Coach: Ron Hunter (249-194 at IUPUI, 249-194 overall)
A 9-9 conference record is not what IUPUI fans have come to expect. Yet, everybody knew the 2008-2009 campaign was going to be difficult after George Hill left early for the NBA. What he left behind was an extremely young team that still finished fourth in the conference and beat teams like Seton Hall and Indiana State. A year older and a year wiser, Coach Ron Hunter will have his Jaguars back in the mix for a Summit League title.
Key Losses: G Gary Patterson, G Larry Stone
But even if Rice is not ready to play, the Jaguars backcourt has plenty of talent, although a lack of depth. Adrian Moss is the likely candidate to take over for Patterson and take over the majority of the ball handling duties. He struggled with injuries through much of his sophomore campaign, but Moss still dished out 2.5 assists per game and only turned the ball over 1.5 times per contest. John Ashworth could work his way into the starting lineup if he can find his shot. Primarily the 6-3 junior is a shooter, but his shot was simply not falling last year. That could mean 6-5 wing Leroy Nobles will start at the two guard spot. Nobles averaged 9.9 points per game last year and shot nearly 42 percent from beyond the arc.
Yet, it is in the frontcourt where the Jaguars have the most talent returning. Robert Glenn, Alex Young, Jon Avery and Billy Pettiford will all be battling for playing time in the frontcourt. Young could certainly play the small forward position, forcing Ashworth to the bench and that would turn this into a tall, athletic team. Young, as a freshman, hit one three-pointer per game and ranked second on the team with 10.8 points per game. Avery and Pettiford are both experienced 6-7 seniors. Avery is the better scorer of the two, but Pettiford will do a little bit of everything and even averaged 2.5 assists last year. His versatility will be a huge asset whether he comes in off the bench or starts.
Who’s In for IUPUI:
Eight players started at least ten games last year and Gary Patterson is the only one of them who has run out of eligibility. That leaves this recruiting class quite slim and guard Greg Rice is the only new face on the team. Ironically, the fact that his stepbrother Larry Stone opted to transfer after his freshman campaign could mean Rice will play a role on this team as a freshman.
Yet, the best player in the frontcourt is Robert Glenn. The 6-7 senior showed up at IUPUI from Wabash Valley Junior College and simply took over the team. He led the squad with 13.9 points and 1.7 blocks per contest and even added 5.4 rebounds. His presence under the basket made a huge difference on both ends of the floor and his aggressiveness, while occasionally resulting in foul trouble of his own, will get the opposition in even more trouble. And the best news regarding that is the fact that Glenn is a pretty good free-throw shooter.
Final 2009-2010 IUPUI Projection:
The frontcourt will be the best in the conference, but games are often won and lost based on the play of the backcourt. That will put pressure on the new point guard, most likely Moss, to control the tempo and get the big guys the ball. If he can do that and Nobles or Ashworth can consistently knock down the three-pointer, IUPUI will be difficult to stop. IUPUI will finish better than fourth in the conference this year and any mumblings of the one year rebuilding project can be forgotten.