Bryce Drew is best known for his iconic buzzer-beater to lead Valparaiso over Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA tournament, but now he's trying to make a name for himself in the coaching profession. Drew took over the Valpo program from his father, Homer, in 2011. In the two years that he's been the head coach, his teams have won 48 games and two regular season Horizon League titles, as well as a conference tournament title this season that locked up an NCAA bid.
No member of the current Valparaiso roster has played in an NCAA Tournament game — the program hasn't been in the NCAAs since 2004. But Drew's team is loaded with upperclassmen and is good enough to surprise some opponents when the tournament gets underway. Valpo is one of those double-digit seeds that could make somebody very unhappy come Thursday or Friday.
Six seniors play a major part in Valparaiso's rotation, and a couple of juniors have roles, as well. Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk lead the team in scoring with averages of 15.9 points and 12.7 points. Van Wilk is a 6'8 forward who has made 65.3 percent of his two-point field goal attempts this year, and he rebounds well at both ends of the floor. Broekhoff, a guard, is shooting 43.2 percent from three-point range.
As a team, the Crusaders are making 56.1 percent of their two-point attempts and 37.5 percent of their threes, which makes them a dangerous group to face in the tournament. They've also done a pretty good job defending the interior, despite a relative lack of size.
All things considered, this is probably the best chance Valparaiso has had to pull off an upset or two since Drew was a player. If the program does have a little more magic in it, Drew may begin to catch the attention of some major-conference schools. He's just 38 years old, and this is only his second year as a head coach at the Division I-A level, but if he proves that he can sustain a top-tier program in the Horizon League, Valparaiso doesn't figure to be his last coaching stop.