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COLLEGE COACH: PREVIEW Q&A's

College Preview | Top 144 Previews | More Interviews

By Shawn Siegel

shawn@collegehoops.net

July 10th, 2006

 

IUPUI: Ron Hunter

 

Ron Hunter wants to taste the NCAA Tournament again. Since IUPUI made the big dance in 02-03, the Jaguars have been consistently good, but yet have to get back in.  Coming of a Mid-Con regular season title and with an impressive crop of incoming players, this could be the year the Jaguars get over the hump.

 

***


CHN: Looking ahead, what should we expect to be the strengths and weaknesses of this years team?


RH:  This year, we should be deeper and more athletic than we were a year ago. We bring back four of our five starters and our backcourt of David Barlow and George Hill gives us a pair of All-Conference caliber guards. We should be able to really get up and down the floor and make things happen at both ends of the court. My only concern going in is that we need to find someone who can score down low. Angelo (Smith) should be even better this year and Bill (Van Senus), Drew (Conner) and (newcomer) Fred (Kounkorgo) should give us more of a frontcourt presence.


 

CHN: Fans often just see what happens during the games, but talk about which of your guys deserve more credit for working hard in practice, in the workout room, and being leaders off the court:

 

RH:  Our whole team really works hard in the weight room and makes an effort to improve everyday. David (Barlow) and George (Hill) have really stepped up their leadership roles in the past year. Last year, our leadership was a little lacking. Everyone on our team really looks up to David and Angelo (Smith), so they both embrace that leadership role.
 

 

CHN: Discuss the incoming guys for a bit. Who will make the biggest impact?

RH:  We really like our newcomers this year, and we think they more than compensate from the players we lost last year. Three kids we had in practice this year should be ready to make their impact for us. Gary Patterson (Butler transfer) is a dynamite point guard and just does a lot of things right. He is going to be an absolute stud in our program. Austin Montgomery (Bowling Green transfer) is a very good offensive player. He can shoot the three and is very creative with his mid-range game. Andy Hampton (redshirt freshman) had a rough first year because of injuries, but hes going to be a strong players. Hes really athletic and can finish inside of 15 feet. The more he learns defensively, the more hell contribute.

 

We have a pair of junior college kids and a true freshman that were going to lean pretty heavily on. Fred Kounkorgo is going to be a great player in our league. Hes 6-foot-6, can jump out of the gym and is strong around the rim. Were excited that were going to have him for the next three years. Hamish (Mickouiza) needs some development, but he could be a rare asset for us. He runs the floor like a gazelle at 6-foot-10, and he prides himself on defense. Even though hes only played organized basketball for two years, hes got a lot of upside. Finally, Billy (Pettiford) should develop into a nice player. Hes a very skilled player for his size. Hes a great passer and is pretty athletic. We dont need him to step in right away, so hell have plenty of time to develop.

 

 

CHN: How hard will it be to replace the outgoing seniors? Who is ready to step up their game instead?

 

RH:  Brandon Cole will obviously be the hardest to replace. Hes been a rock in our program and all weve done is win since he arrived on campus. We can make up his 15 points and seven rebounds per game, but just his clutch play is going to be hard to replace. Replacing a kid like Maushae Byles is the same way. He loved playing in the big games. Despite his bad knee, he had huge games in wins at Valpo and against Oral Roberts last year. Thats the kind of kid he was. Hopefully, George and David will become the big game players for us now.

 

CHN: What other coaches really helped you reach the level of success youre at now?  How does their advice and teachings still help you to this day?

RH:  A lot of different people have helped me along the way. My parents really pushed me to be the best and were supportive in everything that I wanted to do. In the coaching ranks, Ive made a lot of friends that act as a support system. (Former Indiana and current UAB head coach) Mike Davis is one of my best friends. He and I have been there for each other for all the bumps in the road. Greg Kampe (Oakland) is another one of my good friends. Hes been doing this for a long time and took a similar path, going from (NCAA) Division II to I. Hes always been a great help to me. Some of the others who helped me along the way were (former Purdue coach) Gene Keady and (former Ball State and Houston coach) Ray McCallum.



CHN:
What are your realistic goals and hopes for this season?


RH:  We really want to get back to the (NCAA) Tournament. We havent been since 2003. We won a regular season championship last year, and we really want to build on that. Our program is on the upswing we just need to cap it off by getting to the tournament. 20 wins and a new banner on the wall at the end of this season will make me really happy.

 

CHN: Thanks for your time Ron.

                                       

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