Matt Lottich enters his eighth season overall at Valparaiso University and fifth as the head coach of the men’s basketball program in 2020-2021. He owns a 73-60 record over his first four seasons as head coach.
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 led the program to its first conference championship game appearance since 2015 during the 2019-2020 campaign, doing so after being picked to finish ninth of 10 in the preseason poll. Valpo reached the conference title game as only a third-year MVC member, becoming the first Valpo team in any sport to do so during the department’s young tenure in the prestigious league. After finishing with its highest conference win total, highest overall win total and highest finish in the league standings since joining The Valley, Valpo accepted a postseason tournament invitation to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The event was ultimately canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
During the 2019-2020 season, Lottich led the program to its largest win increase from the previous season (four) since jumping from 18 wins in 2013-14 to 28 in 2014-15. Valpo finished with a winning record during the nonconference portion of the season for the 10th straight year. In addition, the program continued its history of home dominance and hasn’t finished with a losing mark at the ARC since 1991-92, extending its streak to 28 seasons. Valpo achieved a double-figure home win total for the ninth time in the last 10 years.
The 2019-2020 team’s finest hour came on the biggest stage, as Lottich led the squad to three victories in as many days at Arch Madness, the 2020 State Farm MVC Men’s Basketball Tournament in St. Louis. Lottich’s team came from 18 down to upset Loyola in the MVC quarterfinal, tying for the second-biggest comeback in MVC Tournament history. During his time guiding the program, Lottich has instilled a no-quit attitude, as his team has erased double-figure deficits to win 15 times over his first four seasons while coughing up a double-figure advantage just once in that span. The Loyola comeback marked the sixth time in 2019-2020 that Valpo came from double figures down to win. On 11 occasions, Valpo trailed by at least 10 points and eventually tied the game or took the lead. Valpo also became just the second team in the long history of the Missouri Valley Conference to come from 17 or more down to win twice in one season, joining Creighton from 2007-2008.
Working with a young team that featured just five returning players from the previous season, Lottich mentored a 2019-2020 First Team All-MVC selection, MVC All-Defensive Team choice, MVC All-Freshman Team honoree, MVC All-Bench pick, MVC Scholar-Athlete Second Team selection and a pair of MVC All-Tournament Team performers. Perhaps most noteworthy of all, the program’s emphasis on player development paid dividends as Valpo accounted for 40 percent of the MVC Most-Improved Team. Two of the program’s five returning players found themselves honored on the five-player most-improved squad.
Lottich’s team committed just 12.7 turnovers per game in 2019-2020 while ranking second in the league with 72.3 points per game, second with 7.7 steals per game and first with 15.2 assists per contest, leading a league in that category for the first time since 2011-12.
Other noteworthy feats for Lottich’s squad in 2019-2020 included making 18 3-pointers in a game against Bradley to set the league-only MVC record, holding Southern Illinois to 38 points to set the program record for the fewest allowed against a Division-I opponent since the advent of the shot clock, snapping a 22-game losing streak in games at Evansville that had dated back to 1969, breaking through with its first win over Loyola since joining The Valley after previously going 0-7 against the program’s Chicagoland rival and twice turning a double-figure defeat from the first half of the MVC double-round robin into a double-figure victory in the second meeting with that opponent.
The 2018-2019 season saw Lottich lead Valpo to 15 wins. The season was headlined by road victories over UNLV and George Washington during the nonconference portion of the schedule, as well as a 4-0 start to Missouri Valley Conference play.
During 2018-2019, Lottich helped coach one of the top freshmen in program history, as Javon Freeman-Liberty was named to the MVC All-Defensive and All-Freshman Teams. Freeman-Liberty led the MVC in steals and moved into third on the program’s single-season chart in the category, setting a new Valpo freshman record. Freeman-Liberty also scored the fourth-most points and grabbed the fifth-most rebounds by a freshman in program history.
Lottich led Valpo to 15 victories in his second season in charge in 2017-2018 and guided the team through the move to the MVC, which ended the campaign ranked eighth nationally in conference RPI.
In his first season at the helm of the Valpo men’s basketball program, Lottich guided the team to its fifth Horizon League regular season championship in a six-year span as he led Valpo to 24 wins and an at-large berth into the NIT. Lottich’s inaugural season as head coach was highlighted by a home win over a nationally-ranked Rhode Island squad as well as neutral-site triumphs over Alabama and BYU to capture the MGM Grand Main Event.
Lottich coached the Horizon League Player of the Year and an NABC Third Team All-American in Alec Peters, guiding the senior as he closed out one of the top careers in program history. Peters enjoyed his finest season as a senior, ranking among the Top 20 in the nation in both scoring and rebounding and breaking five of Valpo’s career records.
Lottich was hired as the 22nd head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program in April 2016. After spending the previous three seasons on staff as an assistant coach, he became just the fifth Valpo head coach in a 36-year span.
Lottich arrived at Valparaiso University in summer 2013 and helped guide the team to 78 victories over his three seasons as an assistant. Valpo won two Horizon League regular season championships and one league tournament title over those three years.
The team recorded the top two victory totals in program history over Lottich's final two years as an assistant. Valpo broke the previous school record for wins in a season during the 2014-2015 campaign, winning 28 games and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Then, the 2015-2016 season saw Valpo win a program-record 30 games and advance to the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden.
Lottich brings nearly a decade of professional playing experience to the head coaching position at Valparaiso University. He spent eight years playing professionally in Japan for the Oita Heat Devils and the Osaka Evessa, earning All-Star recognition four times. He also played one season in Germany in the Bundesliga for the Dusseldorf Giants, played one season in New Zealand in the NBL for the Harbor Heat and was a member of the New Jersey Nets’ summer league team in 2004.
Lottich played collegiately at Stanford University from 2000-2004. As a senior in 2003-2004, he helped lead the Cardinal to the Pac-10 title while earning NABC All-Star plaudits, awarded to the Top 15 seniors in college basketball. He was also a member of the Wooden Award midseason watch list and was an Honorable Mention All Pac-10 selection as a senior. Lottich was a member of the program’s conference championship squad as a freshman in 2000-2001 and still ranks among Stanford’s single-season and career leaders in 3-pointers made.
Off the court, Lottich came to Valpo from the National Collegiate Scouting Association, where he started in January 2013. Lottich ascended to the position of head scout during his time with the NCSA, which helps high school athletes navigate the world of college recruiting. Lottich also co-founded the TEAM Life Skills basketball camp in 2004 and spent nine years managing and developing the camp.
Lottich played his prep basketball at New Trier [Ill.] H.S., where he was named the Chicago Tribune Athlete of the Year in 2000 and holds the distinction of being the program’s all-time leading scorer. Lottich graduated from Stanford University in 2004 and currently resides in Valparaiso with his wife, Kylan, and their four children: Grace, Matthan, Christian and Landon.