IUPUI, located in downtown Indianapolis, plays the majority of their games in what’s known as “The Jungle,” although this season they’ve partnered with the Pacers to play four games at Conseco Fieldhouse. With a wealth of experienced, explosive talent, expectations are very high for the Jaguars entering the 2009-2010 season.
IUPUI finished a game above .500 with 16 wins and 14 losses. A midseason swoon left the team headed for a disappointing season, but head coach Ron Hunter made some nice lineup adjustments, and the Jaguars rallied to win seven of their last 10 games. They finished fourth in the Summit League with a 9-9 record, but fell to Southern Utah in the first round of the league tournament.
The non-conference schedule features five teams (Auburn, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Memphis and Duquesne) that played in a postseason tournament last season, along with in-state games against Indiana State, IU East, and IU South Bend. IUPUI takes on Drake in their season opener at the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Des Moines, Iowa on November 14.
The Jaguars return nearly their entire team, but unfortunately two of the losses were starters. Gary Patterson led the team in minutes with over 35 a game, and while he didn’t have eye-opening stats, he was the point guard and leader of the team. Filling Patterson’s void will be the key for IUPUI’s success this season. Starting shooting guard Adrian Moss from Franklin Community High School, will also be MIA in the Jags backcourt this year. Moss was set to enter his junior season, and not much has been reported on his absence. His offensive production can be replaced, but IUPUI could have used his experience at the guard position.
The expectations of filling Patterson’s shoes fall on the shoulders of prized recruit Greg Rice. Rice was a two star standout at Indianapolis’ Ben Davis High School, averaging 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists on the hardwood, and ranking as one of the top quarterbacks in the state of Indiana during his senior season. The 5’11” point guard was the first man off the bench in IUPUI’s exhibition game, and he’ll be relied on to handle a good portion of the PG workload.
Sean Esposito is a redshirt freshman out of Indianapolis who averaged 19 points a game in his senior season. Esposito attended Indiana University his freshman year, but didn’t play basketball. He’s a three-point specialist who could find some playing time off the bench.
The Jaguars frontcourt is led by Robert Glenn, a preseason Summit League
first teamer. The athletic forward was voted the Newcomer of the Year in the league last year, and led IUPUI in scoring (13.9), and blocked shots (50). Alex Young, a 6’6” forward/guard out of Indianapolis Northwest High School, was named to the Mid-Major Freshman All-American team last season. The former IPS Player of the Year averaged 10.8 points a game in his debut campaign, and showed the ability to extend defenses.
Jon Avery’s a bruiser who set the school record by shooting 67 percent from the field in 2008-09. He’ll be counted on to play significant minutes off the bench. Billy Pettiford has been in the starting lineup during the exhibition schedule, and contributed 11 points, seven assists, and six rebounds in the Jaguars victory over St. Joseph’s College. Christian Siakam’s a raw athlete who can provide a defensive presence on the interior.
Ron Hunter’s main concern is finding a point guard to competently run his offense. He’s been starting Franklin Central grad John Ashworth at the position in the preseason, but it’s clear that Greg Rice’s quickness and play making ability is a major asset to the team. Look for him to supplant Ashworth as the starter before Christmas break.
Leroy Nobles is an athletic swingman in the mold of teammate Alex Young. Nobles averaged 9.9 points and 3.5 boards while leading the team with a 41.7 three-point percentage. He’ll rotate between the shooting guard and small forward positions for coach Hunter. Sean Esposito will provide some shooting depth off the bench.
The non-conference schedule is a tough one for IUPUI, but it should be instrumental in preparing the ultra-athletic Jaguars for Summit League play. Many Indianapolis media outlets are predicting the Jags will compete for the league crown with last year’s champs Oakland, and assuming the point guard situation gets figured out, there’s a good possibility that Indianapolis sports fans could be seeing IUPUI in the NCAA tournament in March.
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