Western Illinois (2-2, 0-0 OVC)
at Valparaiso (2-2, 0-0 MVC)
Game No. 5 – Tuesday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m. CT
Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) – Valparaiso, Ind.
Next Up in Valpo Basketball: The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team will return home to continue a stretch of playing six of their first seven within the confines of the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo will clash with Western Illinois on Tuesday in the first of three straight at home including two this week sandwiched around the Thanksgiving holiday. The matchup with the Leathernecks, in their first season of Ohio Valley Conference membership, continues a trend of Valpo facing old conference foes this season as the two teams shared league affiliation from 1982-2007.
Last Time Out: Valpo gave No. 23 Illinois a scare on Friday night in Champaign, holding a 45-38 halftime lead in hopes of the program’s first-ever true road win over a nationally-ranked opponent. The Illini flipped the script over the game’s final 20 minutes, outscoring the Beacons 49-19 to win 87-64 at the State Farm Center. Isaiah Stafford put together a brilliant first half en route to 30 points for the game while Jerome Palm posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds and Jaxon Edwards gobbled up 15 boards.
Following the Beacons: Streaming – ESPN+ – Todd Ickow (play-by-play) and Jamie Stangel (analyst)
Radio – 95.1 FM, WVUR, ValpoAthletics.com, TuneIn Radio App – Brian Jennings (play-by-play)
Twitter updates - @ValpoBasketball
Links for video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Roger Powell Jr.: Roger Powell Jr. (2-2) is in his first season as the head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program. After helping guide Gonzaga to a 121-13 record during his four seasons as an assistant coach, Powell returned to Valpo, where he was part of head coach Bryce Drew’s staff from 2011-2016 and led the team to 124 wins in five seasons, including a program-record 30 victories and a National Invitation Tournament (NIT) title game appearance in 2015-16. He was part of head coach Mark Few’s Gonzaga staff as the Bulldogs reached the 2021 national championship game after winning their first 31 games of the season. During Powell’s first season on staff in 2019-20, Gonzaga was 31-2 at the time the NCAA college basketball season was halted due to COVID-19. The Bulldogs reached the Sweet Sixteen in each of his final three seasons on staff, including two Elite Eight appearances and the aforementioned trip to the 2021 national title game. Prior to his arrival at Gonzaga, Powell served as the associate head coach at Vanderbilt University under Bryce Drew from 2016-2019. During his stint as an assistant at Valpo, he was part of four Horizon League regular-season championships in a five-year period while also leading the 2012-13 and 2014-15 squads to Horizon League tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. A product of Joliet West High School and a native of Joliet, Ill., Powell capped a prolific collegiate playing career at Illinois with a national title game appearance in 2005 before going on to a successful professional playing career.
Series Notes: Valpo and Western Illinois will lock horns for the first time since Valpo left the Mid-Continent Conference, now known as the Summit League, after the 2006-07 season. The Beacons own a 34-23 edge in the all-time series including an 80-56 win on Feb. 15, 2007 at the ARC in the most recent faceoff. Valpo possesses a four-game winning streak over the Leathernecks and has won seven straight home games against them dating back to Jan. 22, 2000. Valpo is 14-1 in the last 15 matchups between these two teams.
“I” Stands for Isaiah
- As Paul Oren of “The Victory Bell” put it, the “I” on the center of the court in Champaign stood for Isaiah – as in Valpo’s Isaiah Stafford – rather than Illinois on Nov. 17 as the Beacons clashed with the No. 23 Fighting Illini.
- Stafford scored 30 points on 11-of-23 shooting, 3-of-8 from 3 and 5-of-7 at the free-throw line. He finished one point shy of a career high that was set on Feb. 26, 2022 while playing for Southern Indiana vs. Lindenwood.
- This was the most points scored by a Beacon since Ben Krikke tallied 34 at UIC on Feb. 19 of last season.
- Stafford joined Krikke (3x), Javon Freeman-Liberty (twice), Bakari Evelyn, Alec Peters (10x) and Lavone Dority (twice) as the only Valpo players in the last decade with a 30-point performance.
- Stafford had the most points scored by a non-power conference opponent against Illinois since Ohio’s Jason Preston in 2020.
- The bulk of Stafford’s damage came before the break as he had 23 first-half points. This marked the highest scoring half by a Beacon since Javon Freeman-Liberty had 23 on March 7, 2020 vs. Missouri State in the MVC semifinals. However, that included points scored in overtime so Freeman-Liberty’s total came in 25 minutes rather than 20.
- The last time a Valpo player scored more than 23 in a half was Alec Peters on Dec. 22, 2016, but that included double overtime.
- Stafford had Valpo’s biggest first half and biggest half that did not include OT by a Valpo player since Peters scored 23 in the opening half on Dec. 17, 2016 vs. Indiana State.
Hats Off for Half 1
- Valpo led for the entirety of a brilliant first half and held a 45-38 advantage at No. 23 Illinois at the break after owning a cushion as big as 10.
- The program was hoping to record its fifth all-time victory against a nationally-ranked opponent and its first true road win against an AP Top-25 foe. The Brown & Gold fell to 0-44 all-time on the road against nationally-ranked opponents, with three of the program’s four ranked wins coming at home and one on a neutral floor.
- Each of the last two road games against Top-25 teams and three of the last six have seen Valpo own the halftime lead. In addition to the Nov. 17 game at No. 23 Illinois, Valpo led No. 22 Loyola 29-26 at the break on Feb. 17, 2021 and held a 35-33 edge at No. 25 Oregon midway through the Nov. 22, 2015 matchup.
- Valpo was also seeking its first power-conference win since 2016 vs. Alabama and was hoping to snap a 15-game skid against Big Ten Conference competition that dates back to Dec. 28, 2004 vs. Penn State.
- Valpo leads the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 10th nationally at 7.0 blocked shots per game. With 12 blocked shots, Jaxon Edwards leads the MVC and ranks sixth nationally.
- Valpo has blocked six or more shots in every game this season, most recently sending away seven on Nov. 17, 2023 at No. 23 Illinois. The team has at least six blocks in five straight games including the final game of last season vs. Murray State.
- Valpo has four games with six or more blocked shots this season after having two total last year. This is already the most games Valpo has had with more than five blocks in a single season since 2019-20 (four).
- Valpo rejected nine shots on Nov. 14 vs. Green Bay, the program’s highest blocked shot total since Dec. 30, 2019 vs. Loyola, also nine.
- The last time the Brown & Gold recorded more than nine blocks in a game was March 15, 2016 vs. Texas Southern in the first round of the NIT (10).
- Jaxon Edwards and Ola Ajiboye had four swats each against the Phoenix. This was the first time in over a decade that a pair of Valpo players had four blocks each in the same game.
- The program record for blocked shots in a game is 12 on Jan. 21, 1998 vs. Northern Illinois.
- This was only the fourth time nationally this season that two teammates each rejected four or more shots in the same game – Arkansas (at Gardner Webb), UAB (vs. Maryland) and Seattle (vs. Prairie View) are the others.
Protecting What’s Yours
- Valpo valued the basketball in a big way over the last two games, committing just five turnovers in the Nov. 14 win over Green Bay before having only seven on Nov. 17 at No. 23 Illinois.
- Valpo became just the 10th team in the nation this year to have only seven turnovers or fewer against a Top-25 opponent.
- The Beacons rank second in the Missouri Valley Conference in turnover margin (+4.8), turnovers forced per game (14.75) and turnovers committed per game (10.0).
- This is the first time Valpo has enjoyed back-to-back games with seven or fewer turnovers since 2014-15 – Jan. 4 vs. Youngstown State and Jan. 8 vs. UIC.
- The five vs. Green Bay marked the fewest turnovers committed by the Beacons since Feb. 21, 2021 at Southern Illinois (also five).
- The last time Valpo gave it away fewer than five times in a contest was Nov. 28, 2014 vs. Drake (four).
- Point guard Darius DeAveiro tallied five assists against no turnovers in the win over the Phoenix.
- Valpo became the first team in the country this season with nine or more blocks and five or fewer turnovers in the same game. That combination was achieved by only seven teams in the nation during the 2022-2023 season.
Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 17: No. 23 Illinois 87, Valpo 64
- Jaxon Edwards pulled down 15 rebounds, the most by a Valpo player since Ben Krikke on Jan. 24, 2021 at Illinois State. Edwards tied with Krikke and Javon Freeman-Liberty for the most rebounds by a Valpo player since Alec Peters had 16 on Jan. 16, 2017.
- Jerome Palm posted a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, establishing a new personal best in the scoring column. His previous career high was 11 set last season at Belmont and matched this year vs. Trinity Christian. This was Valpo’s first double-double since Krikke at UIC on Feb. 19 of last season.
- Valpo shot a respectable 42.9 percent including 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from 3 in the first half, but cooled off to 20 percent (9-of-45) and 0-of-8 from 3 after halftime.
- Valpo had 80 field-goal attempts in the game, becoming just the fifth Division-I team with 80 or more shots in a game against a Division-I opponent this season. The 80 field goal attempts were the most in a single game by Valpo since at least 2010 and the most against Illinois since Rutgers had 85 on Feb. 3, 2016, a game that went to triple overtime. It was the most shot attempts against the Illini since at least 2010.
Scouting the Leathernecks
- Picked to finish eighth of 11 in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll.
- Competing in their first year of OVC activity after holding Summit League (previously known as the AMCU and the Mid-Con) affiliation from 1982-2023.
- Under the direction of first-year head coach Chad Boudreau, who spent the last three seasons on staff as associate head coach.
- Posted a winning record last season at 16-14 including a 9-9 conference mark in the program’s final season of Summit League games.
- Started this season with road losses at UTSA (78-68) and SMU (90-53) before home wins over St. Ambrose (94-59) and Southern (88-80).
Other Notes Wrapping Up Nov. 14: Valpo 64, Green Bay 59
- Jaxon Edwards paced the team in scoring with a career-high 19, while Isaiah Stafford turned in 18. Edwards became the third Valpo player in the last five years with 19 or more points and four or more blocked shots in a game, joining Ben Krikke (Feb. 14, 2023 vs. Southern Illinois) and Derrick Smits (Nov. 24, 2018 at West Virginia).
- Ola Ajiboye led the team on the glass with nine rebounds. Edwards and Jerome Palm squeezed eight apiece.
- The 3-point line proved to be a frozen tundra for the Phoenix, who went just 2-of-18 (11.1 percent) from long range. This was Valpo’s best 3-point defense since Dec. 18, 2022 vs. Elon (3-of-27, also 11.1 percent).
- This marked the first game between the two teams since Valpo left the Horizon League following the 2016-2017 campaign. The squads have a long history against one another including Valpo victories at the ARC in the 2015 Horizon League title game and the 2013 Horizon League Semifinal (The Ryan Broekhoff Game).
- Valpo extended its head-to-head home winning streak against Green Bay to nine.
The Game’s Biggest Stage
- Valpo head coach Roger Powell Jr. owns the unique distinction of having played and coached in the national championship game.
- Just 12 coaches in the last 25 years have coached in the national title game after previously playing in the national title game, and two others have coached in the national championship game after being a rostered player but not seeing action in the national title game as a student-athlete.
- In the last quarter of a century, only two coaches have coached in the national title game after previously playing in the national title game at a different school – Roger Powell Jr. and Kenny Payne.
Name Year, Team as Player Year, Team as Coach
Sean May 2005, UNC 2022, UNC
Roger Powell Jr. 2005, Illinois 2021, Gonzaga
Jeff Capel 1994, Duke 2015, Duke
Nate James 1999 & 2001, Duke 2015, Duke
Jon Scheyer 2010, Duke 2015, Duke
Ricky Moore 1999, UConn 2014, UConn
Kenny Payne 1986, Louisville 2014, Kentucky
Danny Manning 1988, Kansas 2008 & 2012, Kansas
Chris Collins 1994, Duke 2010, Duke
Jim Thomas 1981, Indiana 2002, Indiana
Johnny Dawkins 1986, Duke 2001, Duke
David Henderson 1986, Duke 1999, Duke
Quin Snyder 1986, Duke 1999, Duke - DNP
Jeremy Case 2008, Kansas 2022, Kansas - DNP
“The Rev” in the Community
- Since head coach Roger Powell Jr. was hired to lead Valpo’s program, he has made numerous community engagement appearances including IBCA State Wide Clinic, Popcorn Fest, Valpo Kiwanis, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, Big Shoulders NWI, the Valpo Athletics Coaches Tour and many more.
- An engaging speaker with an active social media presence, Powell has launched a video series featuring local restaurants called “Powell Party of Six,” showcasing the Powell family meals in the community. Episode 1 featuring Burgerhaus was released prior to the season with more editions to come.
- Nicknamed “The Rev” because of his strong faith and calling as a preacher, Powell’s hire as Valpo head coach made an immediate media splash. The news was featured prominently in the Chicago Sun-Times, on CBS 2 Chicago’s 4 p.m. news and WGN-TV’s GN Sports. He appeared on the Mully & Haugh morning show on 670 The Score in Chicago and Indiana Sports Talk with Bob Lovell out of Indianapolis.
What They’re Saying About Coach Powell
- Bryce Drew, Valpo Legend, Former Valpo Head Coach, GCU Head Coach: “I am very excited for Roger to be a head coach. He is more than ready to lead his own program, so this is perfect timing for him. I will be cheering for Roger and the Beacons!”
- Homer Drew, Legendary Valpo Head Coach: “We’re really happy and thrilled to see Roger return to Valparaiso University. His love for the University and the community of Valparaiso makes him a great fit. Roger is an excellent teacher; he has tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball. He has been part of the Drew family since he arrived on campus and was an assistant coach for Bryce. He is a dedicated and hard recruiter, and being from the Chicago area, he has a lot of friends and contacts in that area.”
- Mark Few, Gonzaga Head Coach: “Roger has been a very instrumental part of our program these past four years. He is the total package as a coach, and one of the best human beings I have ever been around. He will not only be a great addition to the University, but a positive force in the surrounding community. We look forward to watching his teams grow not only on the floor, but also in their life away from basketball.”
- Chris Standiford, Gonzaga Athletic Director: “I am happy for Roger and his family. His positive energy and winning attitude will serve him well as a head coach. Valpo is getting a great coach, and more importantly, a terrific person.”
- Scott Drew, Baylor Head Coach: “Roger is not only an outstanding basketball coach, but an even better person and representative of Valparaiso University. The community will welcome him as they already know him and his family. He will do a tremendous job.”
- Tommy Lloyd, Arizona Head Coach: “Roger Powell is a first-class individual. He is well liked by the players he coaches and his colleagues in the business. I have no doubt that Roger’s passion, energy and fire will help bring back the glory days of Valpo Basketball!”
- Alec Peters, Valpo’s All-Time Leading Scorer: “The amount of love and passion that Coach Powell is going to put into the program is going to be unmatched. His energy, competitiveness and character are going to show up every day and everyone will feel it.”
Inside the Assistants
- Valpo’s staff features two coaches who have played in the national title game – Powell and A.J. Moye. Powell has also coached in the national title game.
- Powell, Moye and Matt Gordon have all either coached or played in the Final Four.
- Powell, Moye, Gordon, Pat Baldwin and Lubos Barton have all either coached or played in the NCAA Tournament.
- Assistant coach Pat Baldwin brings head coaching experience to the staff as he spent five seasons at the helm at Milwaukee before serving as an assistant coach under Patrick Ewing at Georgetown during the 2022-23 season. He also worked under Chris Collins as an assistant during a successful run at Northwestern, so he has recent stops in the Big Ten and Big East to go along with head coaching experience.
- Assistant coach Matt Gordon spent the last two years in the Big 12 Conference at Oklahoma as Director of Recruiting and Special Assistant to head coach Porter Moser. He joined Moser in Norman, Okla. after they previously worked together for a decade at Loyola. Gordon knows what it takes to win in the Missouri Valley Conference as he played a key role in a turnaround that saw the Ramblers post a 156-80 (.661) record during his seven seasons as an assistant coach. He helped the team to two Sweet Sixteen appearances in a four-year period including a historic run to the Final Four.
- Assistant coach J. Moye was a standout during his playing days at Indiana, where he took the Hoosiers to the 2002 national title game before beginning a professional playing career. He trained professional and collegiate players from 2011-2023 as part of Rising Talent Development (Mamba Sports Academy), serving as the Master Basketball Trainer for Kobe Bryant’s academy. Moye played against Powell in the Big Ten and they later finished out their playing careers as teammates with Skyliners Frankfurt in Germany in 2010-11.
- Director of Recruiting & Player Development Lubos Barton returns to Valpo over two decades after wrapping up his storied career donning the brown and gold. After retiring from his professional playing career, Barton stayed in the game of basketball by beginning his coaching career overseas in 2016. A member of the Valpo Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Barton was a standout on the court from 1998-2002, leading the team to three Mid-Continent Conference regular-season titles, three conference tournament championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances.
- Special Assistant to the Head Coach Quintin Garrison served as the associate head coach at Trinity International University from 2018-2023.
- Video coordinator / Director of Basketball Operations Sean Taylor served as SIUE’s graduate assistant/video coordinator from August 2021 to May 2023.
- Associate Director of Sports Performance Vijay Blackmon is in his second season as the strength & conditioning coach for Valpo men’s basketball. He previously worked with strength & conditioning as part of Bryce Drew’s Grand Canyon program.
Inside the Roster
- The 2023-24 roster features four returning letterwinners and 11 newcomers. The team lost 11 letterwinners from last season including all five starters.
- This marks the first time since the 2013-14 season that Valpo has no starters returning from the previous season. The 2012-13 NCAA Tournament team started all seniors – Ryan Broekhoff, Kevin Van Wijk, Erik Buggs, Will Bogan and Ben Boggs. The 2013-14 season featured a five-member freshmen class led by Alec Peters.
- Prior to this season, Valpo had at least two returning starters in nine consecutive years.
- The 12 scholarship players on the roster include three returners, five true freshmen and four transfers. Valpo also has three walk-ons – one returner, one former Valpo football player and one transfer.
- The 12 scholarship players are comprised of two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and six freshmen (five true; one redshirt).
- The half dozen freshmen represent the team’s most since 2008-09, when the team also had six on the roster – De’Andre Haskins, Cameron Witt, Nick Shelton, Andrew Ferry, Erik Buggs and Logan Jones.
- This year’s roster features players from five different countries – The Netherlands, Canada, Estonia, South Sudan and the United States. In addition, six states are represented – Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and Kansas.
- Junior guard Darius DeAveiro ranked 14th in the Missouri Valley Conference in assists per game last season. He ranked fifth in the league in assist to turnover ratio at 1.89. During his rookie year in 2021-22, he finished the season as one of two freshmen nationally with 50 or more assists and fewer than 25 turnovers. He was named a captain by head coach Roger Powell Jr. prior to the season.
- Senior guard/forward Connor Barrett is the team’s leading returning scorer and the longest-tenured member of the program. Now in his fourth season at Valpo, Barrett saw action in 31 of the team’s 32 games a year ago and scored a season-high 13 points including three made 3s on Dec. 18 vs. Elon.
- Senior forward Jerome Palm was named a captain by head coach Roger Powell Jr. prior to the season. He joined Valpo last year after a pair of junior college seasons. He had a season-high 11 points to go along with nine rebounds on Dec. 1 at Belmont.
- Sophomore guard Jaxon Edwards has experience in the Missouri Valley Conference after playing in 11 games during the 2022-23 season as a freshman at Murray State. He led Cathedral to the 2021-22 Indiana 4A state championship in high school.
- Freshman guard Sherman Weatherspoon IV played at Golden State Prep in Napa Valley, Calif. in 2022-23, averaging 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
- Sophomore forward Ola Ajiobye played in 30 of 31 games with 14 starts at Central Michigan as a true freshman in 2022-23.
- Freshman guard Jahari Williamson played for Canada’s U19 World Cup Team in Summer 2023 after participating in the U18 2022 Canada Games for Team Ontario.
- Freshman forward Lucas Scroggins spent the 2022-23 season at Bosco Institute in Crown Point.
- Freshman forward Cooper Schwieger averaged 11.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists at Link Year Prep in Branson, Mo. last season.
- Junior guard Isaiah Stafford averaged 12.5 points per game to help John A. Logan to the junior college national title and a 33-2 mark in 2022-23 after spending his freshman season at Southern Indiana in 2021-22.
- Freshman forward Kaspar Sepp played for the Estonian national team during the 2023 summer after helping Estonia beat Finland to earn a promotion to the “A” division during the 2022 summer.
- Redshirt freshman Lual Manyang received a medical redshirt in 2022-23 due to a preseason injury at Hofstra.
The Dot Farewell Tour
- Longtime Valpo men’s basketball official scorekeeper Dot Nuechterlein has announced that she will retire from her duties at the scorer’s table following the 2023-24 season.
- Nuechterlein, age 86, began as the official scorer at Valpo in 1984. Her four-decade long tenure as the holder of an official scorebook featured two seasons doing so at Columbia while she lived in New York City during a brief hiatus from Valpo.
- According to Nuechterlein, she was the first female to serve as full-time official scorer for a Division-I men’s college basketball team when she took over the post at Valpo in 1984.
Random facts on each Valpo player.
- #0 Jaxon Edwards – Played football up until high school but stopped after eighth grade when he injured his hand.
- #1 Jerome Palm – Started playing basketball at age 15.
- #2 Connor Barrett – Is an avid golfer.
- #3 Anthony Sciarroni – Spent three years on the Valpo football team before joining the men’s basketball program as a walk-on.
- #4 Sherman Weatherspoon IV – Father Sherman Weatherspoon III is a Northwest Indiana native and Gary Roosevelt product... Enjoys clothes, going on walks, nature and hiking.
- #5 Ola Ajiboye – Enjoys meeting new people, playing table tennis, swimming and being around people.
- #6 Darius DeAveiro – Played soccer until his freshman year of high school, when he gave up the sport to focus on basketball. Played on the state team for soccer at age 13 and traveled significantly for the sport, including a trip to England.
- #7 Jahari Williamson – Owns numerous golf medals.
- #10 Lucas Scroggins – Loves to draw and hopes to pursue an art-related career.
- #13 Cooper Schwieger – Twin brother Carson plays at Wright State. A lot of people think they are identical, but they are fraternal twins.
- #19 Isaiah Stafford – Enjoys spending time with family as well as playing board games, card games and video games.
- #20 Joe Vick – Walk-on whose favorite sports memory is playing in Bankers Life Fieldhouse (now Gainbridge Fieldhouse).
- #21 Kaspar Sepp – His national team coach is former teammates with Valpo assistant coach A.J. Moye and his prep coach is Moye’s former roommate.
- #34 Lual Manyang – Favorite TV show is Shark Tank and his favorite athletes are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kobe Bryant.
- #35 Luke Carroll – Walk-on who enjoys golfing and fishing in his spare time.
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 15 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 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.