VALPARAISO | Seth Davis was brought in by the Big Ten Network to talk about Wednesday's game against Illinois.
The Sports Illustrated reporter left the State Farm Center impressed with Valparaiso as the Crusaders held their own against the Illini in a closer-than-the-score-indicated 64-52 loss.
Davis, who has written several books and writes a weekly college basketball column for Sports Illustrated, shared his thoughts about the Crusaders with The Times of Northwest Indiana on Thursday evening.
"I thought (Valparaiso) played very well," Davis said. "I was struck by the fact that even though they have all these new players in new spots, they didn't get embarrassed. I especially like the fact that they got down by a big deficit but were able to claw back into the game. That's a good sign for this group."
Davis was impressed by Valparaiso's size and some of the coaching decisions that Bryce Drew made throughout the game.
"I spoke with Bryce after and we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of being so tall," Davis said. "I mean, those are some big dudes (Valparaiso) has. Not many teams in the game go that big. The problem is when you go against smaller teams with quicker players and then who wins that chess match? I think Valpo actually won the chess match because the mismatches Illinois tried to create never really happened."
Davis heaped praise on freshman Alec Peters. The Peoria native played his first collegiate road game a little more than an hour from his hometown and finished with seven points and three rebounds.
"Love Peters, just absolutely love him," Davis said. "He's a terrific Midwest kid for that program. The good thing about Peters is he doesn't have to carry the load himself. Nobody on the team is an overwhelming talent, so they have to do it by committee, but that's a pretty good committee they've got."
Davis wasn't the only national reporter to praise Drew and the Crusaders this week. ESPN's Andy Katz spoke highly of the third-year coach at the United Center while in town for the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.
"Bryce is definitely looked at as one of the up-and-coming young coaches in the country," Katz said. "
Katz established a relationship with the Drew family when he came to campus two years ago to produce a piece on Homer and Janet Drew's battle against cancer. The ESPN senior college basketball reporter is well-connected when it comes to the ever-spinning coaching carousel and he's kept a close eye on Drew, even mentioning Minnesota as a possible destination last spring before Richard Pitino took the job.
"It depends on what makes him happy and where he wants to go," Katz said. "I think he'll eventually graduate beyond Valparaiso and I'd think the fans there will understand that. No reason he couldn't be a Big Ten coach."