Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Valparaiso starts the second half of its Horizon League slate in search of its 20th win of the season, as the Crusaders make the short trip to Chicago to take on UIC Saturday afternoon.
Last Time Out: Valparaiso got off to such a hot start offensively on Monday evening against Milwaukee in Horizon League action that the Crusaders were even scoring points during media timeouts. Valpo opened the game with 15 points inside the first five minutes of play and went on to a 73-48 victory over the Panthers. The Crusaders opened up a 25-point lead (30-5) 14:14 into the game, and never led by less than 20 the rest of the way. Alec Peters went 10-of-14 from the floor for a game-high 24 points.
Following the Crusaders: Audio Valpo Sports Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WJOB, 1230 AM, Hammond) Todd Ickow (PxP) and David Huseman (Color)
Television American Sports Network (check local listings Chicagoland area on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus) Dave Armstrong (PxP) and Kevin Lehman (Color)
Links for live video, audio and stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (85-40) is in his fourth season at the helm of the Crusader men's basketball program in 2014-15. In his first three years, Drew led Valpo to 66 victories and postseason berths in each of his three seasons. The 2012 HL Coach of the Year, Drew ascended to the head coaching position on May 17, 2011 after spending six seasons as an assistant and associate head coach with the Crusaders.
Series Notes: UIC leads the all-time series against the Crusaders, 29-22, but Valpo owns a 13-3 advantage in the series since joining the Horizon League. In fact, the Crusaders have won 12 consecutive meetings with the Flames and haven’t lost to UIC since February of 2009. Earlier this season, Valpo downed UIC at the ARC, 85-56, as the Crusaders shot 60.4% from the field. Five Valpo players finished in double figures in scoring, led by 15 points from Vashil Fernandez.
...and the @HorizonLeague
@ValpoBasketball has been picked to finish in fourth place in the league standings in 2014-15 in preseason polling.
The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last four years.
Sophomore Alec Peters was the lone underclassman on the preseason #HLMBB First Team All-League squad.
...looking back at last year
@ValpoBasketball won 18 games and finished in fourth place in the #HLMBB regular season.
The Crusaders advanced to the postseason for the fourth straight year, falling in the first round of the CIT to Columbia.
Lavonte Dority was a First Team All-League selection and also earned All-Region honors.
Alec Peters and Lexus Williams were both named to the league's All-Freshman Team.
...notes from Milwaukee
Valpo scored 15 points in the first 4:44 of the win and never trailed the seventh time this year the Crusaders have led start-to-finish.
The Crusaders eventually opened the game on a 30-5 run and never led by less than 20 the rest of the way.
Valpo finished with its best FT percentage (.867), second-best 3-point percentage (.600) and third-best FG percentage (.563) of the year.
For the second straight game, the Crusaders took just one 3-point attempt in the second half and just 10 total for the game.
The Crusaders held Milwaukee to a .383 FG percentage, the sixth time in eight league games Valpo’s opponent has been sub-.400.
Alec Peters matched a career high with 10 field goals, going 10-of-14 for a game-high 24 points.
David Skara set a season best against a D-I opponent, scoring 14 points.
@ValpoBasketball plays its next three games at home, starting with a game against Detroit on Wednesday.
The Crusaders then host Oakland on Sunday, Feb. 8 and close the homestand against Green Bay on Friday, Feb. 13.
...on the road
@ValpoBasketball is 5-3 in true road games so far this year and 10-3 overall away from home.
Valpo has flipped its luck away from home this year, after going just 5-9 on the road last season.
Under Bryce Drew, Valpo owns a 19-10 record on the road in #HLMBB play.
UIC enters Saturday’s game at 5-17 overall and 1-6 in #HLMBB play after falling at Milwaukee Thursday night.
The Flames are 5-5 at home this year, with four of their five home losses coming by five or fewer points.
Former Crusader Jay Harris leads UIC, averaging 14.0 ppg he ranks as one of the nation’s best free throw shooters as well (.888).
Junior forward Jake Wiegand backs up Harris with 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Up to 19 Wins
@ValpoBasketball reached 19 wins on the year with the win over Milwaukee on Monday.
The Crusaders were the fifth team nationally to reach 19 wins and are one of eight programs with at least 19 wins as of Wednesday.
This year’s Valpo team has reached every win from 10 through 19 earlier in the calendar than any other team in program history.
The Crusaders have never reached their 20th win before Feb. 12 (2012-13 season).
The 2007-08 squad earned its 10th win on Dec. 15, the only other team in program history to hit 10 wins before Christmas.
This year’s team has already surpassed last season’s win total (18).
This season marks the third time in Crusader history and the first time in the program’s D-I era that Valpo had been 19-4 or better through 23 games.
Most recently it occured during the FDR administration, as the “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 ended the year 23-3.
The Crusaders won their first 19 games in 1923-24 en route to a 24-4 record, while the 1930-31 squad finished at 16-2.
The 1996-97 squad was the only D-I Valpo team to go deeper into the season before suffering its third loss, winning 14 of its first 16 games.
Valpo won seven games in a row earlier this year to set its longest winning streak under Bryce Drew [won six in a row twice in 2012-13].
Hitting the Glass
Valpo has out-rebounded opponents by double figures 10 times on the year, including a +21 edge last Saturday at Wright State.
The +21 margin was the Crusaders’ best against a D-I opponent since a +22 advantage on the glass last year against Saint Louis.
By contrast, the Crusaders have only been outrebounded on two occasions losses to New Mexico and Missouri.
The Crusaders’ league-leading rebounding margin sits at +8.3, good for 12th in the nation.
Valpo leads the league in rebounding margin by nearly five boards, and also paces the circuit in both offensive and defensive rebounding pct.
The Crusaders gave up just 48 points last time out and haven’t given up more than 64 points in their last seven games.
Valpo held three straight teams to 56 points, the first time it has won three straight games and given up 56 or fewer points in all three since Dec. 7-17, 1983.
Valpo ranks 34th nationally in scoring defense and 17th in field goal percentage defense.
Valpo boasts a defensive efficiency of 92.4, 31st-best nationally the Crusaders haven’t ranked in the top-100 since 2006-07.
Crusader opponents are shooting just 42.5% from 2-point range (21st nationally) and are pulling down just 25.8% of available offensive boards (16th nationally).
On Pace for 1,000
Sophomore Alec Peters is near pace to become the first sophomore in Crusader history to reach the 1,000 point milestone.
Peters enters Saturday’s game with 840 points and would need to average 17.8 ppg over the Crusaders’ guaranteed nine remaining games to hit 1,000.
For comparison, Bryce Drew had 912 points through his first two seasons in a Valpo uniform.
Peters has scored 20+ points 10 times already this season, the most among #HLMBB players.
Peters’ .464 3-point percentage this year would rank fifth in a single season in program history and ranks eighth nationally.
Valpo’s offense has averaged at least a point per possession in all but six games this year the four losses, and the CSU/WSU wins.
Defensively, the Crusaders have surrendered less than a point per possession in all but four games.
Alec Peters ranks sixth nationally in Offensive Rating among players who use at least 24% of their team’s possessions.
Vashil Fernandez currently sits seventh nationally in block percentage.
Who's Back This Season
@ValpoBasketball returns just seven letterwinners from its 2013-14 team, returning 48.3% of scoring and 56.8% of rebounding.
Leading the returnees is preseason First Team All-League selection Alec Peters (12.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
Jubril Adekoya (5.8 ppg, 53.7% FG%) and Vashil Fernandez (58 blocks last year, fourth-most in program history) also are returning starters.
Sophomore Lexus Williams returns as well, but is expected to miss the entire season.
Lots of New Faces
Nearly half of the @ValpoBasketball roster (6 of 14 players) is new to the program this season.
Five players are eligible for the first time this season, including Charlotte transfer E. Victor Nickerson, who sat out at Valpo last year.
Darien Walker came to Valpo from junior college, while Max Joseph, David Skara and Tevonn Walker are all true freshmen.
Shane Hammink (LSU) and Chandler Levingston Simon (UMKC) both transferred to Valpo last off-season and have to sit out this year.
The International Flavor
This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that @ValpoBasketball has cultivated over the past two decades.
The Crusaders boast five international players on this year’s roster from four different countries.
Represented are Canada (Joseph, T. Walker), Croatia (Skara), Jamaica (Fernandez) and Netherlands (Hammink).
The duo from Canada mark the first Canadian players in program history.
Over the past two decades, @ValpoBasketball has welcomed 31 international players from 18 different countries.
Crusader signee Daniel Relvao is from Portugal and will become the first Portugese player in program history when he joins in 2015-16.
In the Crusaders’ Future
Daniel Relvao and Derrik Smits have both signed NLIs to join @ValpoBasketball as freshmen for the 2015-16 campaign.
Relvao (6’9”, 235 lbs.) hails from Coimbra, Portugal and currently plays prep ball at Mountain Mission [Va.] School.
Relvao averaged 8.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 3.3 bpg for Portugal last summer in Division B of the FIBA U18 World Championship.
Smits (7’0”, 230 lbs.) will join Valpo from Zionsville [Ind.] H.S., where he averaged in double figures last season & also posted 3.6 rpg and 1.8 bpg.
Smits is the son of former Indiana Pacers star center Rik Smits.
Bryce Drew is in his fourth season as head coach of @ValpoBasketball and is in his tenth season overall on the coaching staff.
Last season, Drew led the Crusaders to 18 wins and their fourth straight postseason berth.
In 2012-13, Drew guided Valpo to its second straight regular season title, its first tournament title and a school record 26 wins.
Drew was named #HLMBB Coach of the Year in 2011-12 in his first season as head coach 22 wins and #HLMBB regular season title.
Drew was the first Crusader men’s basketball Coach of the Year since 2001-02, when dad Homer won the honor in the Mid-Con.
Prior to coaching, Drew spent seven seasons playing professionally, including six seasons in the NBA.
Drew was a two-time Mid-Con MVP in his playing days with Valparaiso, helping the team to three NCAA tournament appearances.
Drew hit “The Shot”, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament, to lift the Crusaders over Ole Miss.
“The Shot” was named one of the top-35 All-Time Madness Moments by the NCAA as part of the celebration of 75 Years of March Madness.
Bryce is the third member of the Drew family to serve as head coach of @ValpoBasketball.
Father Homer was head coach from 1988-2002, and then returned to lead Valpo from 2003-11.
Brother Scott (current head coach of @BaylorMBB) led the Crusaders during the 2002-03 season after nine seasons as an assistant under Homer.
A Drew has been at the helm of the Crusaders for the last 26 years. #DrewFamilyDynasty
The Drew family has combined to lead @ValpoBasketball to 476 victories and 12 postseason appearances. #DrewFamilyDynasty
Overall, the trio of Drews owns 966 collegiate victories over a combined 45+ seasons of head coaching. #DrewFamilyDynasty
@ValpoBasketball boasts one of the nation’s highest-scoring staffs, as a trio of coaches combined for 4,211 points during their D-I careers.
Head coach Bryce Drew scored 2,142 points during his four-year career with the Crusaders.
Assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. tallied 1,178 points during his four-year career with Illinois.
Assistant coach Matt Lottich poured in 891 points over his four-year career at Stanford.
Assistant coach Luke Gore also played collegiately at NAIA Bethel [Tenn.] College.
Peters matched his career high with 10 field goals, going 10-of-14 from the floor for a game-high 24 points last time out versus Milwaukee.
Peters paced the Crusaders in each of their two wins over YSU, scoring 18 points in both victories.
Peters led all players with 24 points against CSU, hitting 5-of-7 from 3-point range and 7-of-7 from the foul line.
Peters posted his third career double-double at JMU, going for 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Peters earned his second #HLMBB Player of the Week award Dec. 22 after scoring 52 points in the Crusaders’ last three halves of play.
Peters scored 23 points in the second half at IPFW in the come-from-behind win and then posted 29 points against Goshen.
Peters registered his second career double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Ball State.
Peters matched his career high with seven 3-pointers, leading all scorers with 21 points and grabbing seven rebounds at EKU.
Peters was named MVP of the Challenge in Music City and named #HLMBB Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
Peters was named to the All-Tournament Team at CMU and was named #HLMBB Player of the Week Nov. 24.
Peters set a new career high with 31 points (9-13 FG, 4-6 3PT, 9-10 FT) in the win over Maine.
Peters is one of just three Crusaders with three 30+ point games in their careers in the last two decades.
Peters was a preseason First Team All-League selection after earning All-Freshman team honors last year as a rookie.
Peters averaged 12.7 ppg and 4.8 rpg last year, becoming the highest-scoring Valpo freshman since 1998-99.
A four-time #HLMBB Freshman of the Week, Peters also grabbed the most rebounds by a Valpo freshman since 1999-2000.
Fernandez now has 69 blocks this season, just two shy of the Crusader single-season record after a pair of blocks versus UWM.
Fernandez led all players in both scoring (14) and rebounding (9) in the win at Wright State.
Fernandez set a new career high with 15 points (6-6 FG) while also tallying eight rebounds and four blocks vs. UIC.
Fernandez moved into second position on Valpo’s all-time blocks chart with his fourth block vs. UIC and now has 141 career blocks.
Fernandez grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds and also tallied eight points and three blocks versus YSU.
Fernandez blocked a Crusader single-game record eight shots against Goshen.
Fernandez tallied eight points, five rebounds and six blocks in the win at IPFW.
Fernandez was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field for 12 points and six rebounds in the win at EKU.
Fernandez was named to the All-Tournament Team at CMU.
Fernandez recorded 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the win over UAPB.
Fernandez averaged 4.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a junior, and blocked 58 shots fourth-most in a season in Valpo history.
Fernandez spent the summer of 2014 playing for the Jamaican national team at FIBA Centrobasket.
Carter picked up his first career double-double, registering 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Youngstown State.
Carter matched a season best with 18 points at Oakland, including a game-tying triple with 9.9 seconds left to force overtime.
Carter scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists in the win at JMU.
Carter scored a season-best 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-4 3PT) and tallied four assists and four steals in the win at IPFW.
Carter matched his career high with seven assists and scored nine second-half points in the win at EKU.
Carter scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the victory over Drake and recorded a career-high four steals the next night versus Murray State.
Carter appeared in each of the final 22 games of the 2013-14 season after becoming eligible, averaging 5.7 ppg and 2.3 apg.
Carter connected at a 40% clip from 3-point range in his first year as a Crusader.
Carter, a former Illinois Mr. Basketball runner-up, came to Valpo after spending the first half of his freshman year at Saint Louis.
Adekoya is averaging 7.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in league play while shooting at a 69.7% clip from the field.
Adekoya set a new career high at YSU with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting.
Adekoya scored 10 points (4-5 FG) and matched his career best with nine rebounds in the win over UIC.
Adekoya was a perfect 3-3 from the field for seven points, nine rebounds and four assists at Oakland.
Adekoya scored six points and grabbed five rebounds versus Drake, and pulled down seven boards the next day against Murray State.
Adekoya appeared in all 34 games as a rookie for Valpo in 2013-14, starting 24 times and averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Adekoya shot at a 63.6% clip from inside the 3-point line last year.
Adekoya scored a season-high 13 points at Youngstown State and pulled down a season-best nine rebounds at Detroit.
Chadwick set a new personal best against a D-I team, scoring eight points in the win at JMU in 11 minutes.
Chadwick scored nine points and grabbed a pair of rebounds in 19 minutes of action in the win over Goshen.
Chadwick made both his field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, en route to seven points in five minutes in the win over Murray State.
Chadwick made his first career start as a Crusader in the win over IUSB, playing 19 minutes and grabbing four rebounds.
Chadwick appeared in 12 games last season in his first season playing for the Crusaders, scoring career-best 14 points vs. Cincinnati Christian.
Chadwick appeared in 52 games over his first two collegiate seasons at Rice.
Davidson scored four points and handed out an assist in 11 minutes against UIC.
Davidson set a new career high with eight points in the win at JMU, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers.
Davidson knocked down a triple and handed out two assists in the win over Goshen.
Davidson made his first career start against TIU, scoring four points.
Davidson hit a pair of second-half 3-pointers in the win over Maine.
Davidson saw 11 minutes off the bench versus IUSB, scoring three points and tallying a pair of steals.
Davidson appeared in 14 games off the bench as a freshman, going for seven points and five assists in a win over Cincinnati Christian.
Davidson was the area Player of the Year following his senior year at Andrean [Ind.] H.S.
E. Victor Nickerson
Nickerson led the Crusaders with 10 points at Green Bay.
Nickerson scored nine points in the wins over James Madison and Youngstown State.
Nickerson tallied six rebounds and tied for team-high honors with four assists in the win over Goshen.
Nickerson scored nine points in 17 minutes off the bench in the win over Ball State.
Nickerson scored seven points in the win over Murray State and went 4-of-5 for eight points in the victory against Portland.
Nickerson handed out a game-high four assists in the win over Maine.
Nickerson paced Valpo with 12 points (4-5 FG, 3-3 FT) off the bench at Missouri.
Nickerson sat out last season after transferring to Valpo from Charlotte.
Nickerson appeared in 60 games for Charlotte over his first two years, starting 15 times as a sophomore.
Nickerson was an Honorable Mention All-State selection as a senior in HS, helping lead Norcross to Georgia 5A state title.
Joseph is averaging 3.6 ppg and 2.4 apg over Valpo’s last five #HLMBB wins and has committed just six turnovers.
Joseph played a career-high 26 minutes in the win over UIC, scoring nine points (3-3 FG) and handing out three assists.
Joseph scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and came up with four steals against Trinity International.
Joseph tallied three points, four rebounds and three assists in the victory over IUSB.
Joseph was a RSEQ Second Team All-Star in his senior season at Vanier College.
Joseph earned First Team All-Star honors at the national tournament, helping lead Vanier to a berth in the bronze medal match.
Skara posted a season high against a D-I opponent last time out, scoring 14 points (4-5 FG, 5-5 FT) in the win over Milwaukee.
Skara was a perfect 4-4 from the field, going for nine points, seven rebounds and four assists in the win over Goshen.
Skara made his first career start against Trinity International, tallying 11 points and four boards.
Skara scored 10 points in 18 minutes in the win vs. Murray State.
Skara scored 10 second-half points off the bench in the win over Maine.
Skara led all players with 17 points (6-9 FG) and also handed out six assists without committing a turnover in the win over IUSB.
Skara scored in double figures off the bench in the season opener vs. ETSU, going for 11 points and five rebounds in just 15 minutes.
Skara spent last season at Midwest Elite Prep (Ind.) Academy, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game for the Warriors.
Skara represented Croatia at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, helping team to the bronze medal he appeared in four games, recording ten points and five rebounds in a win over South Korea.
Walker scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half of the win at WSU.
Walker scored 13 points (5-9 FG) and added four rebounds in the win vs. UIC.
Walker registered a game-high and new career-best seven assists in the win at JMU.
Walker was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Challenge in Music City.
Walker scored a game-high 19 points (7-14 FG) against Drake.
Walker added 18 points (7-10 FG, 4-5 3PT) in the win over Murray State and scored 13 points in the clinching win over Portland.
Walker made his first two Crusader starts at Central Michigan, scoring 11 points in just 21 minutes in the win over Maine.
Walker scored 20 points in the season-opening win over ETSU, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
Walker spent last season at John A. Logan College, where he averaged 13.4 ppg and was a First Team All-Region 24 selection.
Walker played as a freshman at Arizona Western College, registering 11.1 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
Walker helped Chicago powerhouse Simeon H.S. to back-to-back Illiois 4A state titles.
Walker has scored at least seven points in 16 of Valpo’s last 17 games, including 10 points last time out in the win over Milwaukee.
Walker scored seven points and led all players with a career-best 13 rebounds at Green Bay.
Walker hit all three of his 3-point attempts en route to 13 points and five rebounds at YSU.
Walker was named #HLMBB Freshman of the Week on Jan. 5.
Walker set a new career high at Oakland, scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Walker reached double figures at JMU, finishing with 12 points in just 22 minutes.
Walker led the Crusaders with 15 points off the bench in the victory over Trinity International.
Walker registered 15 points and four rebounds in the win at Eastern Kentucky.
Walker tallied 16 points versus Maine, hitting 6-of-10 from the field.
Walker made his Crusader debut in the season opener against East Tennessee State, starting and playing a team-high 32 minutes.
Walker finished with 16 points, including a perfect 8-8 from the foul line, and also handed out three assists without a turnover.
Walker was an All-Canadian selection as a senior and ranked as high as eighth in his class nationally.
Walker was league Player of the Year as a senior at Vanier College, leading the league and ranking 14th nationally with 20.8 ppg.
Williams is expected to miss the entire season after suffering an offseason knee injury.
Williams was a Horizon League All-Freshman Team selection as a rookie last year.
Williams appeared in all 34 games for the Crusaders as a freshman, averaging 6.5 ppg and 2.4 apg.
Williams led the team as a freshman with 35 steals.
Williams scored in double figures eight times, including a career-best 22 points in a win at Detroit.