count as an exhibition for the Trolls but a regular-season game for Valpo.
- Played an exhibition at UIC and fell 91-50.
- Opened the season against East West, a future Valpo opponent, and prevailed 85-82.
- Led by James Pennington, who is averaging 18.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
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.
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.