Illinois State (10-16, 5-10 MVC)
at Valparaiso (10-16, 4-11 MVC)
Game No. 27 – Saturday, Feb. 11, 6 p.m. CT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will look to complete a season sweep of Illinois State and replicate the success they found last month in Normal, Ill. when the Redbirds make their way to Northwest Indiana for a Saturday night showdown. The first 200 fans will receive a free Valpo mini-cooler. This begins a home-heavy stretch where the team will go over two weeks without a hotel stay – a sequence that features three home games plus a one-day trip to UIC. This is a big game for seeding as Illinois State holds a one-game lead over Valpo for the nine seed at Arch Madness but Valpo could draw even with the Redbirds and secure the tiebreaker with a win on Saturday.
Last Time Out: Valpo shot 60 percent before halftime, but Indiana State was also firing on all cylinders and carried a seven-point lead into the break. The Beacons cooled off in the second half, while the Sycamores kept stroking it to the tune of 17 made 3-pointers on their way to an 84-62 win. Ben Krikke finished with a team-high 22 points, 16 of which came over the first 20 minutes. Kobe King scored in double figures for the 26th consecutive game, registering 11 points.
Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN3 – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Jamie Stangel (analyst)
Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App – Noah Godsell (play-by-play) and Soren Burkholder (analyst)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich (107-112) 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: Since Valpo joined the Missouri Valley Conference, there’s no team against whom the Brown & Gold has enjoyed more success than Illinois State. Valpo is 9-2 against the Redbirds since joining The Valley and holds a 13-9 overall edge in an all-time series that started in 1939-40. Valpo has won nine of the last 10 dates including a 20-point road blowout earlier this season. The two teams split last year’s matchups with both games going to overtime.
Jan. 21 – Valpo 71, Illinois State 51: Valpo earned its most lopsided Missouri Valley Conference regular-season victory since joining the league on Jan. 21 in Normal, Ill., blitzing Illinois State 71-51 behind a season-high 26 points from Quinton Green, who nailed a career-high six 3-pointers. The shooting numbers told the tale as Valpo hit at a 57.4 percent clip from the field while holding Illinois State to 33.9 percent. The best Beacon work came from long range, where the team shot 56.3 percent.
Remembering Redmon: At halftime, a video tribute will honor David Redmon ‘95, a hometown product who helped lay the foundation for the legacy of success of the Valpo men’s basketball program. Redmon, a 2004 Valpo Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, passed away on Jan. 15 at the age of 50 in Columbus, Ohio. In Redmon’s three years with the program, Valpo won 52 games after winning just 14 total the previous three seasons. He helped the program to its first 20-win season in nearly three decades, followed by another 20-win campaign and the program’s first Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament championships in 1994-95. Redmon’s friends, family members and former teammates will be attendance at Saturday’s game following Saturday afternoon’s memorial service in Valpo.
Krikke in the Record Book
- On the day and night where David Redmon will be remembered, Valpo forward Ben Krikke is in position to surpass Redmon on the program’s all-time scoring list. Krikke enters Saturday’s game vs. Illinois State with 1,459 career points. He is 11 points away from tying and 12 from passing Redmon for 11th in program history.
- As Krikke continues to author his Valpo legacy, he is approaching the program’s all-time top 10. He is 41 points away from becoming the 11th player in program history to score 1,500 career points and 49 away from joining the program’s all-time top 10.
- Krikke has moved up four spots on Valpo’s all-time scoring list over the last two games, leapfrogging two alums each on Feb. 1 at Missouri State and Feb. 4 vs. Drake.
- He passed Jeff Simmons (1978-82; 1,395), Tevonn Walker (2014-2018; 1,405), John Wolfenberg (1970-73, 1,430) and Jim Ford (1985-89, 1,436) in those games.
- Krikke is also only 15 points away from a 500-point season, which would be the team’s second 500-point scorer in a single season during the Missouri Valley Conference Era, joining Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 628 during the 2019-20 campaign. Only four players had 500-point seasons during Valpo’s Horizon League tenure – Alec Peters (3x), LaVonte Dority, Ryan Broekhoff (twice) and Brandon Wood (twice).
- The threshold to reach the program’s single-season top 10 is 573.
- Krikke has 192 made field goals on the season, eight away from becoming just the eighth different Valpo player to achieve that feat in the last 30 years. He would join Javon Freeman-Liberty, Alec Peters (twice), Brandon Wood, Dan Oppland (twice), Bryce Drew, Anthony Allison and Tracy Gipson.
- He needs to get to 217 made field goals to join the program’s single-season top 10 in that area.
- Krikke has 580 career made field goals, a mark that ranks eighth in program history. He has recently passed Bruce Lindner (575, 1967-70), Lubos Barton (566, 1998-02) and Dick Jones (565, 1965-68). His next target on that list is Raitis Grafs, who ranks seventh at 592.
More Ben Bits
- Ben Krikke has reached double figures in 24 of his 26 games this season including nine outputs of 20 points or more.
- Krikke has scored 15+ points in 21 out of 26 contests.
- Krikke has tallied double figures in 14 consecutive games and all 15 league contests this season.
- Krikke has scored 19 points or more in five consecutive games and is averaging 24.0 points per game during that stretch.
- Last season, 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.
Krikke in Select Company
- Ben Krikke is one of four players in the country who is averaging at least 18.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting better than 75 percent from the free-throw line and better than 50 percent from the field.
- He joins Chattanooga’s Jake Stephens, Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis, and Iowa’s Kris Murray.
- Krikke is on pace to become just the third different Missouri Valley Conference player since 2005 to average at least 17 points and five boards while shooting better than 75 percent from the free-throw line and 50 percent from the field. He would join Missouri State’s Isiaih Mosley and Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who did so twice each.
- Krikke and Drake’s Tucker DeVries are the only players in The Valley averaging 18.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. In fact, the only MVC players in the last 20 years to achieve that feat are Creighton’s Doug McDermott (twice), Valpo’s Javon Freeman-Liberty and Missouri State’s Isiaih Mosley.
Double Figure Streak
- The only player in the Missouri Valley Conference who has scored in double figures in each of his team’s games this season is Kobe King, who has scored 10+ in 26 straight.
- King has entered the list of longest double-figure scoring streaks in Valpo history. He has tied Ryan Broekhoff’s 26-game double-figure streak from the 2012-13 campaign. There have been two longer streaks since.
- Javon Freeman-Liberty scored in double figures in all 29 regular season games that he played during the 2019-20 season before seeing his streak snapped in the first MVC Tournament game. Alec Peters scored in double figures in all 29 games he played in 2016-17 before seeing his season cut short by an injury.
- Freeman-Liberty and Peters currently share the program record for consecutive double-figure scoring outputs within the same season.
- King has scored in double figures in 45 of his 49 games in a Valpo uniform.
- The former Wisconsin Mr. Basketball has scored 15 points or more in 15 of his 26 games this season. He has seven 20-point outputs this year and has scored 15 or more points in 25 of his 49 games with the Beacons.
- King is up to 50 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.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Feb. 8: Indiana State 84, Valpo 62
- After shattering a Missouri Valley Conference record for made 3-pointers in a league game with 19 in its previous contest vs. Murray State, Indiana State went off for 17 in the game against the Beacons.
- Indiana State’s 17 made 3s were the most by a Valpo opponent since Belmont drained 19 triples on Jan. 10, 2000.
- The 40 3-point attempts by the Sycamores were the most by a Valpo opponent in program history. Previously, it was 39 by Troy State on Feb. 20, 1995.
- Freshman Maximus Nelson pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with eight points. The rookie’s performance on the glass outdid his previous personal best of seven set on Jan. 28 vs. Evansville.
- Ben Krikke (26) led the team in scoring for the fifth straight game and the 14th time this year. Either Krikke or King has paced the Beacons in 22 of the team’s 26 games.
Scouting the Redbirds
- Picked to finish 10th of 12 in the MVC preseason poll.
- Valpo is 4-0 this season against teams picked behind the Beacons in the preseason projections.
- Under the direction of first-year head coach Ryan Pedon.
- Coming off a 79-61 loss to Bradley on Wednesday after falling 90-75 at Belmont on Saturday.
- Led in scoring by Darius Burford at 11.8 points per game.
- Valpo point guard Nick Edwards leads the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 19th nationally with 131 total assists.
- He is 14 assists away from cracking the program’s single-season top 10. Bryce Drew’s 1996-97 output of 145 currently ranks 10th.
- Edwards is averaging 7.8 points per game and 5.0 assists per game. Just two Valpo players in the last 30 years have finished a season with 7.5 ppg and 5.0 apg – Ali Berdiel (2003-04) and Bryce Drew (three times, 1994-1998).
- If Edwards stays on his current pace, he would post Valpo’s highest apg number since Berdiel’s 6.0 in 2003-2004.
Among Conference & National Leaders
- Valpo has two of the top three players in the MVC in terms of field goals made and two of the top 46 nationally. Ben Krikke leads the conference and ranks seventh in the nation with 192 made field goals, while Kobe King ranks fourth in the conference and 46th nationally with 159.
- Valpo is one of two teams in the country with two players in the top 46 nationally in terms of field goals made, joining Marshall.
- Krikke and King also represent two of the league’s top seven players in terms of scoring average. Krikke’s 18.7 points per game rank third in The Valley with King not far behind at 16.3 ppg, seventh.
- Valpo is the only team in the conference with two players who rank in the top 10 in the league in scoring average.
- Ben Krikke, Kobe King and Quinton Green have been fixtures in the starting lineup this season as all three have started each of the first 26 games.
- The other two spots rotated some earlier in the season, but Valpo seems to have found a consistent starting five with Maximus Nelson (17 starts) serving as Krikke’s front court mate.
- Nick Edwards (18 total starts) has started 15 straight games at point guard.
- Valpo has featured the same starting five in 11 straight games.
Bonus Basketball Beacon Bits
- The 85-82 double overtime loss to Drake on Feb. 4 marked the team’s fourth overtime game of the season as Valpo dropped to 1-3 in overtime contests and 0-3 in such games within league play.
- Valpo played overtime in back-to-back games, something that also occurred last season, when the game vs. Indiana State went to double OT followed by an OT affair at Illinois State. Prior to last season, Valpo had not played back-to-back overtime games since 1993 (Feb. 6 at UIC, Feb. 8 vs. Green Bay).
- Valpo has played 10 overtime games in the last two seasons and owns a 4-6 mark. During the Matt Lottich Era, the team is 8-10 when bonus basketball in needed.
- Valpo is tied for the most overtime games in the nation over the last two seasons. The two teams that Valpo is tied with are also Missouri Valley Conference members – Drake and Illinois State.
- Five times during Lottich’s leadership Valpo has gone to double overtime with the Beacons now owning a 2-3 record in those games.
- The Drake game was Valpo’s first double OT affair this season after having two a year ago – Jan. 11 at Loyola and Feb. 5 vs. Indiana State.
- This is the first time in program history that Valpo has had consecutive games result in overtime losses.
- The 76-67 loss at Missouri State on Feb. 1 was Valpo’s largest margin of defeat in a game that went to overtime since Jan. 2, 2015, an 89-75 setback at Oakland.
Oh So Close
- On four occasions in Missouri Valley Conference play, Valpo has come extraordinarily close to pulling out a victory before going on to drop the contest. The Beacons are 4-10 in Valley action, but could easily have that record rearranged at 8-6.
- First came a 77-70 overtime loss to Murray State on Dec. 4 where Valpo held a five-point lead with 5:21 left in regulation and a four-point edge with 3:03 left in overtime.
- The next close call was on Jan. 4, when UNI won 69-67 on a tip-in buzzer-beater.
- The Feb. 1 game at Missouri State saw Valpo lead by seven with just over three minutes remaining and by five with 1:21 on the clock before falling in overtime.
- The Feb. 4 game vs. MVC preseason favorite Drake saw Valpo lead by as many as 10 and own the advantage for 42 minutes, 30 seconds, but Drake created the first tie since 0-0 with 25 seconds left in regulation and eventually won 85-82 in double overtime.
- Conversely, all four of Valpo’s wins have come by seven points or more and the Beacons own an average margin of victory of 12.3 points per game in those wins.
The Rookie Has Range
- Maximus Nelson canned six 3-pointers in the Feb. 4 game vs. Drake en route to a career-high 18 points. That nearly doubled his previous peak of 10 that came on Jan. 4 vs. UNI.
- Nelson became the second Valpo player to hit six 3s in a game this season. Prior to Quinton Green’s six triples on Jan. 21 at Illinois State, no Beacon had done it since Mileek McMillan in February 2020.
- Nelson became the first Valpo player to make half a dozen 3s in a game at the ARC since Alec Peters on Dec. 22, 2016 vs. Santa Clara. Before that, it was Ryan Broekhoff on Feb. 5, 2013 vs. UIC. Strangely enough, prior to Nelson, the last six instances of Valpo players hitting six 3s and 11 of the last 12 had come on the road.
- Nelson became the first Valpo freshman to hit six 3s in a game since Peters on Nov. 20, 2013 at Evansville.
- Two of the last three times that Drake has allowed an opponent to knock down six 3s, it’s been a Valpo player. Prior to Nelson, the last player to hit six 3s against the Bulldogs was St. Thomas’ Riley Miller on Dec. 5, 2021, and before that it was Valpo’s Mileek McMillan on Feb. 19, 2020.
- Nelson became just the second freshman in the conference to make six 3s in a Missouri Valley Conference game this season, joining UNI’s Trey Campbell.
Other Notes Wrapping Up Feb. 4: Drake 85, Valpo 82
- Ben Krikke’s 27 points came thanks in part to a career-high 11 made free throws. He became the first Valpo player with 11 made free throws in a game since Bakari Evelyn on Nov. 25, 2017 vs. UNC Wilmington.
- Krikke knocked down 11 of his 12 free-throw attempts, helping the team shoot 90.9 percent (20-of-22) at the free-throw line.
- This marked the third time this season Valpo made 20 or more free throws (23 vs. UIC, 20 vs. Incarnate Word) and represented the team’s highest percentage in a game with 20 or more makes.
- Valpo made a season-high 12 3-pointers, the team’s highest total in that area since Dec. 22, 2021 vs. William & Mary (12) and most in a conference game since Feb. 6, 2021, also vs. Drake (12).
- The bulk of the 3-point damage came courtesy of Maximus Nelson, who was 6-of-9 (66.7 percent) while the rest of the team went 6-for-25 (24 percent).
- Valpo and Drake had the exact same shooting percentage for the game with both teams going 25-of-65 (38.5 percent). This was just the third time in the last decade that Valpo has shared an identical shooting performance with its opponent. The last time was Feb. 2, 2019, a 64-53 loss at Evansville, and before that it was Feb. 3, 2018, a 65-59 loss at Southern Illinois.
- Valpo was called for 18 fouls in the second half and overtime, while Drake was whistled for seven over those 30 minutes. Free throw attempts were a difference maker in the extra session as Drake had 10 to Valpo’s two during the 10 minutes of bonus basketball.
- Drake’s Tucker DeVries scored a game-high 32 points to go along with 11 rebounds, while Roman Penn had a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards.
- Three Beacons scored in double figures – Ben Krikke (27), Maximus Nelson (18) and Kobe King (13).
- The attendance was a season-high 3,137.
- This marked the first time Valpo coughed up a double-figure lead since Feb. 9 of last season at Illinois State.
- This snapped a 24-game winning streak in games where Valpo scored 80+ points. The team’s last loss while scoring 80 or more came on Feb. 13, 2019, an 87-82 overtime setback vs. Indiana State. Valpo fell to 45-3 during the Matt Lottich Era when scoring 80 points or more (all three losses were games that went to overtime).
Lottich Leaps J.M. Christiansen
- Valpo head coach Matt Lottich moved into sole possession of third in program history when he garnered his 103rd career victory on Dec. 21 vs. Stonehill. That triumph helped him snap a tie with J.M. Christiansen (1929-1941) for third all-time.
- Lottich reached the 100-win milestone with an 81-79 overtime victory over James Madison on Nov. 27 in Savannah, Ga.
- The former Stanford sharpshooter 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 now trailing only the Drews on the program’s all-time wins list.
Name Years Wins
Homer Drew 1988-2002; 2003-2011 371
Bryce Drew 2011-2016 124
Matt Lottich 2017-pres. 107
J.M. Christiansen 1929-1941 102
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.
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.