2007-08 IUPUI Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #114
Conference Rank: #1 Summit
2006-07: 15-15, 7-7, 4th
2006-07 postseason: none
Eleven players started at least three games for IUPUI last season. The lack of consistency was in large part due to injuries and academic issues, but Coach Ron Hunter will be hoping to avoid such problems this year. After all-conference honoree George Hill went down with a broken foot in the second game of the season, the Jaguars were in trouble. Hill came back for a few more games, but ended up sitting out all but five games of the season. Hill, who averaged 18.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals two years ago, is healthy again and will not just be the star of the team, but the star of the entire conference.
David Barlow and Angelo Smith were the only two players to start all 30 games last season. Barlow, a smart and efficient point guard, was a great scorer as well. Smith was by far the best interior scorer and rebounder on the team and he is the one IUPUI will struggle to replace. Guard Matt Burks earned eight starts during his senior season and averaged 5.0 points per game.
Rebounding is a concern for the Jags, but Christian Siakam should answer some of those concerns. The 6-7 forward is a hard worker in the paint and will not let a loose ball go by him without making a strong effort to grab it. Wing LeRoy Noble is a good athlete who will spend most of his time driving to the basket. Once he develops a more consistent jump shot, Noble will be a great player for IUPUI. Brandon Ray, a transfer from Franklin College, will add some more depth on the wings. One of the main priorities for the team was finding a point guard of the future. Instead, they found two. John Ashworth, who originally signed with Indiana State, is a smart playmaker. The 6-3 freshman will look for his teammates first, but can do a little bit of scoring. Adrian Moss needs to add some more muscle to his 5-9, 155 pound frame, but that does not stop him from getting to the basket. Moss was a great scorer in high school, but it will be more difficult for him to find space at this level. What the two point guards have in common is heart and hustle and both are expected to be quality team leaders once they learn the ropes of playing in the Summit League.
Who to Watch:
The best player on the team is Hill, but the most important may end up to be Gary Patterson. The 5-10 point guard is a great long range shooter and a smart playmaker, who ended the season with a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio during 2006-2007. If Patterson can continue with those numbers as an upperclassmen, IUPUI is in good hands. Austin Montgomery is a shooter; there is no doubt about that. But the 6-5 senior will do so much more. Montgomery will use his toughness to grab more rebounds than he should and, for a team that lacks size up front, it will be extremely important for the perimeter to help on the glass. And with Montgomery and Hill, the frontcourt will get plenty of assistance.
Fred Kounkorgo was academically ineligible after the semester break and only saw action in nine games last year. Yet, the 6-6 forward showed flashes of what was to come in those nine games. With at least part of a year under his belt, Kounkorgo should be more comfortable in Indianapolis and it appears he has finally found a home after spending time at Hartford and Connors State in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Finding some help for Kounkorgo up front is the biggest problem facing IUPUI this year. Jon Avery and Billy Pettiford are not the typical bruisers one would hope to have managing the center position, but both are continuing to develop their games and do what is necessary to help the team. Avery is a little more effective at putting the ball in the basket, but it is Pettiford who will help out more on the glass. It would be nice if somebody could do both, but Coach Hunter will use both players at the five spot. Drew Conner, a 6-5 forward, was slowed by a knee injury for part of the 2006-2007 season, but did start the last three contests of the season. He may not keep that starting spot, but will see some quality minutes at power forward.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Gary Patterson, Junior, Guard, 11.4 points per game
George Hill, Senior, Guard, 14.6 points per game
Austin Montgomery, Senior, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Drew Connor, Senior, Forward, 2.9 points per game
Billy Pettiford, Sophomore, Forward, 3.0 points per game