Valparaiso Men's Basketball 2016 NIT Tournament Capsule

Valparaiso Crusaders
Horizon (26-6, 16-2)
Valparaiso has reached the postseason for the sixth straight season, but this might be the best Crusaders team during that stretch. Most expected Valparaiso to remain one of the best teams in the Horizon League, and they did not disappoint. A win over Oregon State highlights an otherwise predictable nonconference slate, but in that same road trip the Crusaders hung right in there with Oregon too. 
Big Wins: 11/13 Fort Wayne (78-64), 11/24 at Oregon State (63-57), 12/3 Belmont (61-57)
Bad Losses: 11/28 at Ball State (66-69), 1/22 at Wright State (62-73), 2/13 Wright State (59-61)
Coach: Bryce Drew
Why They Can Surprise:
And hanging around is what this team does so well. Valparaiso has one of the best scoring defenses in the country. Part of that is due to tempo, but this team plays tough straight up defense on every play. Having 6-10, 260 pound center Vashil Fernandez hanging out in the paint helps. The senior blocks 3.1 shots per game and it is never easy to score in the paint when Fernandez is there. He is not a great scorer, but he is one of the reasons why Valpo is a great rebounding team. Fernandez averages 7.4 rebounds per game, second to only Alec Peters on the team. Peters, a 6-9 junior, is a great rebounder and a very versatile scorer. He can bang around in the paint, but he is also a great three-point shooter. Speaking of three-point shooting, point guard Keith Carter and off-guard Darien Walker are the other two main outside shooting threats. Carter also dishes out 4.4 assists per game and averages 1.6 steals.
Why They Can Disappoint:
This is a Valparaiso team that can give power conference teams trouble. They are big on the perimeter, most notably with wings Shane Hammink and E. Victor Nickerson. Hammink is a very interesting player since the 6-7 guard can handle the ball extremely well. Valpo also has a potentially big time scoring threat in Tevonn Walker. He is not a particularly consistent shooter, but he can attack the basket effectively. When Valparaiso loses, it is often because of turnovers and poor shot selection. Valparaiso certainly has shooters and wants to take three-pointers, but they have a habit of forcing those three-pointers, especially when they are behind. Sometimes it works and gets the Crusaders back into a game, but sometimes it looks like Coach Bryce Drew’s team is forcing a few too many shots when they still have time to stick to their game plan.
Probable Starters:
Keith Carter, Senior, Guard, 9.9 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 spg
Tevonn Walker, Sophomore, Guard, 9.6 ppg, 1.8 apg
Shane Hammink, Junior, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 1.6 apg
Alec Peters, Junior, Forward, 18.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg
Vashil Fernandez, Senior, Center, 5.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.1 bpg
Key Roleplayers:
Jubril Adekoya, Junior, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg
David Skara, Sophomore, Forward, 6.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg
E. Victor Nickerson, Senior, Forward, 4.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Darien Walker, Senior, Guard, 8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.3 (126th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.0 (6, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (163, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 37.8 (3, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (78, 3)   
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (91, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.2 (82, 3)
Rebound Margin:  9.8 (7, 1)
Assists Per Game:  13.9 (131, 5)
Turnovers Per Game:  12.8 (188, 6)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2015    NCAA Second Round loss to Maryland
2014    CIT      First Round loss to Columbia
2013    NCAA Second Round loss to Michigan State
2012    NIT      First Round loss to Miami
2011    CIT      First Round loss to Iona
2008    CBI      First Round win over Washington
2008    CBI      Second Round loss to Houston
2004    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Gonzaga
2003    NIT      Opening round loss to Iowa
2002    NCAA Round of 64 loss Kentucky
*all team stats through 3/6