Valparaiso (2-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #3-5 - Tuesday, Nov. 17-Thursday, Nov. 19
Game 3 - at Rhode Island (1-0, 0-0 A-10) - 11/17, 9 a.m. CT
Game 4 - IU Kokomo (0-3, 0-0 KIAC) - 11/18, 7 p.m.
Game 5 - Trinity Christian (4-1, 0-0 CCAC) - 11/19, 7 p.m.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball: Three games in a three-day span await the Valparaiso University men’s basketball team this week as the Crusaders’ busy early-season schedule continues. Valpo opens Tuesday morning as part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon at Rhode Island, tipping off at 9 a.m. CT, before returning home to the ARC to face IU Kokomo and Trinity Christian on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Last Time Out: Valpo made an early-season statement in a meeting between two of the nation’s top mid-major teams on Sunday, as the Crusaders started their showdown with Iona at the ARC on an 18-2 run and never looked back, eventually winning 83-58. Tevonn Walker led five players in double figures with 17 points.
Following the Crusaders: Tuesday TV - ESPN2 - Sean McDonough (pXp), Tim Welsh (Color)
Wednesday/Thursday Video - ESPN3.com - Todd Ickow (PxP), David Huseman (Color), Tommy Mantice (Sideline)
Audio – WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso)
Links for the audio and video, as well as live stats, will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Bryce Drew: Bryce Drew (96-42) enters his fifth season at the helm of the Crusader men’s basketball program in 2015-16. In his first four years, Drew has led Valpo to three Horizon League regular season titles, two Horizon League tournament championships and four postseason berths, including a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. The 2012 and 2015 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: Rhode Island and Valpo have met three times in program history, with the most notable matchup coming in the Sweet 16 of the 1998 NCAA Tournament - a game URI won 74-68. The Crusaders have won the other two meetings, however, most recently taking down the Rams at the ARC in December of 2001, 68-43.
Valpo has faced IU Kokomo once all-time, in the Cougars’ first year of existence in November of 2011 - a 79-48 Crusader victory. Valpo has never faced Trinity Christian in regular season action.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo has been picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 36 of the 43 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last five years.
- Junior Alec Peters was named to the preseason First Team All-League for a second straight season.
- Seniors Vashil Fernandez and Darien Walker and sophomore Tevonn Walker all earned spots on the preseason Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- Valpo won a program-record 28 games en route to the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles.
- The Crusaders advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time since 1996 and the 14th time overall.
- Valpo has won two of the last three Horizon League Championships and three of the last four HL regular season titles.
- The Crusaders are one of just four programs in league history to capture at least three regular season titles in a four-year span.
- Bryce Drew was named Horizon League Coach of the Year for the second time, as well as NABC District Coach of the Year.
- Alec Peters was a First Team All-League selection and an NABC First Team All-District choice.
- Vashil Fernandez was named HL Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the All-Defensive Team.
- Jubril Adekoya claimed Sixth Man of the Year honors, while Tevonn Walker earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team.
...notes from Iona
- In a matchup of two teams ranked among the top-six in the Mid-Major Top-25 (Valpo 3rd, Iona 6th), the Crusaders never trailed.
- Valpo opened the game on an 18-2 run over the first 6:23 and never let the lead slip under 11 points.
- Tevonn Walker led five Crusaders in double figures with 17 points - Shane Hammink added 16 off the bench.
- Alec Peters (12), Keith Carter (11) and E. Victor Nickerson (10) all finished in double figures as well.
- Nickerson saw 12 minutes of action in his first game back from offseason wrist surgery.
- Vashil Fernandez finished just one block shy of his own single-game Valpo record, rejecting seven Iona shots.
- The Crusaders limited the Gaels to just 29% (18-of-62) shooting from the floor.
- Valpo flies home for games against IU Kokomo (Wednesday) and Trinity Christian (Thursday) at the ARC.
- In all to start the season, Valpo will play five games in the first seven days and seven in the first 12 days.
...on the road
- The game against Rhode Island is the first of seven true road games for the Crusaders in the non-league slate.
- Last season, Valpo went 8-4 in true road games and 13-5 overall in games away from home.
- Rhode Island was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.
- The Rams won 23 games last season and advanced to the second round of the NIT.
- URI won its season opener over American, 65-42.
- Transfer Four McGlynn led the Rams in the opener with 15 points off the bench, hitting four 3-pointers.
- Junior guard E.C. Matthews suffered a season-ending injury in the season opener.
1998 Sweet Sixteen
- While the series history isn’t long between Valpo and URI, the two schools’ matchup in the 1998 Sweet Sixteen was a memorable one.
- Valpo advanced to the Sweet Sixteen that year for the first time, beating Ole Miss in the first round on Bryce Drew’s buzzer-beater before taking down Florida State in OT in the second round.
- Meanwhile, Rhode Island - the eighth seed in the region - upset top-seeded Kansas to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
- The game was dubbed a family affair, as on the Valpo bench, you had Homer Drew as head coach and sons Scott and Bryce as assistant coach and star player, respectively.
- In addition, the Rams’ head coach was Jim Harrick, and his son, Jim Harrick Jr., was an assistant coach on the Crusaders’ staff.
- In a hard-fought battle, Rhode Island advanced to the Elite Eight with a 74-68 victory.
Early Bird Gets the Worm
- Valpo has enjoyed success in morning games over the past decade-plus, as the Crusaders have won their last eight games (dating back to 2001) which have tipped off in the AM local time.
- Last season, Valpo thrashed Maine, 93-70, in a game which tipped off at 9:30 a.m. local time at Central Michigan.
- This marks the Crusaders’ second appearance in the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon - Valpo previously appeared in 2012 at home, a 69-46 win over Northern Illinois at 7 a.m. CT.
- Vashil Fernandez was the only current Crusaders to play in that game, seeing 19 minutes of action.
Taking Advantage of Charity
- Valpo has gotten to the foul line early and often so far this year, attempting 74 free throws over its first two games and going 53-of-74 from the stripe.
- The Crusaders have attempted 41 more free throws than their opponents over the first two games after attempting just 87 more foul shots than their opponents all last year.
- The 38 FTA for Valpo versus IPFW was the team’s most since attempting 43 in last year’s opener vs. East Tennessee State.
What’s Back This Season
- If you said “everything”, you’d be close – the Crusaders return nearly all their players from last year’s record-setting squad.
- 10 of last year’s 11 letterwinners are back for Valpo in 2015-16, comprising 98.8% of its scoring and rebounding and 98.3% of its minutes played from last year’s squad.
- Valpo is the only D-I team in at least the last three years to return all five starters from a team which won at least 28 games.
- Forward David Chadwick, who averaged 2.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in 12 appearances last year, is the only loss from last season.
- With so much returning from last year, the Crusaders have still found room for some new faces on this year’s squad.
- Lexus Williams is back for the Crusaders after missing the entirety of last season with a knee injury.
- LSU transfer Shane Hammink and UMKC transfer Chandler Levingston Simon are both eligible this season after sitting out last year.
- Derrik Smits is the lone freshman on this year’s team – the 7’1” center was an Indiana All-Star at Zionsville H.S.
High Praise Entering the Year
- With the glut of returnees from last year’s team, the Crusaders have been on the receiving end of high praise from a myriad of national outlets entering the season.
- ESPN.com, SI.com, NBCSports.com, NCAA.com and CBSSports.com have all listed Valpo at or near the top of their respective top mid-major teams.
- The Crusaders are #35 in Ken Pomeroy’s preseason ratings and were ranked #41 entering the year by CBSSports.com.
- Valpo picked up five points in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.
- Individually, head coach Bryce Drew was tabbed one of 10 Coaches on the Rise by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein.
- Vashil Fernandez was listed among the nation’s top-seven rim protectors by NCAA.com.
- Alec Peters is one of 20 players on the watch list for the Karl Malone Award, presented to the nation’s top power forward, and is also on the watch list for the Lou Henson Award.
- Valpo went on an international tour this past August to Canada, spending time in Montreal and Ottawa.
- It marks the second time in program history that the Crusaders have taken advantage of the chance to take an international trip.
- Valpo went 4-1 on the trip, with wins over the Montreal All-Stars, Brookwood Elite, McGill and Ottawa, and a loss to five-time defending national champion Carleton.
- Shane Hammink scored in double figures in all five games of the trip to lead the Crusaders.
The International Flavor
- This year’s squad continues the international pipeline that Valpo 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).
- Over the past two decades, Valpo has welcomed 31 international players from 18 different countries.
- Three members of this year’s Crusader roster boast fathers who played at the highest level of pro basketball - in the NBA.
- Most notably, Derrik Smits’ father, Rik, played 12 seasons with the Indiana Pacers and was an All-Star.
- Chandler Levingston Simon’s father, Cliff Levingston, was an 11-year NBA vet who won two titles with the Chicago Bulls.
- Shane Hammink’s father, Geert, was a 1993 first-round draft pick who played parts of three seasons in the NBA.