Valparaiso Crusaders: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

(Getty)

(Getty)

The Valparaiso Crusaders won the Horizon League regular and tournament championships to earn a second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three years. Led by Head Coach Bryce Drew, son of legendary coach Homer Drew and brother of Baylor coach Scott Drew, “Valpo” finished the season with a 28-5 record, knocking off Wisconsin-Green Bay 54-44 on March 10.

Here’s what you need to know about the Crusaders:


1. The Crusaders Are Horizon League Champs for the 2nd Time

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

Valparaiso topped a tough Horizon League this year, finishing ahead of UW-Green Bay, a team that was considered one of the top mid majors heading into the season. Valpo won the league’s tournament championship for the first time in 2013. The Crusaders have been to the NCAA Tournament nine times, winning the former Mid-Continent Conference eight times during the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s.


2. Drew is Known for ‘The Shot’


1998: The Bryce Drew Shot – Valpo upsets Ole MissNCAA Vault – Relive history by team, year, game or moment using the new interactive play-by-play timeline – goo.gl/u8xnKG – Jamie Sykes floated a pass to Bill Jenkins, who caught it and passed to Bryce Drew in one motion. Drew, then hit the game-winning 3.2013-01-31T01:23:20.000Z

The team’s head coach is also one of the top players in school history. Bryce Drew played for his father, Homer, and hit one of the most memorable game-winning shots in NCAA Tournament history. His shot led the 13th-seeded Crusaders to an improbable upset victory over No. 4 seed Ole Miss. Drew helped lead Valpo all the way to the Sweet 16.

Drew went on to play in the NBA for six seasons as a backup point guard before entering the coaching ranks, becoming an assistant coach on his father’s staff. He was elevated to head coach when his father retired in 2011. His brother, Scott Drew, is the head coach of the Baylor Bears, another NCAA Tournament team.

The former point guard is married to former Atlanta Hawks cheerleader Tara Thibodeaux, the daughter of child actor Keith Thibodeaux, who played Ricky Ricardo Jr. on I Love Lucy.


3. Sophomore Alec Peters Leads a Balanced Attack

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

Alec Peters leads the Crusaders with 16.7 points per game. The forward from Illinois is dangerous from long range, shooting 46 percent from 3-point territory.

Junior Darien Walker averaged 10.8 ppg, while Tevonn Walker, a sophomore, scored 10.2 ppg and Keith Carter, a junior, averaged 8.5 ppg.

Here’s the Crusaders roster:

G Keith Carter (6-1, 185, Jr., Maywood, Illinois)
G E. Victor Nickerson (6-8, 180, Jr., Atlanta, Georgia)
G Tevonn Walker (6-1, 195, Fr., Montreal, Canada)
G Max Joseph (6-1, 205, Fr., Montreal Canada)
G Darien Walker (6-3, 215, Jr., Chicago, Illinois)
F David Skara (6-8, 215, Fr., Croatia)
G Shane Hammink (6-7, 210, Jr., Netherlands)
C Vashil Fernandez (6-10, 245, Sr., Jamaica)
G Lexus Williams (6-0, 160, So., Chicago, Illinois)
G Nick Davidson (6-4, 195, So., Merrillville, Indiana)
F Jubril Adekoya (6-7, 230, So., Tinley Park, Illinois)
F Alec Peters (6-9, 225, So., Washington, Illinois)
F Chandler Levingston Simon (6-7, 220, So., Chicago, Illinois)
F David Chadwick (6-9, 220, Sr., Charlotte, North Carolina)


4. The Crusaders Are a Strong Defensive Team

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

Valparaiso ranks 18th in the country in points allowed per game (59.3).

Senior center Vashil Fernandez was named the Horizon League’s Defensive Player of the Year after a school record 90 blocks (2.9 per game, 11th nationally).

Drew told The Times of Northwest Indiana:

We’re more of a defensive team. It’s our defense that really helps lead to our offense getting on track. We have players that have defended the ball pretty well and then Vashil (Fernandez) has been a big help in the middle. (Tevonn) does a great job getting through screens and he’s rebounded the ball really well, which is a huge advantage


5. Valpo Is Located in Indiana

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

(Valparaiso University/Facebook)

Founded in 1858, Valparaiso University is an independent Lutheran university in Valparaiso, Indiana, about an hour from Chicago. The Northwest Indiana city is best known for its annual Popcorn Festival in honor of one of its famous residents, Orville Redenbacher

The university is home to about 3,300 undergraduate students.

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