#109 IUPUI: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #109
Conference Rank: #2 Summit League
2009-10: 25-11, 11-3
2009-10 postseason: CBI
Coach: Ron Hunter (274-205 at IUPUI, 274-205 overall)
IUPUI made it back to the postseason again in 2009-2010 after finishing second in the Summit League. It was not the NCAA Tournament appearance they were hoping for, but a 25 win season is nothing to scoff at. This time around the Jaguars will have to find some new players to fill in at the frontcourt spots now that Jon Avery, Robert Glenn and Billy Pettiford are gone.
Key Losses: F Jon Avery, F Robert Glenn, F Billy Pettiford
This was a team that was frontcourt heavy last year, so this class helps to even things out a little bit. While the Jaguars need to find another big man, only two of the newcomers are forwards or centers. Donovan Gibbs, a 6-7 McDonald’s All-America nominee, could be ready to play a significant role on this team. At 6-9 and 245 pounds, fellow freshman Mitchell Patton is the future interior force at IUPUI. It may take him a little time to get his offensive game going, but Patton could be a good rebounder and shot blocker right away. The lone incoming freshman for the backcourt is shooting guard P.J. Hubert. He will likely have the luxury of learning from the sidelines for a year especially with the influx of perimeter depth added by Nick Kitcoff and Stephen Thomas. Kitcoff is a junior college transfer who redshirted last year and, at 6-7, has the size to be an interesting small forward. Thomas is a transfer from Dayton who never saw too much action with the Flyers, but has the potential to be a very talented scorer.
The star of the backcourt is John Ashworth. While the point guard did not do much scoring last season, he is a superb ballhandler and ended the 2009-2010 campaign with a 2.1 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. This year Coach Ron Hunter may have to get Ashworth more into a scoring mode. Ashworth is a capable outside shooter and he can drive the lane effectively, but now he may have to finish himself instead of always looking for one of his teammates first. Leroy Nobles will likely move from the two guard spot to the three spot due to lack of other options in the frontcourt. That leaves a hole at the shooting guard position that Greg Rice, Sean Esposito or one of the newcomers will need to fill. Rice only played in 11 games during his freshman campaign, but when he was healthy he was doing quite well. Esposito is also a sophomore and he has a little more playing time under his belt.
For about a year and a half Alex Young has been playing off of the success of Robert Glenn. He ranked second to Glenn in scoring as a freshman and sophomore. Now as an upperclassman he will have to do it on his own. However, late last season it became apparent that Young was not just successful because of Glenn and he was emerging as a star in his own right. That will become painfully obvious to Summit League opponents this season. Young, who averaged 18.3 points and 4.5 rebounds last season, is a superb outside shooter for a 6-6 forward and connected on two per game at nearly a 40 percent clip. Young may spend more time at the power forward position this year and his ability to hit the outside shot will really stretch out the opposing defense. The key now is to find a big man who can at least block some shots and hit the glass. That may end up being one of the newcomers, but Christian Siakam has been quietly sitting on the bench and it is time for the 6-7, 245 pound junior to show if he can play some real minutes.
Who to Watch:
Nobles will still be the shooter on the perimeter whether he starts at the two or three spot. He shot 42.2 percent from long range last year and against small two guards in the Summit League, the 6-5 senior had little trouble shooting over his defender. Nobles is also a solid rebounder and that will be very important early in the year while the frontcourt adjusts to their new look.
Coach Hunter has worked some miracles before, but this group has a couple holes to fill that will not be easily filled. Ashworth, Nobles and Young are a great trio to build around and those three will make sure IUPUI is in the conference title hunt, but some other players really need to step up if the Jaguars want to win the conference or make an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
John Ashworth, Senior, Guard, 4.5 ppg
Sean Esposito, Sophomore, Guard, 2.4 ppg
Leroy Nobles, Senior, Guard, 13.2 ppg
Alex Young, Junior, Forward, 18.3 ppg
Christian Siakam, Junior, Forward, 1.6 ppg
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