VALPARAISO | There is no elephant in the room when it comes to Alec Peters and his recent struggles with the Valparaiso men’s basketball team.
The freshman forward is well-aware that he has been mired in a slump that, with the exception of a 30-point performance against Loyola Marymount on Dec. 14, has been going on for nearly six weeks.
Peters burst onto the scene early in the year and had six straight double-figure games, including a 30-point breakout performance in a non-conference loss at Evansville on Nov. 20. The big scoring outputs have been replaced of late by frustrating near-misses and stretches of inconsistent play befitting of a player his age.
“No doubt I’m in a little slump right now,” Peters said. “I need to keep putting in the extra work. I’m not going to stop shooting (in games). The shots I’ve been missing have been in-and-out. I know they’ll get there.”
Peters averaged 16.8 points over the first seven D1 games of the season and that number has fallen to 9.8 points over the last nine D1 games, including a zero-point output against Detroit on Wednesday night. Of Peters’ nine D1 double-figures scoring games, five have come in loses.
“Scoring 30 points in a loss is far worse than scoring zero points in a conference road win,” Peters said.
There is little mystery as to the root of Peters’ slump: defenses are finally focusing on the freshman. Valparaiso was a blank canvas when the season began and opposing teams had little tape to go on when compiling a scouting report. Now that Peters has shown his skillset, particularly his baseline 3-point shot, defenses are keying in and Peters is taking quicker action when he's open. This has led to forced shots that ultimately are proving to be low percentage attempts.
“Teams are starting to key on me, but that’s only opening up opportunities for other guys,” Peters said. “If my guy is staying with me on the perimeter, now our guards have the opportunity to drive by and get to the basket.”
Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew has praised the freshman’s effort throughout the season and has shown no indication that he is ready to pull Peters from the starting lineup.
While Peters may not be scoring like he was earlier this season, he’s beginning to find other ways to help the team. His energy helped spark a comeback at the beginning of the second half against Wright State and then he added three assists against the Titans, equaling his total from the previous five games.
Whether or not Peters has hit the “freshman wall” is up for debate, but he seems eager to put his struggles behind him and use the Detroit game, and the practices leading up to it, as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“Our practices have definitely been amped up as of late and we need to carry that over to the games,” Peters said. “The more and more we practice together, the more we’re learning how to come together and come out better. We’ve been high energy the last week and we’re hoping we can continue that on Saturday.”