Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Valparaiso men's basketball head coach Bryce Drew was joined by seniors Lavonte Dority and Moussa Gueye and freshman Alec Peters following the Crusaders' loss to Columbia in the CIT Tuesday night, capping a season which featured a number of notable milestones.
As a team, the Crusaders finished the 2013-14 campaign with 18 victories for the program's fourth straight winning season. Within Horizon League play, Valpo finished 9-7 - its fourth-place finish coming two spots above where the team had been projected in the preseason polls. The Crusaders also came in above .500 in league play for the fifth straight year, the longest active streak among current Horizon League schools.
The postseason berth in the CIT marked the fourth consecutive season the Crusaders earned a spot in the postseason, while also going down as the program's 13th postseason appearance in the last 19 years. In fact, 22 straight classes of four-year players at Valpo have now participated in at least one postseason tournament during their time as a Crusader.
Individually, Dority put together a stellar senior season, finishing with 535 points on the year - just 30 points shy of the Crusaders' single-season top-10 chart. The Chicago native hit 145 free throws for the season, third-most in a single season in Valpo history and the most by any Crusader in 44 years. For his two years at Valpo, Dority connected at an 83.8% clip from the free-throw line, the fourth-best mark all-time at Valpo.
Gueye capped his lone season as a Crusader by breaking the program's single-season record for blocked shots on Tuesday in the season finale. The native of Thies, Senegal tallied four blocks in his final game, the first breaking the previous record held by Raitis Grafs and the last setting the new standard of 71 rejections.
Gueye combined with junior Vashil Fernandez, who closed the year fourth in the Crusader single-season record book with 58 blocks, to help shatter the previous program record for team blocks in a season, as Valpo totaled 173 blocked shots for the year. Combined with his sophomore year, Fernandez now has 72 career blocks, tied for tenth-most in a career at Valpo and well within striking distance of second place. Both Fernandez and Gueye also matched the program's single-game blocked shots record during the season as well, as each had a game with seven blocks.
Meanwhile, Peters put together one of the most prolific freshman campaigns by a Crusader in quite some time. Peters started all 34 games, becoming the first Valpo freshman since 1998-99 (Lubos Barton & Milo Stovall) to start every game of his rookie season. The Washington, Ill. native closed the year with 433 points scored, most by a freshman since Barton scored 441 points as a freshman, and also grabbed 164 rebounds, the most by a Crusader rookie since Raitis Grafs (1999-2000) pulled down 184 rebounds. Peters and Dority each had multiple games where they scored at least 30 points as well, joining a group of just six Crusaders in the last two decades who have scored 30 or more points twice in their career.