Valpo Returns to MVC Play Wednesday vs. Loyola
Monday, January 18, 2021
Valpo Returns to MVC Play Wednesday vs. Loyola
Goodnews Kpegeol had a season-high seven rebounds on Saturday at DePaul.

Loyola (10-3, 5-1 MVC)
at Valparaiso (3-8, 0-2 MVC)

Game No. 12 – Wednesday, Jan. 20 – 6 p.m. CT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.

Next Up in Valpo Basketball: After having six of its first eight scheduled Missouri Valley Conference games postponed, the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will begin a busy stretch of Valley action on Wednesday night. The team is scheduled to play 14 games in a 33-day span starting with Wednesday’s home date with nearby foe Loyola. This is a rematch of last year’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal, when Valpo came from 18 down to upset the Ramblers 74-73 in overtime on a last-second layup by Eron Gordon.

Last Time Out: After this past weekend’s scheduled series with Southern Illinois was postponed due to positive COVID-19 test results within Southern Illinois’ team personnel, Valpo added a nonconference game at DePaul on Saturday, a 77-58 setback at Wintrust Arena. The game came together on Wednesday after DePaul’s matchup with Georgetown was postponed and was announced on Thursday morning, just two days before the contest. It was the first time Valpo and DePaul had matched up since 1980.

Following Valpo Basketball: Video – The Valley on ESPN Exclusive (ESPN+) – Jordan Bernfield (play-by-play) and David Kaplan (analyst)

Radio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Zach Collins (analyst)

Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball

Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at

Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (76-68) is in his eighth season overall at Valpo and fifth as head coach in 2020-21. 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, 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.

Noteworthy Trends

  • Reaching 80 points has been the key number for Valpo this season, as the team is 3-0 when scoring 80 or more, but 0-8 when scoring fewer than 80. The 80-point precipice has led to victories throughout the Matt Lottich Era, as the team is 34-2 when scoring 80 during his tenure. Valpo was 25-15 under Lottich when scoring 70-79 points entering this season, but is 0-3 in such games this year.
  • Eron Gordon has led the team (outright or tied) in rebounding in three straight games and four total this season after not doing so at all a year ago. He has upped his rebounding average from 2.3 per game in 2019-20 to 4.2 per game this season and is second on the team behind only Donovan Clay.
  • Gordon has back-to-back double-figure scoring outputs for the second time in his Valpo career and first since Dec. 18 (at High Point, 20) and Dec. 21 (at Arkansas, 10) last season.
  • Daniel Sackey is in the top 10 in the Missouri Valley Conference in free-throw percentage, a far cry from two years ago as a freshman, when he was seventh on his own team in that category. He has climbed from 63.8 percent as a freshman to 70.8 percent as a sophomore to 83.3 percent (20-of-24) as a junior this season.
  • Ben Krikke is 9-for-9 from the free-throw line over Valpo’s last five games. His last miss came on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan.
  • If Krikke reaches doubles figures on Wednesday, it will be his ninth time in double figures in the first 12 games of his sophomore season, matching his total number of double-figure outputs in 33 games as a freshman last season. He had scored in double figures in five straight before having that stretch snapped on Saturday at DePaul, when he was limited to six points.
  • Jacob Ognacevic is an efficient 9-for-13 shooting over his last five games despite two games in that stretch where he totaled just one field-goal attempt (Dec. 19 at Toledo, Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State). He went 4-of-7 for 13 points in just 12 minutes on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State.
  • Valpo has won the turnover battle in six of its last eight games.
  • A win on Wednesday would help Valpo avoid its first five-game losing streak since Jan. 13-27, 2018. Valpo is also hoping to avoid an 0-3 start to conference play, something it has done just once over the last 20 years.
  • One area where the team hopes to show improvement this weekend is on the glass. Valpo has been outrebounded in six straight games, nine out of 11 this season and 16 of the last 20 games dating back to last season.
  • Valpo has given up more offensive rebounds than it would like this season, with a league-low defensive rebounding percentage of 70.2.
  • Entering Wednesday, Donovan Clay has started 44 consecutive games. He made his first start during the third game of his freshman season (2019-20) and has started every game since.

Notes Wrapping Up Jan. 16 at DePaul

  • Goodnews Kpegeol, who returned after missing the previous two games due to COVID-19 protocols, had a season-high seven rebounds to share the team lead with Eron Gordon. After entering the game with 11 total rebounds this season, the junior college transfer nearly doubled that total against the Blue Demons. Kpegeol also went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to finish with eight points in addition to swiping three steals.
  • Eron Gordon led the team with 12 points, pacing the squad in scoring for the second straight game after not doing so in any of his first 44 career contests at Valpo. The senior also led the team in rebounding for the fourth time this season (and third straight game) after not doing so at all during the 2019-20 season. This marked his second straight game with seven rebounds, one shy of his career high that occurred in the season opener at Vanderbilt.
  • Daniel Sackey contributed a season-high nine points and six boards, equaling a career high on the glass. This marked Sackey’s fourth career six-rebound game and first this season. He was a bright spot, adding three assists and no turnovers at the point-guard spot to his stat line.
  • After going with the same starting lineup for six consecutive games, head coach Matt Lottich switched it up at DePaul as senior Mileek McMillan made his first start since Dec. 6. He was limited late in the nonconference slate while battling tendinitis. Freshman Connor Barrett returned to a bench role, joining fellow rookies Sheldon Edwards and Jacob Ognacevic as the first three players off the bench.
  • Valpo outscored DePaul at the free-throw line 19-14, the first time this season the team outscored its opponent at the free-throw line and lost. Previously, Valpo was 0-7 when being outscored on foul shots and 3-0 when outscoring the opponent at the stripe.
  • The foul line was a bright spot for Valpo, as the team went 19-of-23 (82.6 percent), its second-best free-throw percentage of the year behind 83.3 (20-of-24) at Central Michigan. Valpo started the game against DePaul 17-for-17 at the charity stripe before its first misfire with 5:52 left in the second half.
  • Valpo shot a season-low 34 percent from the field and went 3-of-15 (20 percent) from 3-point distance. The Brown & Gold also turned it over 16 times, snapping a stretch of three straight games with fewer than 10 turnovers, its first such stretch since 2016-17, the team’s final season in the Horizon League and Matt Lottich’s first as Valpo head coach.
  • This game was Valpo’s latest regular-season nonconference game since hosting Eastern Kentucky as part of ESPN’s BracketBusters event on Feb. 23, 2013.
  • Valpo and DePaul matched up for the first time since Feb. 13, 1980. It was Valpo’s first game against a Big East team since Nov. 27, 2006 at Marquette. The defeat snapped a four-game winning streak against current members of the Big East with all four victories coming against Butler when both teams were in the Horizon League.                                                                       

MVC Play Finally Underway

  • Valpo played its first MVC games of the season on Jan. 9-10, starting conference play at home for the third straight season, this time vs. Missouri State.
  • The Jan. 9 start to conference play marked Valpo’s latest since head coach Scott Drew’s team commenced the Mid-Continent Conference slate on Jan. 11, 2003 vs. Western Illinois.
  • Wednesday vs. Loyola will mark Valpo’s third straight home game to start conference play, the first time since the aforementioned 2002-03 campaign – current Baylor head coach Scott Drew’s lone season as Valpo head coach – that Valpo has started conference play with three straight home dates. Valpo hosted Western Illinois, Southern Utah and Chicago State to begin Mid-Con action that season.

Facing Chicago Foes

  • This will be the third Valpo opponent that calls Chicago home this season, as the team has played nonconference games at DePaul and UIC. This will mark just the second season in the long history of Valpo basketball that the program has played DePaul, UIC and Loyola all in the same year, joining the 1979-1980 campaign.
  • When Valpo makes the return trip to Loyola on Feb. 17, it will be the team’s third game in the Windy City this season. This will mark the first time in program history Valpo has played at UIC, Loyola and DePaul all in the same season.

Series Notes: Loyola

  • Valpo snapped a seven-game head-to-head losing streak to Loyola in memorable fashion with a 74-73 overtime victory over the Ramblers in the quarterfinal round of the State Farm MVC Tournament last March. Eron Gordon hit a game-winning layup in the final seconds of overtime to complete the upset victory. Seventh-seeded Valpo trailed by as many as 18 points before roaring back to knock off the second-seeded Ramblers.
  • The three matchups between these two teams last season were all decided by three points or fewer, with Loyola winning both regular-season clashes by a total of five points before Valpo’s one-point win in the MVC Tournament.
  • By comparison, before this stretch of three straight meetings decided by three points or fewer, 16 straight Valpo-Loyola meetings had been decided by more than three points, dating back to Jan. 26, 2007. In fact, there were more games decided by three points or fewer between Valpo and Loyola last season (3) than there were in the previous 54 all-time meetings (2).
  • The Arch Madness victory a year ago was Valpo’s first against Loyola since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • These teams are the two newest Missouri Valley Conference members. The nearby rivals both came over from the Horizon League, where they were conference adversaries from the time Valpo joined prior to the 2007-2008 season to Loyola’s departure after the 2012-2013 campaign.
  • Valpo is 16-41 all-time against Loyola including a 7-20 mark in matchups at the ARC. Loyola has returned to Rogers Park victorious following each of its last four trips to Northwest Indiana. Valpo’s last home win over Loyola came on Feb. 21, 2012, 66-62 in overtime.
  • Valpo is seeking its first regular-season win over the Ramblers in MVC play.

Inside the Ramblers

  • Picked to finish second in the MVC Preseason Poll.
  • Led by MVC Preseason First Team selection Cameron Krutwig, a three-time all-MVC pick and a first-team choice each of the last two years. He became the first player in Valley history to finish a season in the top five in the league in points, rebounds, assists and field-goal percentage last year.
  • Tate Hall and Marquise Kennedy were tabbed to the MVC Preseason Third Team.
  • Loyola has averaged 24.3 wins per season over the last three years, all 20-win campaigns.
  • Head coach Porter Moser is in his 10th
  • All five starters are back from last year’s team.
  • Own a three-game winning streak, most recently sweeping a weekend series from MVC preseason favorite UNI including a lopsided 88-46 victory on Sunday.
  • Krutwig paces the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game and rebounding at 5.9 per game.

Home Sweet Home

  • Valpo went undefeated at home during the nonconference slate and has won eight straight nonconference home games dating back to Dec. 17, 2018 vs. Ball State.
  • Valpo got off to 3-0 home start for the fifth straight season, as the team owns a 15-0 record in the first three home games of the season since 2015-16.
  • In contrast, Valpo has lost its first six road games of a season for the first time since 2002-03. It’s worth noting that the 2002-03 squad did go on to win the Mid-Con regular season title and qualify for the NIT.
  • Valpo started the season 2-0 at home for the 14th consecutive year. Since a 65-62 home loss to No. 8 Marquette on Nov. 27, 2006, Valpo is 27-0 in the first two home games of the season.
  • Valpo has now won the home opener for 16 consecutive seasons with 14 of those victories coming by double figures. The last time Valpo started the home slate with a loss was an 85-71 defeat to Charlotte on Nov. 27, 2004.
  • Valpo continued its history of home dominance a year ago 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 Brown & Gold went 11-2 at the ARC last season, finishing with two home losses or fewer for the fourth time in the last eight years.

Notes Wrapping Up Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State (Missouri State 78, Valpo 68)

  • Valpo hosted home games on back-to-back days for the first time since starting the 2016-17 season with home dates vs. Southern Utah (Nov. 11) and Trinity Christian (Nov. 12), the first two games under Matt Lottich.
  • Valpo boasted four players in double figures, led by Jacob Ognacevic and Eron Gordon with 13 points apiece. Gordon paced the team in scoring for the first time in his Valpo career, while Ognacevic did so for the second time during his freshman season.
  • Gordon’s scoring output represented a season high, his top performance since Feb. 22 of last season, when he scored 13 vs. Bradley. Gordon was three rebounds away from a double-double as he pulled down seven, one shy of his career high from this year’s season opener at Vanderbilt.
  • Ognacevic’s 13 points came on 4-of-7 shooting in just 12 minutes of action.
  • Sheldon Edwards reached nine points for the second straight day, this time finishing with 10 points. He has scored in double figures on four occasions this season.
  • Ben Krikke scored 12 points to finish in double figures for the eighth time in the season’s first 10 games.
  • Daniel Sackey sent out a team-high six assists while also going 5-of-6 at the free-throw line and swiping a pair of steals.
  • Missouri State’s Gaige Prim posted a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with Isiaih Mosley’s 29-point performance. Mosley’s 26 second-half points marked the most by a Valpo opponent in a single half since Reggie Hamilton of Oakland had 28 in the second half on Dec. 17, 2011.
  • Valpo was held to a then season-low 35.4 percent shooting, but did haul in 11 offensive rebounds, snapping a streak of three straight games with five or fewer.
  • Valpo dropped back-to-back home contests for the first time since December 2018 vs. High Point and Ball State.

Notes Wrapping Up Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State (Missouri State 81, Valpo 68)

  • Valpo shot a season-high 40.7 percent from 3-point range (11-of-27). It was the team’s highest 3-point clip since going 11-of-22 on Feb. 25 of last season, also at home against Missouri State. However, Valpo’s overall shooting percentage of 41.1 on Jan. 9 was its lowest in the last seven games to that point.
  • Valpo had a season-low seven turnovers. The team had just one game all of last season where it committed seven or fewer turnovers, also vs. Missouri State (7 in MVC semifinal matchup). It was the team’s fifth time under Matt Lottich (fifth season) with seven turnovers or fewer, and three have come vs. Missouri State.
  • Donovan Clay enjoyed his fourth career 20-point game and his second this season. The sophomore’s 21 points marked a season high, surpassing his output of 20 from Dec. 12 at Central Michigan.
  • Clay finished one-point shy of a career high, which occurred in last season’s home matchup with Missouri State (Feb. 25), when he scored 22 points. Half of Clay’s scoring outputs of 20+ have coming against Missouri State.
  • This was the second straight year Clay made four 3s in the MVC opener, as both of his career games with four 3-pointers came to open up MVC play (Dec. 30, 2019 vs. Loyola).
  • 9 vs. Missouri State marked Clay’s 25th career double-figure scoring showing and his sixth in the first nine games this season.
  • Ben Krikke had shattered his previous season high by halftime on his way to his career-high 21. His previous season watermark was 16 at Toledo (Dec. 19) and his previous career best was 18 vs. Trinity Christian (Nov. 27, 2019).
  • Krikke’s 17 points in the first half were the most in a single half by a Valpo player this season, surpassing Jacob Ognacevic’s 16-point second half vs. Judson. Krikke joins Javon Freeman-Liberty (twice), Tevonn Walker (twice) and Alec Peters (twice during his senior season, Lottich’s first season) as the only four players with 17 or more first-half points in a game during the Matt Lottich Era.
  • Connor Barrett finished with 11 points for his fourth double-figure scoring output of the season. Before being held to three points on Sunday, Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State, Barrett had scored nine points or more in five of his previous six games.
  • Barrett accounted for five of the team’s nine steals, matching his steal total from the season’s first eight games in one game on Saturday, Jan. 9 to double his season total to 10 (now 11). He became the first Valpo player with five steals in a game since Freeman-Liberty on Feb. 15 of last season at Illinois State and the first player not named Javon with a five-steal game since Tevonn Walker on Jan. 13, 2018 at UNI.
  • Barrett joined the short list of players with five or more steals in a game during the Matt Lottich Era: Javon Freeman-Liberty (3), Lexus Williams (3) and Tevonn Walker (2).
  • Edwards chipped in nine points as freshmen and sophomores (specifically, the quartet of Krikke, Edwards, Clay and Barrett) accounted for 62 of the team’s 68 points (91.1 percent).
  • Valpo’s last two games with a pair of 20-point scorers have both come against Missouri State (Donovan Clay & Ryan Fazekas, Feb. 25, 2020; Clay & Krikke, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021).
  • Missouri State’s 70.8 percent shooting clip in the first half was the highest by a Valpo opponent in a single half since Dec. 28, 2017 (at Indiana State, 72.2 percent, 2nd half). Missouri State’s performance was the highest shooting percentage in the first half of a game by a Valpo opponent since Jan. 13, 1992 (vs. Western Illinois, 72.3 percent).
  • The defeat snapped a six-game home winning streak that dated back to Feb. 5 of last season (L 63-51 vs. UNI). All six wins during that streak came by 12 points or more.

Krikke’s Big Half

When Ben Krikke scored 17 points in the opening half on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State, he became just the fourth different Valpo player with 17 or more points before halftime during the Matt Lottich head coaching tenure (fifth season). Below is a list of instances of Valpo players with 17+ points in the first half of a game since Lottich took over in 2016-17.

Player                                     Points             Opponent                   Date

Ben Krikke                             17                    vs. Missouri State       Jan. 9, 2021

Javon Freeman-Liberty          17                    at UNI                         Jan. 15, 2020

Javon Freeman-Liberty          20                    at Illinois State            Feb. 5, 2019

Tevonn Walker                       18                    at SIUE                       Feb. 15, 2018

Tevonn Walker                       19                    vs. Drake                     Jan. 10, 2018

Alec Peters                             17                    vs. Wright State          Jan. 27, 2017

Alec Peters                             23                    vs. Indiana State         Dec. 17, 2016

A Look Back at 2019-20: 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, head coach Matt Lottich’s team did more than hold its own, 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. 

Preseason Picks

  • Sophomore Donovan Clay was named to the Preseason MVC Second Team.
  • Valpo was picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll based on a survey of the conference’s head coaches, media members and sports information directors.
  • Valpo exceeded preseason expectations a year ago after being picked to finish ninth. The Brown & Gold tied for sixth in the regular-season standings and went on to finish as the conference tournament runner-up.

Who’s Back, Who’s New?

  • This year’s team features 11 returning letter winners (nine scholarship, two walk-on) to go along with six newcomers (four scholarship, two walk-on).
  • Three letter winners departed from last year’s team.
  • Valpo returns 59.2 percent of its scoring and 64.3 percent of its rebounding from last season. Both numbers are up from a year ago, when Valpo returned just 40.1 percent of its scoring and 35.7 percent of its rebounding from 2018-19.
  • Last season, the entire roster was from either Indiana, Illinois or outside the United States. This year, Valpo has added three additional states to the mix in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida.
  • Still, six players hail from Illinois and four from Indiana. The six Illinois natives are the most since 2015-16.
  • Coincidentally, Valpo’s last player from the state of Florida before Sheldon Edwards shares the same last name. Lakeland native Richie Edwards played for the Brown & Gold during the 2011-2012 campaign.
  • Goodnews Kpegeol is the first Valpo player from the state of Minnesota since Cory Johnson’s final season on campus in 2010-2011.
  • Jacob Ognacevic is Valpo’s first player from Wisconsin since Andrew Ferry in 2008-2009.

Arrow Pointed Up

  • Valpo made its first conference championship appearance since 2015, doing so after being picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll.
  • Valpo reached the conference title game as only a third-year Missouri Valley Conference member. When Valpo transitioned from the Mid-Continent Conference to the Horizon League prior to the 2007-2008 season, the program didn’t reach the conference championship game until Year 5 and followed by winning its first Horizon League Tournament title in Year 6.
  • The men’s basketball program became the first Valpo team in any sport to reach the Missouri Valley Conference championship game during the department’s young tenure in the prestigious league.
  • Valpo accepted a postseason tournament invitation for the first time since joining The Valley, agreeing to a Tournament berth before the event was canceled due to the coronavirus.
  • The program had 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, Valpo 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.

2019-20 Team Statistical Feats

  • Led the Missouri Valley Conference in assists per game at 15.2, the first time Valpo led a conference in that area since pacing the Horizon League in 2011-2012. The 15.2 assists per game was Valpo’s highest total since 2010-11 (15.8 apg) and the team’s second-highest output over the last 13 seasons. The squad ranked 29th nationally in assists per game and 12th in total assists.
  • Averaged 7.7 steals per game to rank second in the MVC and totaled 270 steals, a number that ranked 18th The team had its highest steals average since 2010-11 and the second-highest over the last 16 seasons.
  • The team averaged 72.3 points per game, second in the MVC. That was the team’s second-highest scoring average over the last eight seasons. In addition, the team jumped 5.5 points per game from 2018-19 to 2019-20.
  • Valpo made 287 3-pointers, the team’s second-most since 2008-09 and the third-most over the last 30 years.
  • The team had 922 made field goals, its third most over the last 30 years.
  • Valpo committed just 12.7 turnovers per game, the team’s lowest total over the last 30 seasons.

2020 Arch Madness Accomplishments

  • The Valpo/Loyola quarterfinal was the 18th overtime game in MVC Tournament history and the 20th game decided by a single point. It was the first one-point game in the MVC Tournament since Indiana State’s 51-50 victory over Evansville in 2013.
  • Valpo’s 89 points in the MVC semifinal against Missouri State were the seventh-most in a game in the 30-year history of Arch Madness. It was the highest scoring output in any MVC Tournament contest since Creighton put 99 on Evansville on March 3, 2012.
  • Valpo scored 287 points in the MVC Tournament, the third most in the history of the event and the most since Indiana State scored 310 in 1978.
  • The team’s 138 rebounds were the fourth most in MVC Tournament history and the most since Tulsa had 143 in 1978.
  • The 107 made field goals were the third most in MVC Tournament history and the most since Indiana State in 1978.
  • The 29 made 3-point field goals tied for the second most in MVC Tournament history (despite going 0-for against Evansville), joining 2009 Illinois State (32) and 1999 Evansville (29).
  • The 90 3-point field goal attempts shattered the previous tournament record of 76 (Drake 2008, Illinois State 2009).
  • Valpo made 10 3-pointers in the conference championship game, tying for the fourth most in the history of the MVC Final just a few days removed from hitting no 3s in a win over Evansville. Valpo became the first team to make zero 3s in an MVC Tournament Game since Southern Illinois went 0-for-6 on March 5, 1994 vs. Missouri State.
  • Valpo’s 29 3-point attempts in the MVC final tied for the second most in the history of the title game, joining Illinois State in 2009 (35 vs. UNI 2009) and Illinois State in 2012 (29 vs. Creighton).
  • Only one team since 1994 had made 15 or more field goals in the first half of an MVC title game (Drake 16 vs. Illinois State in 2008), and Valpo and Bradley had 15 apiece in the first half of this year’s championship game.
  • Valpo made seven 3s in the first half of the title game against Bradley, tying the MVC Tournament title game record of seven set by Southern Illinois on March 7, 1989 vs. Creighton. Valpo set the conference title game record for 3-point attempts in the first half with 16, eclipsing the previous mark of 15 set by Illinois State on March 8, 2009 vs. UNI.
  • Ryan Fazekas’ 21 3-point attempts in the MVC Tournament tied for the ninth-most in the history of the event.

Staff Sidebars

  • Associate head coach Luke Gore is in his 19th 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 10 years and was on staff for the three winningest seasons in program history. He oversees the team’s post players in addition to leading Valpo’s scheduling and scouting efforts.
  • Assistant coach Rob Holloway is back for his third season after spending the previous two years on staff at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.
  • 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.
  • Director of Basketball Operations Jason Karys is in his second season in that capacity, but has been around the program in a variety of roles, spending two years as a graduate assistant, one as a walk-on player and three as a manager.
  • Bob Brooks is in his 17th year as Valpo Director of Strength & Conditioning at Valpo and has returned to oversight of men’s basketball strength & conditioning in 2020-21. He has worked with Valpo teams since 1994.
  • Graduate Assistant Peter Funk is in his second year in that role after three years as an undergraduate manager.
  • Athletic trainer Ken DeAngelis is in his second season full-time at Valpo after previously earning his master’s degree from the University in 2012 while spending two years as a graduate assistant athletic trainer.

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 10 years, including last year 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 NBA players in the last three years. 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-present).
  • Valpo has produced over 50 professional players in the last 25 years.

#0 Goodnews Kpegeol, R-So. (St. Paul, Minn.)

  • Squeezed a season-high seven rebounds on Jan. 16 at DePaul to share the team lead. Also went 6-for-6 at the free-throw line to finish with eight points in addition to swiping three steals.
  • Posted the first double-figure scoring output of his collegiate career with 10 points on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
  • Scored his first collegiate points and finished with nine in 27 minutes of action on Dec. 4 at Purdue.
  • Made his Valpo debut in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt.
  • Joins the program as a junior college transfer after averaging 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds at Southwest Mississippi in 2019-20.
  • Started the 2018-19 season at Taylor Made Prep in Pensacola, Fla., then transfered to Kansas State at the semester break and sat out the remainder of that season due to transfer rules.
  • Was a four-year letter winner at North High School in St. Paul, leading his team to a 22-5 overall mark and 15-1 conference record as a senior.
  • Played his high school basketball for Damian Johnson, who played collegiately at the University of Minnesota before going on to a professional career from 2010-2016. Johnson was teammates with Valpo head coach Matt Lottich when both played for the Oita Heat Devils in Japan in 2010-2011.
  • First name comes from his parents’ belief that he could bring something good into the world.

#1 Sigurd Lorange, So. (Trondheim, Norway)

  • Appeared in nine games in 2019-20 before having his rookie season cut short by a hip injury.
  • Averaged 2.9 points per contest while shooting a robust 60 percent (6-of-10) from 3-point land in limited action.
  • Played all kinds of sports as a child. His best three sports were soccer, handball and basketball. There were phases of his life where he wanted to pursue soccer or handball, but eventually figured out that basketball was the most fun sport for him.

#2 Zion Morgan, R-Sr. (Chicago, Ill.)

  • Appeared in 28 games during his first season at Valpo in 2019-20.
  • Joined the program as a junior college transfer after two seasons at Wabash Valley College.
  • Started his collegiate career by playing in 27 games and making five starts at UNLV in 2016-17.
  • Was teammates with Valpo’s Nick Robinson at Kenwood Academy in Chicago.

#3 Steven Helm III, R-So. (Valparaiso, Ind.)

  • Handed out a team-high five assists and scored his first collegiate points in the Dec. 6 victory over Judson.
  • Made his Valpo debut on Dec. 4 at Purdue and recorded a plus-minus of +12 to lead the team.
  • Spent the last two years in Japan serving a mission for his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Started his collegiate career at Carroll College, where he competed in both basketball and track & field.
  • Connected at a 47.1 percent clip from 3-point range and a 94.2 percent clip from the foul line.
  • Qualified for nationals in track & field and helped his basketball team to the national tournament while at Carroll.
  • Transferred to Valpo and sat out the 2017-18 basketball season while competing in track & field that spring.
  • Led his Valparaiso High School team to a 20-7 record as a senior, averaging a team-high 16.1 points/game along with 3.5 assists/game.
  • Mother is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Valpo. Father Steve Jr. was an NAIA Third Team All-American at Montana State University-Northern and went on to play for the American Basketball Association’s Indiana Legends after his collegiate career. Steve Jr. followed his playing days with a coaching career that featured four seasons as an assistant on the Valpo women’s basketball staff.
  • Considers himself a "movie buff" and "Star Wars nerd." Saving Private Ryan and Star Wards Episode 3 are his favorite movies.

#4 Daniel Sackey, Jr. (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

  • Contributed a season-high nine points and six boards on Jan. 16 at DePaul, equaling a career high on the glass with his fourth career six-rebound game and first this season.
  • Finished with his highest assist total since his nine-dime effort on Dec. 18, 2019 by handing out eight helpers on Dec. 9, 2020 vs. SIUE. Also swiped four steals, matching a career high with his second career four-steal effort.
  • Put together a balanced line of six points, five rebounds and six assists in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt - the first time in his collegiate career that he’s had five or more in all three categories in the same game. Also swiped four steals, equaling a career high.
  • Ranked fifth in the MVC and second among sophomores at 3.6 assists per game… Had a team-high 121 assists to go along with 6.3 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game and 35 steals while averaging 25.5 minutes over 34 contests (25 starts) as a sophomore in 2019-20.
  • Made a buzzer-beater to upstage Canadian powerhouse Carleton in overtime in August 2019, making an appearance on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at No. 9 that evening.
  • Has been a drummer since elementary school. The basement of his family’s home in Canada includes a small recording studio. He has a deep passion for music.
  • Became just the sixth Manitoban to earn a scholarship in Division-I men’s basketball since the NCAA reorganized into its current competitive format in 1973.

#5 Donovan Clay, So. (Alton, Ill.)

  • Enjoyed the fourth 20-point game of his career and his second this season with a season-high 21 points on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State.
  • Became the second MVC player with a 13-rebound effort this season on Dec. 19 at Toledo, in the process securing his first career double-double and the first by a Valpo player in 2020-21. He scored a team-high 17 points to complement his effort on the glass.
  • Became the first Missouri Valley Conference player with a five-block game this season on Dec. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest, also becoming the first Valpo player to stuff five shots in a game since Jaume Sorolla on Jan. 26, 2019 vs. Drake.
  • Enjoyed his first 20-point output of the season and the third of his collegiate career to lead the team on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan. That marked his first 20-point effort in a road game at the collegiate level.
  • Led the team in scoring with 12 points on Dec. 1 at UIC.
  • Named to the MVC Preseason Second Team
  • Leading into the season, put a lot of time into his shot, agility and being able to run faster and jump higher.
  • Was one of two Valpo players to compete in all 35 games and made 33 starts during his freshman campaign.
  • Was third on the team in scoring (9.4 ppg) and second in rebounding (4.6 ppg) while leading the team in blocked shots with 36 in 2019-20.
  • Earned a place on the MVC All-Freshman Team in 2019-20.
  • Scored in double figures on 19 occasions including eight outputs of 15+ points and two of 20+ points. He scored in double figures just once over his first seven games and then did so in 18 of the next 28.
  • Is a high-level video game player, following in the footsteps of former Valpo sharp-shooter Ryan Fazekas. Enjoys playing NBA 2K games online all the time. Also enjoys tossing a football or baseball in his spare time.

#10 Eron Gordon, R-Sr. (Indianapolis, Ind.)

  • Led the team in rebounding for the third straight game on Jan. 16 at DePaul, pulling down seven boards to go along with a team-high 12 points. He paced Valpo in scoring for the second straight game after not doing so at all in any of his first 44 career contests.
  • Shared the team lead with a season-high 13 points on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State, pacing the squad in scoring for the first time in his Valpo career.
  • Posted the eighth double figure scoring output of his Valpo career and his first of the season with 10 points on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
  • Made his first start of the season, his fifth overall at Valpo and his first since Jan. 29, 2020 at Bradley in the Dec. 4 game at Purdue.
  • Led the team on the glass for the first time in his Valpo career by squeezing a career-high eight rebounds in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt.
  • Was one of two players on the team who appeared in all 35 games in 2019-20.
  • Made the go-ahead layup with three seconds left in overtime in Valpo’s 74-73 upset win over Loyola in the MVC quarterfinal to help the Brown & Gold complete an 18-point rally. That was the 25th time since the start of the 1992-93 season that Valpo prevailed on a game-winner in the final five seconds.
  • Became the third Valpo player to hit a game-winner in the final five seconds of a conference tournament or postseason game since 1992-93, joining Ryan Broekhoff (2013 vs. Green Bay) and Bryce Drew (1998 vs. Ole Miss).
  • Joined the program in 2018-19 but sat out due to transfer rules. Appeared in 48 games over his two years at Seton Hall.
  • Oldest brother Eric was the seventh pick of the 2008 NBA Draft and has played 11 seasons in the NBA. Father Eric is one of the Top 20 all-time scorers at Liberty. Brother Evan is playing in the CBA after scoring over 1,300 points at the Division-I level at Liberty, Arizona State and Indiana.
  • Enjoys filming and editing videos and podcasting.
  • Enjoys travel and features his destinations on one of his YouTube channels.
  • Future plans include playing professional basketball, pursuing broadcast journalism and contributing to the family business, E3 Basketball Academy.

#11 Emil Freese-Vilien, Fr. (Copenhagen, Denmark)

  • Appeared in 16 games and averaged 6.6 minutes per contest while totaling 16 points, four blocked shots, five assists and 15 rebounds (six offensive boards) during his rookie campaign in 2019-20.
  • Started playing basketball in November 2014 after playing badminton during his younger years.
  • Played for Denmark at both the U16 and U18 FIBA Euro Championships in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
  • Shortly before coming to Valpo, played for Vaerlose in the Danish Basketligaen, the highest professional league in Denmark.
  • Majoring in civil engineering
  • Has been very interested in drawing for many years. Wanted to become an architect for a long time and still has that dream in the back of his mind. Spends a lot of time drawing blueprints and houses.

#12 Tyler Fricke, Fr. (Arlington Heights, Ill.)

  • Made his collegiate debut and scored his first points with a pair of free throws in the Dec. 6 victory over Judson.
  • Joined the Valpo program as a walk-on for the 2020-21 season.
  • Father Scott coached Valpo head coach Matt Lottich at New Trier High School during Lottich’s playing days.
  • Brother Zach pitches for the Valpo baseball team.

#13 Sheldon Edwards, Fr. (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

  • Scored 19 points over the two games vs. Missouri State on Jan. 9-10.
  • Poured in a personal-best 20 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting with eight rebounds on Dec. 9 vs. SIUE.
  • Reached double figures for the first time in his Valpo career with a 10-point showing on Dec. 6 vs. Judson.
  • Became the seventh Valpo freshman in the last 20 years to start the season opener on Nov. 27 at Vanderbilt.
  • Averaged 21.2 points and 7.6 rebounds as a senior at Palm Beach Lakes High School in 2018-19.
  • Spent a postgraduate year at TLAP Sports Academy in Port St. Lucie, Fla. during the 2019-20 season, averaging 32 points per game and five rebounds per contest while turning in two games of 40+ points.
  • Favorite NBA player is Steph Curry, but he models his game after the likes of Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal. When he’s not playing basketball, the Valpo freshman spends much of his free time watching it.

#15 Luke Morrill, So. (Lombard, Ill.)

  • Joined the program as a walk-on prior to the 2019-20 season.
  • Saw action in five games, totaling nine minutes and accruing five points and two rebounds during his first season on campus.
  • Majoring in computer engineering.
  • Considers Valpo teammate Donovan Clay "like a brother" to him after the two were roommates as freshmen and during the spring 2020 COVID-19 quarantine.
  • Enjoys fishing and wakesurfing, which is surfing in the boat’s wake without being directly pulled by the boat.

#20/21 Brock Pappas, Jr. (Valparaiso, Ind.)

  • Made his season debut on Dec. 6 vs. Judson.
  • Nursing major who joined the program as a walk-on in 2018-19.
  • Is a Valparaiso, Ind. native and a graduate of nearby Washington Township.
  • Mother (Lisa) has worked on Valpo’s campus for 32 years, currently serving as an administrative assistant in the Department of Education. Brother (Bryce) and father (Steve) are both Valpo graduates.
  • Is the first boys basketball player in Washington Township High School history to play at the Division-I level.
  • Grew up attending Valpo games and remembers being a young child who looked up to Valpo basketball players.
  • Has always been interested in working with kids. Initially wanted to be a teacher but decided pediatric nursing is the field for him.

#22 Mileek McMillan, Sr. (Merrillville, Ind.) 

  • Drained four 3s on his way to a team-high 18 points on opening night at Vanderbilt on Nov. 27, when he finished two points shy of a career high and equaled a personal best with seven made field goals.
  • Was named to the MVC Most-Improved Team after upping his scoring average from 2.8 points per game as a sophomore to 8.8 points per game as a junior in 2019-20.
  • Started all 34 games that he played as a junior after making just one start and averaging 8.1 minutes per game as a sophomore.
  • Over doubled his rebounding average from the previous season, going from 1.5 to 3.2 in 2019-20. After making 10 3-pointers as a sophomore, he made 40 during his junior campaign and shot 42.3 percent from distance during conference play.
  • Enjoys playing with his dog, roller skating and playing chess... Likes to look at the sky, especially prior to rainfall or during a sunset... Is a big fan of nature and the sound of trains.
  • Twin brother Mahqueese attends Cal State Los Angeles.
  • Was cut from his middle school basketball team in seventh grade, made the "B" team in eighth grade and missed his freshman year of high school with an injury.

#23 Ben Krikke, So. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

  • Shattered his previous season high by halftime with 17 first-half points on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State on his way to a career-high 21. He joined Javon Freeman-Liberty, Tevonn Walker and Alec Peters as the only four Valpo players with 17+ points in a first half during Matt Lottich’s head coaching tenure (fifth season).
  • Posted 16 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting in the Dec. 19 game at Toledo. The eight field goals marked a career high and the 16-point game was two shy of a personal best.
  • Tied a career high with seven rebounds on Dec. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest.
  • Had his fourth double-figure scoring output in the season’s first six games with 12 points to go along with a career-high three blocked shots on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan. He became the first Valpo player with three blocked shots in a game this season.
  • Scored in double figures in each of the first two games of the 2020-21 season (at Vanderbilt, at UIC), the first set of back-to-back double-figure outputs in the sophomore’s collegiate career. His second straight double-figure showing featured 11 points on an efficient 4-of-5 shooting on Dec. 1 at UIC.
  • Made his second career start and first against a Division-I opponent in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt. Finished with 13 points, all in the second half, in a career-high 34 minutes.
  • Leading into the season, spent time working on improving his shooting and hitting shots at a higher rate, especially from 3. Also worked on bulking up and improving his strength, dribbling and ball-handling. Hopes to be versatile enough to play on the perimeter if needed.
  • Appeared in 33 games and made one start during his freshman season… Averaged 6.7 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per contest while blocking 15 shots, coming away with 15 steals, shooting 79.2 percent at the foul line, draining 14 3s and handing out 22 assists… Shot 55.0 percent from the field, finishing fifth in the conference and second among freshmen in field-goal percentage.
  • Hails from Edmonton, a very devout hockey city, but says basketball there is on the upswing.
  • Never played ice hockey, but did compete in badminton, volleyball and various track & field events.
  • Loves to go fishing in the summer. Also enjoys mountain biking and chess, which he learned from his grandfather.

#25 Nick Robinson, R-Sr. (Chicago, Ill.)

  • Did not play Jan. 9-10 vs. Missouri State for personal reasons.
  • Scored a career-high 21 points on Nov. 17 vs. Purdue Northwest while also notching his fourth career three-steal game, shooting at an efficient 7-of-8 clip and drawing seven fouls.
  • Led the team in scoring for the first time in his Valpo career with 15 points on Dec. 4 at Purdue. That marked his highest scoring output since Dec. 30, 2019 vs. Loyola (15) and was four shy of his career high (Nov. 12, 2019 at SIUE). He also squeezed six rebounds to share the team lead.
  • Pulled down a team-high six rebounds on Dec. 1 at UIC, leading the team in rebounding for the fourth time in his collegiate career and first since Dec. 8, 2019 (9 vs. Central Michigan).
  • Played in 25 games and made 19 starts while missing nine games due to a back injury.
  • Joined the program as a transfer in 2018-19 and sat out due to transfer rules after playing two seasons at Saint Joseph’s and appearing in 62 games, starting 30 times.
  • High school teammate of Valpo’s Zion Morgan at Kenwood.
  • Enjoys taking photos of nature in his spare time.
  • Has his own small business that involves buying and selling shoes, is a stock investor and plans to start investing in real estate.

#34 Jacob Ognacevic, Fr. (Sheboygan, Wis.)

  • Shared team high honors with 13 points in just 12 minutes on an efficient 4-of-7 shooting on Jan. 10 vs. Missouri State.
  • Went off for 20 points in the home opener on Dec. 6 vs. Judson. This marks the seventh consecutive year that at least one Valpo player has scored 20+ points in the home opener. He and Connor Barrett became the first freshman tandem to each score 17+ points in the same game in over 20 years.
  • Drained four triples in just 14 minutes of action to achieve double figures for the first time in his collegiate career with 12 on Dec. 4 at Purdue.
  • Made his collegiate debut in the Nov. 27 season opener at Vanderbilt, knocking down a 3 with his only shot attempt of the game to account for his first career points.
  • Named to The Associated Press All-State First Team following his senior season at Sheboygan Lutheran in 2019-20 while also earning Herald Times Player of the Year, All-Big East Conference Player of the Year and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State First-Team status.
  • Was a finalist for Wisconsin Mr. Basketball.
  • Led his team to a 27-2 record and the state championship in Wisconsin Division 5 during his junior season in 2018-19 and was on the way to a repeat before the 2019-20 season was cut short due to COVID-19.
  • Became the 38th player in the history of Wisconsin high school basketball to accumulate 2,000 career points, reaching the milestone on Jan. 23, 2020 with a 54-point game against Ozaukee
  • Shattered the Sheboygan Lutheran scoring record that was previously held by Sam Dekker, who played in the NBA from 2015-2019 with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards…
  • Is a big fan of mixed martial arts and roots for all Boston professional sports teams.

#35 Connor Barrett, Fr. (Chicago, Ill.)

  • Had five steals on Jan. 9 vs. Missouri State, joining the short list of Valpo players with five or more steals in a game during the Matt Lottich Era (fifth season): Javon Freeman-Liberty (3), Lexus Williams (3) and Tevonn Walker (2).
  • Scored 14 points on Dec. 12 at Central Michigan, his second double-figure scoring output in a three-game span. That effort was highlighted at the foul line, where he went 6-for-6.
  • Knocked down five 3s in the home opener vs. Judson on Dec. 6, becoming the first freshman with five treys in a game since 2013-2014 and the first Valpo player to do so in the first four games of his freshman season since 2006-07.
  • Accrued his first collegiate points (3), rebounds (3) and assists (2) on Dec. 1 at UIC. His 3-pointer marked Valpo’s lone made triple of the contest.
  • One of three Valpo freshmen to make his collegiate debut on Nov. 27 at Vanderbilt.
  • Spent a postgraduate year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire during the 2019-20 season.
  • Averaged 11.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game at Loyola Academy as a high school senior during the 2018-19 season while knocking down 64 3-pointers and shooting at a 37.9 percent clip.
  • Led his high school team to back-to-back regional championships and sectional final appearances. Winning roots go back to his middle school days, when his team won three straight championships in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Says winning at a young age helped him mature for the next level.
  • Is an avid golfer whose best score is 73.