|Head coach||Matt Lottich (3rd season)|
|Arena||Athletics-Recreation Center |
|Colors||Brown and Gold|
|NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen|
|NCAA Tournament Round of 32|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances|
|1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2013, 2015|
|Conference Tournament Champions|
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004
|Conference Regular Season Champions|
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
Butler 41, Valparaiso 25
|Latest meeting||March 3, 2012|
Valparaiso 65, Butler 46
|All-time series||Butler leads, 67-36|
|Largest victory||Valparaiso, 85-49 (1945-46)|
|Longest win streak||Butler, 15 (1957-1964)|
|Current win streak||Valparaiso: 4 wins (2011-12)|
The Valparaiso Crusaders men's basketball team represents Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. The basketball team competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, having joined that league in 2017 after 10 seasons in the Horizon League. The Crusaders play in the Athletics-Recreation Center, which has a nominal capacity of 5,432. The record capacity 5,444 was reached on March 23, 2016 in the NIT Quarterfinal. The team last played in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 2015.
The Crusaders' first game was in 1917 as an independent school.
Valpo's "World's Tallest Team" was actually a collection of teams that gained Valparaiso national recognition during World War II and began in 1942 when a pair of Michigan City, Indiana brothers, Don and Wally Warnke, joined Valpo when their high school coach, Loren Ellis, was hired as head coach. At 6'10" tall, the Warnke brothers were ineligible to be drafted into the service. Ellis found several other tall players, including Milt Schoon. Valparaiso did well the Warnke brothers before Wally was able to enlist and fight in World War II. In 1943, his brother, Don, stayed and was joined by a group of newcomers, including Schoon, Bob Dillie, John Janisch and Alvin Schmidt, as they finished with 17 wins including a win over No. 1 DePaul where Schoon held George Mikan to nine points.
Warnke would graduate following the season, but would return as an assistant coach and later the head coach after Ellis left. In the 1944-45 season. The team won its first 11 games, including a program-defining victory over Long Island at Madison Square Garden. Despite finishing 21-3 on the season, the Crusaders were held out of the National Invitation Tournament, with their spot likely going to Midwest powers DePaul and/or Bowling Green.
The iconic photograph of Valparaiso's players standing outside Madison Square Garden is displayed just outside the Athletics-Recreation Center court to this day. The team was inducted into the Valparaiso University Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 1964, Gene Bartow took over as head coach at Valpo and led the Crusaders to their greatest stretch of basketball in school history. They would advance to the Elite Eight that season before losing to Sacramento State. In 1966, the Crusaders returned to the NCAA Division II Tournament, losing in the Regional semifinals.
In 1967, Valpo returned to the NCAA Division II Tournament, beating Southern Colorado (now Colorado State-Pueblo) and again advancing to the Elite Eight before losing to Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State). In 1969, they hosted a Division II NCAA Tournament game for the first time, beating Concordia (IL) before losing to Illinois State.
In 1970, Bartow would leave Valpo to coach Memphis State. In 1973 under Bill Purden, the Crusaders notched their final appearance in the Division II Tournament, advancing to the Regional finals before losing to Kentucky Wesleyan.
The Crusaders joined Division I before the 1978-79 season. After four years as an independent, they became charter members of the Association of Mid-Continent Universities, which would go on to be known as the Mid-Continent Conference before becoming The Summit League. Valpo struggled mightily in their early years of Division I play, never having a winning record until 1994.
In 1988, Homer Drew took the job as head coach. That first season included a win over 19th-ranked Notre Dame in a game that came to be known as "The Lutheran Miracle." After struggiling early under coach Homer Drew, the Crusaders became a conference power beginning with the 1993-94 season where they finished second. The Crusaders won their first Mid-Continent championship in 1995, led by star player Bryce Drew. However, the team was not invited to the NCAA Tournament. The Crusaders won the 1996 conference championship and received their first invitation to the Division I NCAA Tournament. In the 1998 Tournament, the Crusaders won their only Tournament games, defeating Ole Miss on a last second shot by Bryce Drew. The shot would go on to be an iconic play in NCAA Tournament history. The Crusaders won their second round game against Florida State before losing in the Sweet Sixteen to Rhode Island.
The Crusaders won the Mid-Continent Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament every year from 1996 through 2000. In 2001, though the Crusaders won the regular season championship, they lost to Southern Utah in the conference tournament. Valpo returned to the NCAA Tournament the following year, losing to Kentucky in the First Round. Homer Drew resigned the following season and his son, Scott Drew, an eight-year assistant under his father, was named head coach.
Scott would lead the Crusaders to another regular season championship, but failed to win the conference tournament and settled for an NIT appearance. After one year as head coach, Scott was hired to take over as coach at Baylor following that school's basketball scandal. Homer Drew returned to coach the team to the NCAA Tournament again in 2004. In 2007, Valparaiso became a member of the Horizon League.
The Crusaders played in the title game of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament every year between 1995 and 2004. After three more years as head coach, Drew resigned again and his son and former Valpo star Bryce Drew was named head coach. In five years as coach for the Crusaders, Bryce led them to a postseason appearance every year, including the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and 2015. Following the 2016 season, Bryce was hired to take over at Vanderbilt.
Under Homer, Scott, and Bryce Drew, the Crusaders won 13 regular season conference championships and 10 conference tournament championships. The Crusaders appeared in nine NCAA Tournaments, three NITs, two CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournaments, and one College Basketball Invitational in 26 years.
On April 7, 2016, the school promoted former assistant coach Matt Lottich to the head coach position following Bryce Drew accepting the head coaching position at Vanderbilt on April 6, 2016. For the first time since 1988, a Drew was not the head coach at Valpo. In Lottich's first season, the Crusaders earned a share of the Horizon League regular season championship, but lost in the Horizon League Tournament. They received a bid to the NIT where they lost in the first round.
Following the season, Valparaiso agreed to join the Missouri Valley Conference after 10 years as a member of the Horizon League. The Crusaders were invited to replace Wichita State which left the league to join the American Athletic Conference.
|Sidney Winters (Independent) (1917-1919)|
|Sidney Winters:||8-4 (.667)|
|George Koegan (Independent) (1919-1921)|
|George Keogan:||31-13 (.705)|
|Earl Goheen (Independent) (1921-1923)|
|Earl Goheen:||30-12 (.714)|
|William Shadoan (Independent) (1923-1925)|
|William Shadoan:||33-9 (.786)|
|Millard Anderson (Independent) (1925-1926)|
|Millard Anderson:||6-13 (.316)|
|Conrad Moll (Independent) (1926-1927)|
|Conrad Moll:||10-10 (.500)|
|Earl Scott (Independent) (1927-1929)|
|Earl Scott:||22-14 (.611)|
|Jake Christiansen (Independent) (1929-1941)|
|Jake Christiansen:||102-108 (.486)|
|Loren Ellis (Independent) (1941-1947)|
|Loren Ellis:||87-60 (.592)|
|Emory Bauer (Independent) (1947-1948)|
|Emory Bauer:||8-15 (.348)|
|Don Warnke (Independent) (1948-1949)|
|Don Warnke:||8-17 (.320)|
|Sonny Allen (Independent) (1949-1951)|
|Sonny Allen (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1951-1952)|
|Sonny Allen:||27-18 (.600)||5-3 (.625)|
|Kenneth Suesens (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1951-1958)|
|Kenneth Suesens:||74-93 (.443)||41-88 (.318)|
|Paul Meadows (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1958-1964)|
|1961-62||Valparaiso||17-8||7-5||3rd||NCAA Elite Eight|
|Paul Meadows:||64-79 (.448)||26-46 (.361)|
|Gene Bartow (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1964-1970)|
|1965-66||Valparaiso||18-10||7-5||4th||NCAA Regional finals|
|1966-67||Valparaiso||21-8||7-5||2nd||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1968-69||Valparaiso||16-12||4-4||T-2nd||NCAA Regional finals|
|Gene Bartow:||91-70 (.565)||28-36 (.438)|
|Bill Purden (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1970-1976)|
|1972-73||Valparaiso||17-11||8-4||T-1st||NCAA Regional finals|
|Bill Purden:||86-71 (.548)||39-25 (.609)|
|Ken Rochlitz (Indiana Collegiate Conference) (1976-1978)|
|Ken Rochlitz (Division I Independent) (1978-1980)|
|Ken Rochlitz:||31-70 (.307)||6-9 (.400)|
|Tom Smith (Division I Independent) (1980-1982)|
|Tom Smith (Association of Mid-Continent Universities) (1982-1988)|
|Tom Smith:||84-138 (.378)||20-49 (.290)|
|Homer Drew (Association of Mid-Continent Universities/Mid-Continent Conference) (1988-2002)|
|1995-96||Valparaiso||22-10||13-5||1st||NCAA First Round|
|1996-97||Valparaiso||24-7||13-3||1st||NCAA First Round|
|1997-98||Valparaiso||23-10||13-3||1st||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|1998-99||Valparaiso||23-9||10-4||T-1st||NCAA First Round|
|1999-2000||Valparaiso||19-13||10-6||T-2nd||NCAA First Round|
|2001-02||Valparaiso||25-8||12-2||1st||NCAA First Round|
|Scott Drew (Mid-Continent Conference) (2002-2003)|
|2002-03||Valparaiso||20-11||12-2||1st||NIT first round|
|Scott Drew:||20-11 (.645)||12-2 (.857)|
|Homer Drew (Mid-Continent Conference) (2003-2007)|
|2003-04||Valparaiso||18-13||11-5||1st||NCAA First Round|
|Homer Drew (Horizon League) (2007-2011)|
|2007-08||Valparaiso||22-14||9-9||4th||CBI second round|
|2010-11||Valparaiso||23-12||12-6||4th||CollegeInsider.com first round|
|Homer Drew:||370-306 (.547)||159-95 (.626)|
|Bryce Drew (Horizon League) (2011-2016)|
|2011-12||Valparaiso||22-12||14-4||1st||NIT first round|
|2012-13||Valparaiso||26-8||13-3||1st||NCAA Second Round|
|2013-14||Valparaiso||18-16||9-7||4th||CollegeInsider.com first round|
|2014-15||Valparaiso||28-6||13-3||1st||NCAA Second Round|
|Bryce Drew:||124-49 (.717)||65-19 (.774)|
|Matt Lottich (Horizon League) (2016-2017)|
|2016-17||Valparaiso||24-9||14-4||T-1st||NIT first round|
|Matt Lottich (Missouri Valley Conference) (2017-present)|
|Matt Lottich:||54-44 (.551)||27-27 (.500)|
Postseason invitational champion
The Crusaders have appeared in nine NCAA Tournaments. Their combined record is 2-9.
|1996||No. 14||First Round||No. 3 Arizona||L 51-90|
|1997||No. 12||First Round||No. 5 Boston College||L 66-73|
|1998||No. 13||First Round
|No. 4 Ole Miss
No. 12 Florida State
No. 8 Rhode Island
|1999||No. 15||First Round||No.2 Maryland||L 60-82|
|2000||No. 16||First Round||No. 1 Michigan State||L 38-65|
|2002||No. 13||First Round||No. 4 Kentucky||L 68-83|
|2004||No. 15||First Round||No. 2 Gonzaga||L 49-76|
|2013||No. 14||Second Round||No. 3 Michigan State||L 54-65|
|2015||No. 13||Second Round||No. 4 Maryland||L 62-65|
The Crusaders have appeared in the NCAA Division II Tournament five times. Their combined record is 7-5.
The Crusaders have appeared in the NAIA Tournament two times. Their combined record is 1-2.
|1943||First Round||Eastern Washington||L 42-45|
The Crusaders have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) four times. Their combined record is 4-4.
|2003||Opening Round||Iowa||L 60-62|
|2012||First Round||Miami||L 50-66|
|2017||First Round||Illinois||L 57-82|
The Crusaders have appeared in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) one time. Their record is 1-1.
The Crusaders have appeared in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) two times. Their combined record is 0-2.
All Crusader games are broadcast for free on the Valparaiso website at valpoathletics.com. WVUR-FM, the student-run campus radio station, also broadcasts select Crusader games on 95.1 FM and on the station's website.
Two players have had their jerseys retired by the school.
|Valparaiso Crusaders retired jerseys|