Valparaiso (2-2, 0-0 MVC)
at Samford (5-0, 0-0 Southern)
Game No. 5 – Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m. CT
Pete Hanna Center (5,000) – Birmingham, Ala.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will begin a stretch of 10 straight days on the road on Wednesday afternoon with a pre-Thanksgiving matinee at Samford. This starts a four-game southern swing that also features a multi-team event in Savannah, Ga. and the conference opener at Belmont. Valpo head coach Matt Lottich is one win away from 100 for his collegiate career.
Last Time Out: Valpo returned to the win column and improved to 2-0 at home thanks to a 68-64 victory over Incarnate Word on Saturday night at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Ben Krikke poured in 22 points while Quinton Green added 20 and Kobe King registered 15. The Beacons went 20-of-23 (87 percent) at the free-throw line in the triumph.
Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN+
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 (99-98) is in his seventh season as the head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2022-2023. Twice during his tenure, Valpo has upset Top-25 opponents, defeating Drake and Rhode Island at the ARC. Valpo has four wins over AP Top 25 teams in program history, and two have come under Lottich. In 2019-2020, Valpo became the first team in the history of Arch Madness, the annual Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis, to reach the title game after playing in the opening round by winning three games in three days. 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.
Series Notes: Valpo holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series with Samford. The most recent matchup was an 88-67 Valpo victory at the ARC on Nov. 21, 2017. Head coach Scott Drew’s team beat the Bulldogs 87-79 in double overtime on Dec. 14, 2002. The series started with a 75-69 Samford win as part of the UAB Classic in Birmingham on Dec. 23, 1983.
Krikke Among League, National Leaders
- Ben Krikke is off to a strong start to his fourth season at Valpo, as the Edmonton native has scored 18 points or more in all four games including three straight with 20 or more points.
- Krikke is the first Valpo player with three straight 20-point outputs since program legend Alec Peters did so in December 2016 (at Missouri State, vs. Indiana State, vs. Santa Clara).
- Krikke played all 40 minutes on Nov. 19 vs. Incarnate Word. This marked the first time in his career that he has played the entire game. He did play 40+ minutes on two prior occasions but both were overtime affairs. He ranks third in the nation in minutes per game at 38:17.
- Krikke ranks second in the MVC and fifth in the nation in made field goals with 39.
- Krikke’s scoring average of 23.8 ranks ninth in the country and leads the MVC.
- After tallying a career-high 28 points in the Nov. 13 home opener vs. Western Michigan, Ben Krikke followed with 27 on Nov. 16 at Chicago State.
- Krikke’s 27 points on Nov. 16 at Chicago State were the most by a Valpo player in a true road game since Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 28 on Jan. 15, 2020 at UNI.
- Krikke became the first Valpo player to score 27 points or more in back-to-back games since Alec Peters did so in three straight outings in December 2016 (at Missouri State, vs. Indiana State, vs. Santa Clara).
- Entering Nov. 23 at Samford, Krikke has scored 1,069 career points. He is 127 points away from cracking the top 20 in program history.
Century Mark in Sight
- Valpo head coach Matt Lottich earned his 99th career win on Nov. 19 vs. Incarnate Word.
- He needs just one more victory to become the fourth head coach in program history to reach 100 career victories, joining Homer Drew, Bryce Drew and J.M Christiansen.
- Last season, Lottich moved into sole possession of fourth place in program history, surpassing the legendary Gene Bartow (1964-1970). On a side note, Valpo assistant coach Matt Bowen worked under Bartow at UAB in 1995.
Feeling Fine at the Line
- Valpo shot free throws at an 87 percent clip on Nov. 19 vs. Incarnate Word. The Beacons went 20 of 23 at the charity stripe.
- This was Valpo’s highest made free throw total since Feb. 12 of last season at Missouri State.
- Several individuals had strong days at the line with Ben Krikke going 7-of-8 and Quinton Green 8-of-9. Krikke’s seven makes tied a career high set on March 7, 2020 vs. Missouri State.
Slamming It Home
- The Nov. 19 victory over Incarnate Word featured no shortage of dunks. Kobe King led the way with three, while Quinton Green (2) and Maximus Nelson (1) were also involved in the dunk party.
- Over the first three games of the season, the Beacons had one combined dunk (Green), before displaying six in the game against the Cardinals.
- Nelson’s dunk was his first in a Valpo uniform, while King is up to 10 in his Valpo career after having seven last season. King and Green are out to the early team lead in dunks after Ben Krikke paced the squad with 11 a year ago.
Starting 2-0 at Home
- Valpo has started the home docket with a 2-0 record for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons. The only time in that stretch that Valpo did not start 2-0 at home was last season, when the home slate began with setbacks to Toledo and UIC.
- The program is now 17-1 in its last 18 home openers with 15 of those victories coming by double figures.
- Valpo has finished with a home record of .500 or better in 30 straight seasons.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Incarnate Word: Valpo 68, Incarnate Word 64
- This marked the first close game of the year for the Beacons, as each of the first three contests were decided by double figures one way or the other.
- Quinton Green tied a season high with 20 points, while Ben Krikke again paced the Beacons with 22. Krikke had his 12th career game with 20+ points including his third this season, while Green had his 19th 20-point game and his second in a Valpo uniform.
- Kobe King was in double figures as well, finishing with 15 points. He has been in double figures in 22 of 26 Valpo games including each of the first four contests this season (three with 15+).
- Krikke went 3-of-5 from 3-point distance after going a combined 0-of-5 from long range over the first three games. This marked his first game with three made triples since his freshman year – Jan. 15, 2020 at UNI. He did also have three made 3s in the exhibition game vs. Cedarville this season.
- Maximus Nelson chipped in seven points and five rebounds in 15 minutes.
- Jerome Palm squeezed a team-high eight rebounds.
- Former Valpo player Chris Artis returned to the ARC as an assistant coach for Incarnate Word.
- Started the season with wins over Anderson (S.C.) 109-85, Spring Hill College (Ala.) 80-61, Belhaven University (Miss.) 90-38 and Alabama A&M 84-64.
- Hosted Texas Southern on Sunday (a 78-63 victory) and will welcome Louisiana Tech (Friday) and Tennessee Southern (Sunday, Nov. 27) this weekend as part of a busy Thanksgiving week at Pete Hanna Center.
- Picked to finish second of 10 in the Southern Conference preseason poll.
- Posted a 21-11 record last season.
The 1,000-Point Club
- Krikke reached the 1,000-career-point milestone in the Nov. 13 home-opening victory over Western Michigan.
- He became the first Valpo player to join that esteemed group since current graduate assistant Tevonn Walker did so exactly five years prior – Nov. 13, 2017 vs. Trinity Christian.
- Krikke’s milestone basket came at the 4:50 mark of the first half as his layup lifted his career point total into four figures. The crowd recognized the accomplishment with a loud ovation as public address announcer John Bowker communicated the news to the audience at the next dead ball.
- Krikke received a commemorative game ball as part of a pregame ceremony prior to Valpo’s Nov. 19 contest vs. Incarnate Word.
Cougars Convert the Freebies
- Chicago State shot 96.4 percent from the free-throw line at 27-of-28 in the Nov. 16 game against Valpo. That marked the highest single-game free throw percentage in the nation so far this season.
- This marked the first time a Valpo opponent shot 95 percent or better at the charity stripe with 20 or more attempts since Butler on Jan. 1, 2011.
- This was Chicago State’s highest free-throw percentage with a minimum of 10 attempts since going 12-of-12 vs. Loyola on Jan. 20, 2013.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 16: Chicago State 87, Valpo 74
- Point guard Nick Edwards scored all 15 of his points after halftime, part of his first double-figure output in a Valpo uniform and the 25th such performance of his collegiate career.
- Ben Krikke’s 27 points came on 12-of-16 from the field and 3-of-3 at the free-throw line. This marked his 54th career double-figure game and his 11th with 20+ points.
- Valpo held a 24-10 edge in transition points and a 42-30 advantage in points in the paint.
- The Beacons shot 54.3 percent in the second half and outscored the Cougars 50-38 after the break.
- Kobe King paced the team on the glass with six rebounds including four offensive boards. King scored 11 points, finishing in double figures for the third consecutive game and the 22nd time in his 26-game Valpo career.
- The Beacons shot 48.3 percent for the game but were just 2-of-11 from 3-point territory. Valpo made 14 of its 18 free throws (77.8 percent).
- Sophomore Preston Ruedinger returned to action after missing the previous two games with a back injury, but Ibra Bayu (hernia) and Cam Palesse (thumb) remained sidelined.
- In his return to the court, Ruedinger grabbed a career-high four rebounds.
- Last season, Ben Krikke was one of three players in the Missouri Valley Conference to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and 80 percent or better from the free-throw line, joining Isiaih Mosley of Missouri State and Malevy Leons of Bradley while owning the highest field-goal percentage of that elite group.
- Krikke entered the season with a career field-goal percentage of 53.4, a mark that ranks seventh in program history.
- Krikke had a 12-game double-figure scoring streak that was snapped in the final game of the season, the MVC Tournament quarterfinal vs. Missouri State. He totaled 22 double-figure outputs and seven performances of 20 points or more while pacing the team in scoring on 11 occasions.
- The Valpo forward entered this season having played in 90 career games with two years of eligibility remaining. The threshold to crack the program’s all-time top 10 is 126 and the program record is 138 (Erik Buggs). He started the final 29 games last season after missing the first three games of the year due to an ankle injury.
- After earning third team honors for the second straight year, Krikke became the first Valpo player to earn All-MVC accolades in two different seasons. The program’s last multi-time all-conference honoree was Alec Peters, who was a first-team all-Horizon League pick in each of his final three seasons, concluding in 2016-17.
- He earned MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team status for the second straight year. He is the only Valpo player who has been part of the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team since the department joined the conference.
- Kobe King has scored in double figures in 23 of his 27 games in a Valpo uniform, including each of the first four games this season.
- The former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball has scored 15 or more points in 13 of his 27 games with the Beacons including three of four this season.
- King is up to 28 career double-figure scoring efforts including his tenure at Wisconsin.
- At the end of last season, King became Valpo’s second All-Newcomer Team choice since joining the league and first since Bakari Evelyn in 2017-18.
- He appeared on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays after a three-quarter court buzzer-beater on Dec. 11 vs. Charlotte, a play that ranked No. 9 on the popular countdown that evening.
Top Two Scorers Back
- With both Ben Krikke (14.2 ppg) and Kobe King (14.0 ppg) back, Valpo returns its top two scorers from last season.
- The last time the program had its top two scorers back from the previous year was 2015-2016, when Alec Peters and Darien Walker both returned after finishing as the team’s top two scorers in 2014-15. The 2015-16 season was a historic one, as the Brown & Gold reached the NIT championship game.
- Only four of the 12 teams in the Missouri Valley Conference have their top two scorers back from last season, as Valpo joins Drake, Southern Illinois and Indiana State.
Point Guard Prowess
- Sophomore Preston Ruedinger has been placed on scholarship after spending much of the 2021-22 season as the starting point guard while competing as a nonscholarship freshman. He initially planned to redshirt but instead used a season of eligibility, making his season debut on Dec. 20 vs. Eastern Michigan.
- Ruedinger did not make more than one turnover in any of his 19 contests and played turnover-free basketball on 11 occasions.
- He finished the season with 32 assists against just eight turnovers. He was the only player in the nation with 30 or more assists and fewer than 10 turnovers, becoming the first Valpo player to finish a season with 30 or more assists and fewer than 10 turnovers in the last 15 years.
- At season’s end, Ruedinger was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team, the fourth straight season Valpo has had a rookie earn that distinction.
- In addition, sophomore Darius DeAveiro finished his freshman season as one of two freshmen nationally (joining Youngstown State’s Luke Chicone) with 50 or more assists and fewer than 25 turnovers. He was the only player in the MVC to achieve that feat.
- Valpo has added fifth-year senior Nick Edwards to the mix after he played at Glenville State last season. Edwards was one of eight players in the Division-II nation to post a triple-double a year ago en route to averaging 7.9 assists per game over 11 games while being limited by a foot injury.
Looking Back at 2021-2022
- The team boasted two MVC Scholar-Athlete team selections, the captain of the All-Bench Team, an MVC Most-Improved Team honoree, an All-MVC Third Team performer, an All-Newcomer team member and an All-Freshman team honoree. Valpo had seven different MVC postseason honors won by five different players.
- Valpo went a combined 5-0 against instate foes Indiana State and Evansville, sweeping the Hoosier State for the first time since joining the MVC.
- Valpo finished with a home record of .500 or better for the 30th consecutive season.
- Eight of Valpo’s 18 MVC games were decided by three points or fewer or required overtime.
- The Beacons overcame double-figure deficits to win on three occasions (Tulane, Eastern Michigan and Evansville), something that has occurred 19 times during the Matt Lottich Era.
- The team finished fourth in the MVC in both free-throw percentage (.759) and field-goal percentage (.459) while also finishing fourth in assists per game (12.5), steals per game (6.4) and third in assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
- Valpo played six overtime games, the program’s most since tying a Division-I record with eight in 1993.
- Ben Krikke was tabbed to the Preseason All-MVC First Team, becoming the first player to earn that honor in Valpo’s time in the conference.
- Prior to this season, Valpo had five preseason all-conference selections since joining The Valley in 2017-18, all second team honorees.
- Kobe King was named to the Preseason All-MVC Third Team, making this the second time in the team’s six years in The Valley that Valpo has boasted a pair of preseason all-league choices.
- Krikke, also a Preseason All-MVC Second Team choice last year, became the first Valpo player to earn Preseason All-MVC honors on multiple occasions.
- Valpo was picked to finish ninth of 12 in the preseason poll, ahead of Illinois State, UIC and Evansville.
- Drake hauled in 52 of the 54 first-place votes and finished a heavy preseason favorite, while Drake’s Tucker DeVries was named MVC Preseason Player of the Year.
- In addition to the conference’s honor, Krikke was named to the Preseason All-MVC First Team by Blue Ribbon Magazine
- The 2022-23 roster features eight returning letter winners, one returning player who redshirted last season and six newcomers (three freshmen, three transfers).
- Five Valpo players hail from outside of the United States – two from The Netherlands, two from Canada and one from Denmark.
- Four members of the roster are natives of the state of Wisconsin, while two call Illinois home and one has remained in his home state of Indiana. The remaining players come from Georgia, Minnesota and Ohio.
- Nick Edwards is the first Georgia native to play for the program since E. Victor Nickerson in 2015-16.
- Nick Edwards had a triple-double while playing at Glenville last season, one of eight Division-II players in the nation to achieve that feat.
- Quinton Green earned All-Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) honors for three straight seasons. He finished with 1,288 points over four seasons at Cedarville and knocked down a team-high 59 3-point field goals last year.
- Ibra Bayu spent three years in the United States playing high school basketball before arriving at Valpo. He dealt with a serious medical issue during his junior season before being sidelined by two separate fractured ankles as a senior.
- Jerome Palm comes to Valpo after two junior college seasons at Hillsborough CC and Daytona State. He competed for the championship-winning Netherlands national team in the 2021 3x3 national tournament.
- Maximus Nelson was a unanimous first team all-conference and first-team all-state selection after his senior season at Appleton North High School in Appleton, Wis.
Random off-the-court facts on each Valpo player.
- #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.
- #4 Darius DeAveiro – Father David is the former head coach at McGill University in Montreal and is now the head coach of the Ryerson Rams... Played on the state soccer team at age 13 and traveled significantly for the sport, including a trip to England.
- #5 Nick Edwards – Describes himself as a “wing fanatic” with his preference being either honey barbeque or lemon pepper... Cousin is Champ Bailey, who was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection during his NFL career that spanned from 1999-2014.
- #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 Ibra Bayu – Played soccer during his youth but was advised to try basketball at age 10 during a gym class... Describes himself as a very social person who enjoys talking, making jokes and laughing.
- #13 Maximus Nelson – Enjoys working kids camp and teaching young children how to play the sport of basketball.
- #14 Quinton Green – Has four younger brothers and sisters... His roommate for five years at Cedarville was Conner TenHove, a Valparaiso, Ind. native... Scored 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds against Valpo in an exhibition game on Oct. 19, 2019 while playing for Cedarville.
- #15 Luke Morrill – Walk-on who enjoys wakesurfing.
- #20 Joe Vick – Walk-on who is the son of Julie Vick, the administrative assistant for Valpo Basketball.
- #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 Jerome Palm – Enjoys cutting hair for fun as a makeshift barber as he cuts hair for friends and family members in addition to his own.
- #35 Kobe King –Enjoys making music and writing song lyrics.
- Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 21st 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 12 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 fifth season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.
- Director of Basketball Operations Peter Funk is in his second 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.
- Vijay Blackmon joined the Valpo staff this summer, leading the program’s strength & conditioning efforts. He arrived at Valpo after serving as the head strength & conditioning coach at Bella Vista College Prep School in Phoenix, Ariz. from October 2021 to April 2022. During that time, he also served as a strength coach intern for the Grand Canyon men’s basketball program, which is under the direction of Valpo legend Bryce Drew.
- Former Valpo basketball standout Tevonn Walker has rejoined the program as a graduate assistant. He scored 1,405 career points with the Brown & Gold, a total that ranks 14th in program history. He went on to play professionally in Germany and Canada.
- After starting his career at Michigan State, Thomas Kithier was a key player for the Beacons last season. Due to a career-ending back injury, he has transitioned into a graduate assistant role.
- Sam Back is in his fifth season as a student manager and third as head manager. The North Judson, Ind. native was named to Grow the Game’s Manager All-American Team following the 2021-2022 campaign.
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 12 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 recent NBA players. 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 (2020-2022) and Olympiacos (2022-present).
- Valpo has produced over 50 professional players in the last three decades.