Luke Gore is entering his 20th year with the Valpo basketball program and his sixth season in his current role as associate head coach in 2021-2022. Gore has helped guide the team to eight postseason berths in the last 11 years, as well as the three winningest seasons in program history.
In his current role, Gore works with player development with an emphasis on post play. He also leads the staff’s scouting efforts and coordinates the team’s defense. Over his first 19 years, Gore has guided 13 all-conference post players and 13 post players who have gone on to professional basketball careers. Gore is also responsible for the program’s scheduling of future games.
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. Post player Ben Krikke earned third team all-conference, MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team and MVC Most Improved Team, the lone player in The Valley to earn all three honors.
During the 2019-2020 season, Gore’s focus on player development paid dividends in helping two of the team’s five returning players account for 40 percent of the Missouri Valley Conference Most-Improved Team. Valpo players were two of the five players on the most-improved squad. The season culminated with an unprecedented run to the MVC title game that saw Valpo become the first team in the 30-year history of Arch Madness to reach the final after playing in the opening round.
Thanks in part to Gore’s defensive schemes, Valpo set the program record for the fewest points allowed against a Division-I opponent since the advent of the shot clock on Feb. 12, 2020 in a 55-38 victory over Southern Illinois. Valpo held the Salukis to 23.6 percent shooting, the best field-goal percentage defense by a team in any MVC game since 2007.
Valpo’s defense averaged 7.7 steals per game in 2019-2020, ranking second in the MVC. The squad totaled 270 steals, a number that ranked 18th nationally. The team had its highest steals average since 2010-11 and second-highest over the last 16 seasons. In addition, Javon Freeman-Liberty ranked 12th nationally in total steals (74) and 15th in steals per game (2.24). He shattered Valpo’s program record for steals in a single season and became the first player since Hersey Hawkins (1986, 1987 and 1988) to lead The Valley in steals in consecutive seasons.
In Gore’s time on staff, Valpo has made 10 postseason trips, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and four Postseason NIT bids. Over his tenure, the programs has won 362 games, captured seven league regular season titles, and won one Mid-Con and two Horizon League tournament titles. The last 11 years have seen Valpo earn eight postseason berths, highlighted by a 28-win season and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014-2015, followed by a school-record 30-win season and a berth in the NIT title game in 2015-2016. In 2016-2017, Gore helped lead the team to a fifth Horizon League regular season title in a six-year span and an at-large bid into the NIT.
Gore has helped to sign recruiting classes ranked as high as 27th in the nation during his tenure. He also helped signed the top incoming class in the Horizon League entering the 2009-2010 season, according to The Sporting News.
Gore has also been a major part of the program’s partnership with Athletes in Action and their overseas tours. Most recently, Gore served as head coach in late May of 2017 which toured the Czech Republic and Poland. Gore previously was head coach of a team which visited West Africa in the summer of 2008, and traveled with an AIA team to Egypt in the summer of 2003.
A starting forward at NAIA Bethel College in McKenzie, Tenn. from 1998 to 2001, Gore earned Academic All-America honors as a senior. He helped Bethel to the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title during the 1998-99 season after transferring from Cumberland [Tenn.] University where he played his freshman year.
Gore graduated from Bethel in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and received a master’s in sports administration from Valpo in August of 2006. Born in Oak Park, Ill., Gore was raised in Paris, Tenn.
Luke and his wife Cheryl reside in Valparaiso with their son, Bartholomew, and daughter, Christine.