VALPARAISO | As if suffering through his worst game in a Valparaiso uniform wasn’t bad enough, Alec Peters was given a few extra days to think about it this week.
The runaway favorite for Horizon League Freshman of the Year was limited to three points and had six turnovers in last Sunday’s 90-62 loss against Central Florida.
While players departed to every part of the country after the game, the loss hung over Peters’ mind through the Christmas holiday as he struggled to come to grips with a game where nothing went right.
“It was one of those feelings that we hope to never have again,” Peters said. “We had three days off and it was three days where we couldn’t get back on the court and get rid of that feeling. It was great to be home for Christmas with the family, but now it’s time to go back and get better.”
The Crusaders (8-6) will look to turn things around this afternoon against East Tennessee State. The team returned to campus on Thursday and rather than jump right in with the Buccaneers, third-year head coach Bryce Drew wanted to make sure his squad learned something from the UCF debacle.
“We watched a significant part of the film,” Drew said. “Given that we have a less experienced team, we wanted to turn this into a learning experience. This will be a good lesson for conference because we’re going to play eight teams at least twice if not some of them three times.”
Valparaiso beat the Knights at home earlier this season before falling on the road. Road woes have been a problem for the Crusaders this season as they are just 1-4 away from the Athletics-Recreation Center; a mark that hangs heavily over the team.
“We’re looking for a bounce back and we’re really looking to get another road win,” Peters said. “We need to continue to add to our win column and we need to learn how to do it away from home.”
Drew has shown over three years of coaching Valparaiso that he isn’t one to make excuses when the Crusaders play poorly and he didn’t pin Sunday’s loss to the Knights on the unfamiliarity of having Keith Carter on the floor. Drew did remark that the non-conference season is one part of the process as the youthful team continues to gel throughout the season.
“We’re still learning our rotations and which guys play well with each other,” Drew said. “We had that pretty much figured out and now we’re doing it with Keith. I don’t think we’re there yet and I don’t think we’ll necessarily be there after the next game. It’s definitely a process.”