Valparaiso (19-4, 9-1 Horizon)
Game #24 - Saturday, Feb. 4 - noon
at Green Bay (14-9, 8-3 Horizon)
Resch Center (9,906) - Green Bay, Wis.
Next Up in Crusader Basketball:The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team looks to complete a sweep of the Wisconsin road swing Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders take on second-place Green Bay. A win on Saturday would not only give Valpo a three-game lead in the league standings, but would also mark the program’s longest winning streak in 15 seasons.
Last Time Out: Fans of Valpo basketball could be forgiven Thursday night for feeling like watching the Crusaders is like living through the movie Groundhog Day, as Valpo handled Milwaukee by leading start to finish in a 71-53 victory in Milwaukee. The win was the Crusaders’ eighth straight – the program’s longest winning streak in nearly a decade – and also was Valpo’s fifth consecutive road victory, as well as the team’s sixth straight win at Milwaukee.
Following the Crusaders: Video - ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app
Radio – Valpo Sports Network [WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso); WVLP (103.1 FM, Valparaiso)] - Todd Ickow (PxP) and Aaron Leavitt (Analyst)
Links for the video, audio and live stats will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Matt Lottich: Matt Lottich is in his first season at the helm of the Valparaiso University men’s basketball program in 2016-17 after being named the 22nd head coach in program history on April 7. Lottich previously served as an assistant coach for the last three seasons, helping Valpo earn 78 victories - including a school-record 30 last season - and a pair of Horizon League regular season titles.
Series Notes: Green Bay holds a 29-25 advantage in the all-time series over the Crusaders, including an 18-6 mark at home over Valpo. The Crusaders are 7-3 in the last 10 matchups with the Phoenix, however, including an 80-56 win at the ARC earlier this season. Alec Peters led Valpo in the win last month with 20 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while the Crusader defense limited Green Bay to just 31% shooting from the field - including a 6-of-25 mark from 3-point range.
...and the @HorizonLeague
- Valpo was picked to win the Horizon League in preseason polling, earning 35 of the 39 first-place votes.
- The Crusaders have not finished worse than their preseason projection in the last six years.
- Senior Alec Peters was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year, Valpo’s first league preseason player of the year since Lubos Barton (2001-02, Mid-Con).
- Senior Shane Hammink joined Peters as a preseason All-League choice, earning a spot on the Second Team.
...looking back at last year
- The 2015-16 Crusader squad won a school-record 30 games, finishing the year 30-7.
- Valpo claimed the Horizon League regular season title by going 16-2 in league play, winning the league by three games.
- The Crusaders were the first Horizon League team to win the league title by at least three games since 2009-10.
- The regular season title was Valpo’s fourth in a five-year span, a feat accomplished only by Butler and Xavier previously within the league.
- Valpo set new Horizon League records in league-only play for scoring margin, rebounds, rebounding average and rebound margin.
- The Crusaders received an automatic bid into the NIT and were awarded a 1 seed as one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament.
- Valpo defeated Texas Southern, Florida State and Saint Mary’s at the ARC to advance to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- The Crusaders beat BYU in a thriller at MSG before falling in the championship game of the NIT to George Washington.
- Vashil Fernandez led the nation in blocked shots, was named National Defensive Player of the Year and repeated as Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
- Alec Peters was an AP Honorable Mention All-American and earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team for a second straight year.
- Bryce Drew repeated as Horizon League Coach of the Year.
...notes from Milwaukee
- The Crusaders have now won five straight true road games after dropping their first two of the season. Going back to the start of last season, Valpo is 12-1 in its last 13 Horizon League road contests.
- The victory was Valpo’s fourth of the year without trailing.
- Valpo has now won six consecutive games at Milwaukee.
- Alec Peters finished with a game-high 22 points, including his best effort of the year from the 3-point line, where he knocked down four of five attempts. The senior also was a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line.
- Micah Bradford finished Thursday’s win with a career-best 14 points, going 5-of-8 from the floor – including a 3-of-4 mark from 3-point range.
- Valpo connected on 9-of-19 3-point attempts - the 47.4% clip from deep was the team’s best mark within league play this year. Over the last five games, the Crusaders have hit 38.1% from deep after hitting just 30.4% in their first 18 games.
- The Crusaders continued their dominating effort on the boards, out-rebounding the Panthers 34-24 – their fifth double-figure advantage on the glass in the last seven games.
...notes from Northern Kentucky
- Valpo improved to 8-1 in Horizon League play with the win, moving two games up in the loss column on Green Bay, which fell at Detroit Mercy on Sunday.
- The win was the Crusaders’ first by single digits since their 81-74 triumph over Detroit Mercy on Jan. 8, snapping a streak of five consecutive double-figure wins.
- Shane Hammink paced Valpo with 21 points on Sunday, his seventh effort of at least 20 points of the year and second in the last three games.
- Alec Peters struggled through a rough shooting day, but did go 6-of-7 from the foul line in finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the year.
- Freshman Micah Bradford set a new season best by knocking down three 3-pointers in a nine-point effort.
- Led by Peters and Tevonn Walker (season-high 11 rebounds), the Crusaders out-rebounded one of the nation’s top rebounding teams in NKU by 15 (44-29).
- The Crusaders did continue their strong effort at the foul line, hitting 80% (12-of-15).
- Valpo returns home next weekend, hosting Cleveland State on Thursday and Youngstown State on Saturday.
- The Crusaders will then make the annual road swing through the state of Michigan the next weekend.
...on the road
- Valpo enters this season having posted a winning record in true road games three of the last four years, after having not done so the previous 10 seasons.
- Last year, the Crusaders posted a 12-4 record in true road games - including an 8-1 mark on the road in Horizon League play.
- This year’s team had just three true road games on the slate during the non-league schedule and currently sits at 5-2 in true road action, including a perfect 4-0 mark so far on the road in league play.
- Green Bay, which was undefeated in Horizon League action entering the first meeting of the year with Valpo, is just 3-3 in its last six games - most recently taking down UIC Thursday night, 84-80.
- The Phoenix own a 14-9 overall record entering Saturday.
- Four different GB players average in double figures, led by 13.2 points per game from Charles Cooper. Warren Jones has been strong off the bench in league play, averaging 11.2 ppg on 56.4% 3-point shooting and posting a 3.33 assist/turnover ratio.
- Thursday’s win over Milwaukee marks the third consecutive year the Crusaders have been 19-4 through 23 games, but just the fifth time in program history.
- Valpo has parlayed 19-4 records through 23 games into the two winningest seasons in program history the last two years (28 wins in 2014-15; 30 wins in 2015-16).
- Prior to the 2014-15 campaign, you had to go back to the FDR administration, as the “World’s Tallest Team” in 1944-45 was 20-3 through 23 games and ended the year 21-3.
- 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.
- A win on Saturday would make this year’s squad the 20th in program history to win at least 20 games, and would be the second-earliest the Crusaders have reached the 20-win mark - the 2014-15 squad won its 20th game on January 31.
- With the win Thursday over Milwaukee, Valpo extended its current winning streak to a season-long eight games
- The eight-game winning streak is the longest by a Crusader squad since the 2007-08 team won eight straight games Nov. 23-Dec. 15, 2007.
- A win on Saturday would give the Crusaders nine straight wins, which last was accomplished Jan. 12-Feb. 14, 2002.
- Valpo has not won 10 or more games consecutively since a 13-game winning streak which was capped by NCAA Tournament wins over Ole Miss and Florida State Jan. 29-Mar. 15, 1998.
Let’s Get Defensive
- The Crusaders’ defensive prowess has stood out recently, as Valpo has limited its opponents to 58 or fewer points in four of the last five games - including each of the last three.
- Valpo last held three straight Horizon League opponents to 58 or fewer points Feb. 13-21, 2015 - when the shot clock was still 35 seconds.
- Within league play, the Crusaders own a defensive efficiency of 90.5 - over seven points better than Oakland in the number two spot.
- Overall this season, Valpo’s defensive efficiency (98.4) ranks 61st nationally after ranking eighth and 45th each of the last two years.
- The Crusaders’ efficiency on the defensive end has come about in a different way this season than the last two years.
- Opponents are shooting four to five points higher from two-point range than they have the last two seasons, but the Crusaders are limiting the opposition to just 31% shooting from 3-point range - 26th-best nationally.
- Valpo has also put its opponents on the foul line more infrequently than it has in any season since at least 2001-02.
Big Wins In League Play
- Valpo got back to its easy winning ways on Thursday at Milwaukee with an 18-point win over the Panthers.
- Last Sunday’s victory over NKU was Valpo’s first by single digits in a six-game span, as the Crusaders had previously won their last five games by 10 points or more.
- This was the third time in the last two seasons that Valpo has won five or more league games in a row by double figures, as the Crusaders had separate such streaks of six and five games last year.
- Prior to last season, Valpo had never won five straight league games by 10+ points.
- Alec Peters needed just 4:31 to score his seventh point against UIC last Sunday and surpass Bryce Drew’s Valpo career scoring record of 2,142 career points.
- While Peters needed 125 games to break Drew’s record, which was set in 121 games, Peters played over 300 fewer minutes than Drew to surpass the mark.
- Peters is just the fourth different player to hold Valpo’s career scoring record in the last 48 years (Bruce Lindner-1970; Tracy Gipson-1993; Bryce Drew-1998).
- Peters’ career-high 16th rebound of the Green Bay home game moved him past Chris Ensminger atop the Valpo record book with his 911th career rebound.
- Peters broke his first Valpo career record in the win at YSU, as his first basket of that game surpassed Drew’s record of 696 made field goals.
- Most recently, Peters connected on a free throw with 15 seconds to play versus NKU to break Ed Eckart’s Valpo career record of 452 free throws made.
Atop Both Lists
- By breaking the career scoring record, Peters joined an illustrious group of players who hold both scoring and rebounding records at their alma maters.
- Thr group numbers about 50 players, and includes such all-time greats as Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Jerry West, Bill Bradley, Larry Bird and David Robinson.
- Meanwhile, Peters is going to go down as one of the top players in Indiana college basketball history as well.
- There are currently only two players from Indiana D-I schools who finished their careers with more points and rebounds than Peters has amassed to date.
- Bird posted 2,850 points and 1,247 rebounds at Indiana State, while Luke Harangody tallied 2,476 points and 1,222 rebounds at Notre Dame.
- With eight made free throws at Milwaukee, Peters now has made 155 free throws this season, already third-most in a single campaign in program history.
- Peters is just 22 free throws away from Bruce Lindner’s single-season record of 177, set during the 1969-70 season.
- Peters is already approaching single-season top-10 lists in the scoring and rebounding categories as well.
- The senior is just 19 points and 13rebounds away from cracking the top-10 charts in the respective categories.
- At his current rates (23.8 ppg/10.9 rpg), Peters would need eight more games to break Bruce Lindner’s single-season scoring record (725 points; 1969-70) and 11 more games to break Joel Oberman’s rebounding record (375 boards; 1973-74).
Taking Advantage of Charity
- As of the end of play Tuesday, Valpo led the nation as a team in free throw pct., hitting at a 80.7% clip from the foul line this season.
- Valpo’s top three in free throw attempts this season are all hitting at 82% or better for the year.
- Through 23 games, Valpo has made 25 more free throws (440) than its opponents have attempted (415).
- The Crusaders have connected on at least 80% of their free throw attempts in 13 games this year, and have been under 70% just three times.
Continued Success Within the League
- Valpo has been strong within Horizon League play since joining the league prior to the 2007-08 season.
- Currently in their 10th season as a Horizon League member, the Crusaders own a league record of 110-56 (.663).
- Thursday’s win over Milwaukee secured a ninth season at .500 or above through the Crusaders’ first 10 seasons in the league.
- Valpo has captured four of the last five Horizon League regular season titles.
Peters’ Impressive Season
- Peters was recently named to the midseason top-25 list for the Wooden Award, the midseason top-19 list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy (both national Player of the Year awards) and the top-10 finalists for the Karl Malone Award (national Power Forward of the Year).
- Peters is currently averaging 23.8 points/game - good for second nationally.
- Peters is also pulling down 10.9 rebounds/game and has recorded 15 double-doubles.
- Peters has recorded at least eight rebounds in 21 of Valpo’s 23 games.
- Peters leads all D-I players in Ken Pomeroy’s Game MVP stat, garnering 12 game MVPs this season, and ranks seventh nationally in offensive rating (>28% possessions used).
- As of the end of play Thursday, Peters was tied for second nationally in free throws made, eighth in field goals made, fifth in double-doubles, ninth in rebounding and 14th in free throw percentage.
- Peters has been named Horizon League Player of the Week four times this season, giving him nine career weekly honors from the league.
- Peters has moved into first place in program history and is now fifth in Horizon League history in career scoring with 2,229 career points.
- Peters currently ranks as the nation’s active leader in both career points scored and consecutive games started (128).
- For a full list of where Peters currently ranks in Horizon League and Valpo history, see the box on page four of the notes.
20 Or More Points
- Alec Peters scored 20 or more points in each of Valpo’s first 12 games this season, easily the longest streak of 20+ point games in recent Crusader history.
- Dating back to the 1994-95 season, Peters owns the two longest streaks of 20+ point games - he scored 20 or more in seven straight outings late last year.
- The longest streak of 20+ point games by somebody other than Peters in that span is five consecutive games - Bryce Drew (1996-97) and Dan Oppland (2004-05).
- The most games with 20 or more points in a single season in that span came in 2004-05, as Oppland scored at least 20 points on 18 occasions - Peters matched that mark last time out at Milwaukee.
- Drew and Peters are the only Crusaders in that span with three separate seasons scoring 20+ points in at least 10 games.
- The Crusaders entered league play with at least 10 victories under their belt for the fourth time in the last five years following the Chicago State win.
- Valpo owns a 51-19 (.729) record in pre-league action since the Horizon League eliminated the early December league weekend prior to the 2012-13 season.
- This is the second straight year that Valpo entered league play with a 10-3 record in the pre-league campaign.
Beating Ranked Teams
- Valpo snapped a 40-game winless streak against nationally-ranked opposition on Nov. 29 with the win over Rhode Island.
- The Crusaders had not taken down a top-25 opponent since their win over Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
- Prior to the win over the Rams, Valpo had not earned a home win over a top-25 team since beating Notre Dame in December of 1988.
Starting on a Winning Note
- Head coach Matt Lottich became the first Crusader coach in 36 years to open his head coaching tenure at Valpo with a win with the victory over SUU.
- Tom Smith was the last Valpo head coach to start his Crusader career with a win, winning three straight in six days at home to open the 1980-81 campaign.
- The Drews all faced tough competition in their head coaching debuts at Valpo: Homer at Butler, Scott at eventual national champion Syracuse, and Bryce at Arizona.
- Lottich was the first coach to start his Valpo career with a 7-1 record since Wilbur Allen started off the 1949-50 season by winning seven of the season’s first eight games.
Addition to the Trophy Case
- Valpo’s wins over Alabama and BYU gave the Crusaders the Heavyweight championship belt at the Men Who Speak Up Main Event.
- The title is the program’s fourth in-season championship in the last seven years.
- Valpo most recently earned the championship trophy in November 2014 at the Challenge in Music City.
- The Crusaders took home top honors in November 2010 at the Las Vegas Invitational and in December 2010 at the Lou Henson Award Tournament.
Wins Over Power Conference Foes
- Valpo’s win over Alabama was its third over a power conference opponent in the last two years - the Crusaders went on the road to beat Oregon State last season and then took down Florida State at the ARC in the second round of the NIT.
- Prior to last season’s win over Oregon State, Valpo had not defeated a team from the power-5 conferences since winning at Washington in the 2008 CBI.
- Nine out of Valpo’s last 12 victories over opponents out of the power-5 conferences have come on neutral courts.
A Look at the Record Book
- Lexus Williams matched the program’s single-game steals record with seven against Trinity Christian.
- Williams tied a record previously shared by Milo Stovall (Dec. 12, 1999 - Texas A&M-CC) and Bryce Drew (Dec. 7, 1996 - Milwaukee).
- Meanwhile, Alec Peters attempted 29 shots versus the Trolls - the most by a Crusader in at least 22 years. Peters then tossed up 28 shots against Santa Clara.
- Valpo matched a program record as a team with a perfect performance at the foul line at Oregon, going 14-of-14 from the charity stripe.
- The Crusaders’ 17 steals against Ball State as a team were third-most all-time, just two shy of the record of 19 (vs. Centenary, 12/10/88).
- Williams picked up six steals against the Cardinals, tied for fourth-most in a game by a single player.
- Peters has now played 128 career games, eighth-most by a Crusader all time.