Valparaiso (3-4, 0-0 MVC)
at Belmont (4-3, 0-0 MVC)
Game No. 8 – Thursday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m. CT
Curb Event Center (5,000) – Nashville, Tenn.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will open Missouri Valley Conference play on Thursday night, the first of back-to-back early December league contests before finishing out the nonconference slate with four more dates. The Beacons will serve as the league welcoming committee by providing the opposition for Belmont’s first ever MVC contest after the Bruins transitioned from the Ohio Valley Conference on July 1. Thursday’s league lidlifter in Nashville will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Last Time Out: Valpo split a pair of games at this past weekend’s Hostilo Community Classic in Savannah, Ga., rebounding from a 61-50 setback vs. South Dakota State to beat James Madison 81-79 in overtime on Sunday afternoon. Nick Edwards drove to the basket for a game-winning shot in the closing ticks of OT to help the Beacons best a James Madison team that entered the game at 6-1. The Brown & Gold overcame exorbitant foul trouble to come away victorious with Ben Krikke’s 23 points leading the way.
Following the Beacons: Television – ESPNU – Clay Matvick (play-by-play) and Kevin Lehman (analyst)
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 (100-100) 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: This marks the continuation of a head-to-head series that began in 1997-1998. Valpo owns a 9-2 advantage in 11 all-time matchups. The two teams played a rare nonconference home-and-home within the same season in 2015-16, when Valpo won 61-57 at the ARC and lost 85-81 in Nashville. Valpo owns a 3-2 edge in games played at Belmont but the Bruins have won their last two home games in the series.
MVC Welcoming Committee
- After spending the last five seasons as the newest member of the Missouri Valley Conference, Valpo has passed that torch to a trio of new members this season – Belmont, Murray State and UIC.
- This year marks the first shift in MVC membership since Valpo’s addition prior to the 2017-18 campaign.
- Valpo will serve as a welcoming committee of sorts this weekend, providing the opposition for Belmont’s first-ever MVC game on Thursday in Nashville before serving as Murray State’s first MVC road trip on Sunday at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Valpo in MVC Openers
- This marks the second straight year that Valpo has started the MVC slate with a road game on the first Thursday of December that was nationally televised on ESPNU. Last year, the league docket cranked up with a visit to Drake.
- Last year’s game was on Dec. 2, so this year’s Dec. 1 matchup will mark Valpo’s earliest start to league play since joining Division-I in 1978-79.
- Valpo is 1-4 in league openers since joining The Valley but has won the first league road game in three of the last four seasons (at Missouri State in 2019, at Evansville in 2020 and at Illinois State in 2021 before falling at Drake last season.)
Reaching the Century Mark
- Valpo’s 100-win club has a new member after head coach Matt Lottich reached the significant milestone with Sunday’s 81-79 overtime victory over James Madison.
- Lottich became just the fourth head coach in program history to get to 100 wins, joining Homer Drew, Bryce Drew and J.M. Christiansen.
- Lottich is two wins away from tying and three from passing Christiansen for third in program history.
Name Years Wins
Homer Drew 1988-2002; 2003-2011 371
Bryce Drew 2011-2016 124
J.M. Christiansen 1929-1941 102
Matt Lottich 2017-pres. 100
In the Nick of Time
- Fifth-year senior Nick Edwards became the latest entry on the list of Valpo basketball players who have hit game-winning shots in the final five seconds of regulation or overtime when he drove to the basket and scored in the closing ticks of OT to lift Valpo past James Madison 81-79 on Sunday in Savannah, Ga.
- This was Valpo’s first game-winning shot since March 6, 2020, Eron Gordon’s memorable basket to beat Loyola at the MVC Tournament in St. Louis.
- The bucket by Edwards marked Valpo’s 26th last-second shot in the final five seconds since the start of the 1992-93 season.
- There have been four total last-second shots during the Lottich Era, with Javon Freeman-Liberty vs. Toledo to open the 2019-20 season and Markus Golder’s 50-footer at the buzzer to beat Illinois State on Jan. 2, 2019 joining the aforementioned baskets by Edwards and Gordon.
A Quality Victory
- James Madison entered the game against Valpo at No. 78 in the KenPom rankings and had a 6-1 record with the lone loss coming 80-64 at the nation’s No. 1 team, North Carolina.
- The Dukes entered the game leading the nation in scoring margin by outscoring the opposition by an average of 34.7 points per game.
- James Madison entered the contest third in the nation in scoring offense at 94.9 points per game, but the Beacons kept the Dukes to just 79 points despite playing an extra five minutes.
- James Madison had downed South Dakota State 79-60 after Valpo fell to the defending Summit League champion Jackrabbits by a 61-50 score as part of the multi-team event.
- Thursday’s game in Nashville will mark the final stop on a 10-day journey for Valpo Basketball.
- Valpo departed on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and will not return to campus until late on Thursday, Dec. 1 after games in three southern states. The Beacons will have a charter flight back to Northwest Indiana following Thursday’s matchup.
- The first game of this Thanksgiving trip was at Samford in Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday, Nov. 23. After that game, the team made its way to Savannah, Ga. for a multi-team event that featured games on Friday, Nov. 25 (vs. South Dakota State) and Sunday, Nov. 27 (vs. James Madison).
- Valpo’s 81-79 victory vs. James Madison on Nov. 27 marked the team’s first overtime contest of the year, but the program was no stranger to the extra session a year ago.
- Valpo played in six overtime games last season, the program’s most since tying an NCAA Division-I record with eight in 1993.
- The victory over the Dukes was just the second game decided by single figures this season with Valpo moving to 2-0 in those close contests (W 68-64 vs. Incarnate Word on Nov. 19).
- Valpo is now 8-8 in overtime games under Matt Lottich.
Fighting Through Foul Trouble
- Valpo overcame adversity in more ways than one in the Nov. 27 victory vs. James Madison. The Beacons recovered from back-to-back losses (at Samford, vs. South Dakota State) with a win over a quality opponent.
- Valpo pulled out a win despite battling extreme foul trouble. Preston Ruedinger, Maximus Nelson and Ibra Bayu all fouled out by the end of regulation, and leading scorer Ben Krikke joined them by the end of OT, becoming the fourth Beacon (and third starter) to pick up his fifth.
- Nick Edwards and Kobe King finished the game with four fouls apiece, as Valpo was in danger of running out of available scholarship players.
- This marked the first time Valpo had four players foul out of the same game since March 7, 2016, when Jubril Adekoya, Keith Carter, David Skara and Darien Walker all fouled out of a 99-92 loss to Green Bay in the Horizon League Tournament.
- Valpo prevailed in the game against the Dukes despite being outscored by 22 points at the free-throw line (30-8) due to James Madison having 29 more attempts (42-13).
- The Dukes’ 30 made free throws were the most by a Valpo opponent since Jan. 13, 2018 at UNI (31). Their 42 attempts were the most by a Valpo opponent since Dec. 20, 2017 at UC Riverside (42).
- The 42 attempted free throws tied for the 11th most in the country this season and the 30 makes also tied for 11th most nationally. The Beacons were whistled for 32 fouls.
- Valpo became the first team in the nation to win a game when the opponent had 40+ free-throw attempts this season.
- This came on the heels of the Nov. 25 game vs. South Dakota State, where Valpo became the first Division-I team in the nation with no free-throw tries in a game this year. Only two D-I teams did it all of last season – Miami (Feb. 5 at Virginia) and Merrimack (Nov. 21 at Virginia Tech). The SDSU game was Valpo’s first since at least the start of the 1989-90 season with no attempted free throws. The last time Valpo was awarded two or fewer free-throw attempts was Nov. 25, 2011 at Ohio State (2).
Edwards Stuffs the Stat Sheet
- Not only did Nick Edwards score the game-winning basket in the closing seconds of overtime on Nov. 27 vs. James Madison, but he posted a stat line that puts him in elite Valpo company.
- Edwards stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals.
- Edwards became just the third Valpo player since the start of the 2010-11 season with nine or more points, six or more rebounds, six or more assists and two or more steals in the same game, joining Javon Freeman-Liberty and Brandon Wood.
- Freeman-Liberty posted that stat line on three occasions – Dec. 21, 2019 vs. Arkansas, Dec. 8, 2019 vs. Central Michigan and Feb. 19, 2020 at Drake. Wood did so twice – Nov. 23, 2010 at Ohio and Nov. 18, 2010 vs. Purdue North Central.
- While three Valpo players have started all seven games this season – Ben Krikke, Kobe King and Quinton Green – the remaining positions have featured some shifting.
- Jerome Palm started the first five games of the season before freshman Maximus Nelson made the first two starts of his collegiate career at the Hostilo Community Classic in Savannah on Nov. 25 and Nov. 27. Nelson started at the four, shifting Krikke to the five.
- Valpo has used three different starting point guards this season. Nick Edwards got the nod for the first three games, followed by two games of Darius DeAveiro before Preston Ruedinger took the starting reins for the two games in Savannah.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 27: Valpo 81, James Madison 79 (OT)
- Valpo shot 50 percent for the game while holding James Madison to 41 percent.
- The Beacons won the rebounding battle for the first time this season, owning a 41-32 edge on the glass after being outrebounded in each of the season’s first six contests. Valpo squeezed 12 offensive rebounds to James Madison’s nine.
- Ben Krikke led the way with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Kobe King tallied 16 points.
- Quinton Green drained five 3s, tying a career high that he reached twice during his tenure at Division-II Cedarville and again in his Valpo debut at Toledo. The sharpshooter tallied 18 points in the win.
- Jerome Palm played 17 minutes and pulled down seven rebounds. He has seven or more boards in three of his five games this season.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 25: South Dakota State 61, Valpo 50
- Kobe King posted a team-high 18 points. Ben Krikke (12) and Quinton Green (10) joined King in double figures. Krikke was a carom shy of a double-double as he paced the team with nine rebounds.
- The 61 points marked the fewest Valpo has permitted in a game this season.
- The Beacons held the Jackrabbits to just 26.9 percent shooting in the opening half, Valpo’s best single half in terms of field-goal percentage defense since holding Indiana State to 19.2 percent in the first half on Feb. 27, 2021.
- Valpo had a season-high 10 steals with four players swiping two each. This was Valpo’s first double-figure steal game since Dec. 22, 2021 vs. William & Mary (12).
- The game was tied at halftime, Valpo’s first halftime tie since an eventual 77-71 loss at Vanderbilt on Nov. 27, 2020.
Bayu Back in Action
- Ibra Bayu made his season debut on Nov. 23 at Samford.
- The freshman from the Netherlands had missed the first four games due a hernia.
- He played 14 minutes off the bench and pulled down six rebounds.
- His first collegiate basket came on a dunk in the final minute of the contest.
- Since then, Bayu played 15 minutes vs. South Dakota State and 17 vs. James Madison.
- Kobe King has scored in double figures in 26 of his 30 games in a Valpo uniform, including each of the first seven games this season.
- He’s poured in 16 or more in each of his last three games.
- King is shooting 84.2 percent (16-of-19) from the free-throw line this season after finishing at 68 percent or lower in each of the last three seasons.
- The former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball has scored 15 points or more in six of his seven games this season. He has a pair of 20-point outputs this year and four in his collegiate career.
- He has scored 15 or more points in 16 of his 30 games with the Beacons.
- King is up to 31 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.
Krikke Among National Leaders
- Ben Krikke ranks ninth in the nation in made field goals with a league-most 58.
- He is fourth in the nation in minutes per game at 37:43.
- The senior forward is 16th nationally in field-goal attempts (112), 29th in points (136) and 41st in points per game (19.4).
- Ben Krikke reached double figures in each of the two games in Savannah, most recently scoring a game-high 23 points and pulling down seven rebounds in the Nov. 27 win over James Madison.
- Krikke has scored 20 points or more four times this season and 13 times in his collegiate career. He has tallied in double figures six times in the first seven games in 2022-2023.
- Krikke got off to a strong start to his fourth season at Valpo, as the Edmonton native scored 18 points or more in each of his first four games including three straight with 20 or more points.
- Krikke became 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.
- 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 Dec. 1 at Belmont, Krikke has scored 1,110 career points. He is 86 points away from cracking the top 20 in program history.
- Entering Dec. 1 at Belmont, the Valpo forward has played in 97 career games, three away from 100. He still has another year of eligibility remaining after this one. The threshold to crack the program’s all-time top 10 for games played 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Scouting the Bruins
- Picked to finish sixth of 12 in the MVC preseason poll.
- Ben Sheppard was named to the Preseason All-MVC First Team. Each team in this matchup has a player named Ben who was tabbed to the Preseason All-MVC First Team.
- Own a three-game winning streak with victories over George Mason (66-62), Howard (96-73) and Georgia State (68-66).
- Went 25-8 last season including a 15-3 Ohio Valley Conference record.
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.
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... Is teaching himself how to cook.
- #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 – Married his wife Liana English on Aug. 20, 2022. They met at Cedarville, where she was a member of the women's tennis team... 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.
- Valpo signed a trio of incoming student-athletes during the early signing period in November.
- 6-foot-9 forward Zane Dougherty (Avon, Ind. / Ben Davis), 6-foot-1 point guard Jahari Williamson (Pickering, Ontario, Canada / Royal Crown Academy) and 6-foot-6 combo guard Yanis Bamba (Laval, Quebec, Canada / Jean-de-Brebeuf) are poised to join the Valpo program for the 2023-2024 season.
- Lottich on Bamba: “Yanis is a little bit of a late bloomer,” Lottich said. “He’s from a very similar area to where Max (Joseph) and Tevonn (Walker) are from. He’s a native French speaker. He’s a big-body guard, about 6-6, 200. He’s very athletic and a very good passer. He was excited about the opportunity to come to Valpo, where he’s seen the improvement that players make here. I think he will come in and be able to compete right away because of his athleticism, size and physicality. He’s just scratching the surface of who he is as a basketball player.”
- Lottich on Williamson: “We saw Jahari in Milwaukee for the first time,” Lottich said. “The Canadian pipeline that we’ve had has been really good to us. He’s cerebral, and he shoots it really well. Recruiting internationally can be tougher because you don’t get your eyes on the players as much, but we were able to see Jahari play in some Canadian games where he was in high-level environments. This was similar to how we recruited Ben Krikke. Right now, Jahari is one of the five best players in Canada. His ability to stretch the defense and play with pick-and-rolls with the ball in his hands is going to be big for us.”
- Lottich on Doughty: “We saw him at a high school showcase, and what we really liked was his motor as a big man,” Lottich said. “There’s one thing that we don’t want to have to coach, and that’s effort. When you recruit big men, they are typically coming into their own and then have vast improvements when they get to college. In Zane’s case, one thing that really stood out to us was just how tenacious he was on both ends of the floor. He was rebounding out of his area and loves contact. We followed him throughout the summer and got to watch him play in a few high-level games. We love his toughness, and he really fits Valpo. He saw the family atmosphere at Valpo, and that resonated with him. His family is really important to him.”
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.