#67 Valparaiso Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Valparaiso Crusaders

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #67
Conference Rank: #1 Horizon

Valparaiso Team Page#67 Valparaiso Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Valparaiso Basketball Tickets

Valparaiso has the chance to be a very good team this season. The Crusaders return all but one contributor from last season’s 28-6 team and bring in some talented newcomers. Last year, the Crusader’s won the Horizon League Tournament before dropping a hard fought contest with Maryland in the NCAA Tournament 65-62.

2014-15 Record: 28-6, 15-5
2014-15 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bryce Drew
Coach Record: 94-42 at Valparaiso, 94-42 overall

Who’s Out:
With reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Vashil Fernandez being granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA, the only player departing for the Crusaders is forward David Chadwick. Chadwick played in 12 games a year ago and averaged 2.3 points per game.

Who’s In:
Three newcomers enter for Valparaiso, led by LSU transfer Shane Hammink. A 6-foot-7 guard, Hammink played in 47 games during his two years at LSU and has been a regular for the Netherlands youth national teams. Hammink figures to see time in the backcourt this season, but how much is yet to bee seen, as all five starters return, as does guard Lexus Williams, a former Horizon League All-Freshman Team member who missed last season with a knee injury. Freshman center Derrik Smits is another newcomer who has the chance to see some time this season. Standing 7-foot-1, Smits has the size to make an impact with the Crusaders, but playing time could be limited with Fernandez returning at the center spot. UMKC transfer Chandler Levingston Simon rounds out the newcomers and will likely be a reserve this season.

Who to Watch:
Drew has the luxury of not only having his whole starting five return, but the majority of his bench players as well. All league first team forward Alec Peters is back after leading the team in scoring, 16.8 points per game, rebounding, 6.7 per game, free throw percentage, just under 83 percent, and three point shooting, 86 makes and 46.6 percent made, last season. He will be joined in the lineup by Fernandez, who averaged 6.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game last season, and a pair of guards in Darien and Tevonn Walker, who both averaged double figures in scoring. Senior Keith Carter ran the point last season and should again this season. The former runner-up for Illinois Mr. Basketball led the team with 3.7 assists per game. Lexus Williams is back after an ACL tear before last season and should be a contributor in the backcourt after averaging 6.5 points and 2.4 assists per game two years ago as a freshman. E. Victor Nickerson and Jubril Adekoya are also in the mix for minutes. Nickerson started 17 games in 2014-2015 and averaged 6.2 points per game, while Adekoya averaged 4.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game en route to winning the 6th man of the year award in the Horizon League. Drew could easily end up having 10 players in his rotation this year, as sophomore forward David Skara returns after averaging 5.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in just under 20 minutes per game last season. Guards Max Joseph and Nick Davidson also return, but there might not be many minutes for them with Williams returning and Hammink becoming eligible.

Final Projection:
Peters is on the verge of becoming a star in college basketball this season, but this team is far from a one-man show. The Crusaders went deep into their bench a year ago and played stingy defense, ranking in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. Coming off a very successful season with nearly everyone back, it would be reasonable to expect little to change. In his fifth season at the helm, Drew looks to have Valparaiso poised to make a run in the NCAA tournament, something that hasn’t been done since 1998 when Drew led the team to the Sweet 16 as a player.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Keith Carter, Senior, Guard, 8.4 points per game
Tevonn Walker, Sophomore, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Darien Walker, Senior, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Alec Peters, Junior, Forward 16.8 points per game
Vashil Fernandez, Senior, Forward, 5.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.6 (110th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.4 (17, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.6 (73, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.2 (6, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (104, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (43, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.5 (237, 8)
Rebound Margin: 6.9 (13, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.0 (143, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (164, 6)


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