Alec Peters Will Play in the NBA
If you thought T.J. Leaf was a thorn in Kentucky’s side, wait till you see Alec Peters. Valpo’s star forward is 6’9″ senior that can stretch the floor. He’s shooting 42% from the field, averaging 25.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. In his career he’s never fouled out and shoots 42% from behind the three-point line. Peters will play in the NBA, currently slotted as a first round draft pick by Draft Express at No. 25.
How You Remember Valpo
Former Indiana Mr. Basketball Bryce Drew knocked out fourth-seeded Ole Miss on this insane buzzer-beater in 1998.
Valpo used momentum from their first NCAA Tournament win to propel them to the Sweet 16.
Bryce Drew is No Longer Their Coach
Drew averaged 25 wins a year in his five years as Valpo’s head coach after spending six seasons as an assistant for his father, Homer. Bryce Drew took the Crusaders to two NCAA Tournaments. Last year they reached the NIT Final after being upset by Green Bay in Horizon League Conference Tournament.
Now Vanderbilt’s head coach, the Cats will see Drew twice this year.
Valpo’s New Coach
Valparaiso kept it in-house when searching for a new coach, hiring Matt Lottich to replace Drew. Lottich spent three years on Drew’s staff before being promoted to head coach. It’s no easy task to replace the program’s most beloved player and one of their most successful coaches, but so far, Valpo’s had nothing but success, starting 7-1 with their only loss on the road to No. 4 Oregon.
Valpo ain’t no joke. Since their loss to Oregon, they beat BYU, Alabama and their most recent win was over Rhode Island, a Top 25 team. Their win over Rhode Island was their first win over a Top 25 team since the NCAA Tournament victory over Ole Miss.
Valpo will keep Kentucky guessing. They switch back-and-forth between zone and man-to-man. The best way to counter their defense is by doing what the Cats do best: penetrate. People think you have to shoot teams out of a zone, but shooting threes is exactly what they want you to do. If Kentucky can still drive against their zone, it’ll be a long day for the Crusaders.
The World’s Tallest Team
The World’s Tallest Team wasn’t just one team, it was a collection of Valpo teams during WWII. Head coach Loren Ellis recruited players that were too tall to be draft eligible, most notably the 6’10” Warnke twins. They defeated No. 1 DePaul in 1943, holding George Mikan to only 9 points. Their signature win was a victory over Long Island University in the 1944-45 season at Madison Square Garden. You can read more here.
UK and Valpo’s Second Meeting
The two met in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. The Cats won 83-68 behind 21 points and 6 rebounds from Keith Bogans. Tayshaun Prince scored 13 and Jules Camara had 11 in the 15-point victory. The Cats’ season ended a week later with a loss in the Sweet 16 to Juan Dixon and Steve Blake’s Maryland Terrapins, the eventual National Champions.