Countdown to Tip-Off: IUPUI Men

IUPUI's Ian Chiles
IUPUI's Ian Chiles

2012-13 COUNTDOWN TO TIP-OFF // thesummitleague.org // @summithoops

 



 

   IUPUI JAGUARS

 


2011-12 REVIEW

Overall Record: 14-18
Summit League Record (Finish): 7-11 (7th)
Postseason: Lost in Summit Quarterfinal

2012-13 QUICK GLANCE
Head Coach (Season): Todd Howard (2nd)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:
10/3
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3
Key Returnees:

Ian Chiles

  • Voted to the All-Newcomer Team after averaging 10.5 points and hitting 41.5 percent from three-point range
  • Started the final 28 games of the season and scored in double-digits 18 times. Closed the year by scoring in double-figures in 15 of the Jaguars' final 20 contests.
  • Despite being only 6-foot-1, was second on the team in blocked shots (19) and steals (38).
  • One of three Louisville, Ky.-natives on the IUPUI roster this season and attended the same high school (Ballard) as Head Coach Todd Howard.

Lyonell Gaines

  • Started 27 games as a freshman, marking the most starts by an IUPUI true freshman in the program's Division I era.
  • A year ago, averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, with more than half of his boards coming off the offensive glass

Sean Esposito

  • Represents IUPUI's lone four-year senior this season and is a 40 percent shooter from three-point range for his career.

Web Page: iupuijags.com

Twitter: @CoachToddHoward

SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL

Position: 5th
All-League Selections: Ian Chiles (2nd)

BLUE RIBBON COLLEGE BASKETBALL YEARBOOK
Forecast: 6th
Analysis Excerpts: 
"We had some tough stretches where it was not that we played poorly," Howard said. "Some games we lost literally at the buzzer. We played well enough to win and we were winning most of the game. One game we led wire-to-wire and the only lead they had was at the buzzer. That's tough to stomach, because I knew how hard we worked and how well we played.  We were better than our record indicated. I'm a believer that usually the bounces even out over the year, but we lost that by a landslide. Our bounces did not even out at all. I look over our games and the box scores, and I'm still looking for the first break we got."

Howard believes he now has a team better built for those situations even though he lost those three critical cogs from last year's group. He has three seniors and a much more significant core of juniors that saw extended playing time last year, and believes all of that makes this team stronger top to bottom.

The Jaguars find out quickly if they will be a better team without Young and with a more balanced approach. They play in the Michigan regional of the Preseason NIT and have a difficult slate of in-state non-conference games before conference play starts with cross-city foe Butler, Indiana State, Valparaiso and Ball State all on the schedule for the first time ever. They will also play a guarantee game at Maryland—facing an ACC foe for just the second time ever—and will host Bradley in a Bracket Buster rematch.

But with more juniors and players who have been through the wars, Howard thinks this team is more ready than his first.

"At this level you count on juniors and seniors and the freshmen and sophomores wait their turn," Howard said. "We didn't have as much of that last season. This year we do."

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the "bible" of preseason preview publications, is now in its 32nd printing. To see the complete version of this story, as well as 344 other profiles of Division I schools, order the 400-page 2012-13 edition at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or by calling 877-807-4857.

OTHER PRESEASON PROJECTIONS
Athlon Sports: 6th
CBSSports.com: 6th
Lindy's Sports: 5th
USA Today: 6th
Yahoo! Sports: 6th

SEASON OUTLOOK
courtesy IUPUI Sports Information

A season ago, head coach Todd Howard's first at the helm of the IUPUI basketball program, the Jaguars frequently seemed a tad snake bitten. A collection of singular miscues, missed calls and missed assignments helped turn some outcomes against the Jags and the collective result was a 14-18 overall mark. A missed free throw, missed block out or missed layup sometimes proved to be the tipping point for a team operating with a seemingly razor thin margin of error. Two of IUPUI's losses came on desperation shots at the buzzer and six more defeats came by five points or less. Flip half of those eight outcomes and you're coming off an 18-14 record and likely a postseason appearance. Flip six and it's a 20-win season.

Despite some misfortune, the season was filled with highs including a six-game winning streak in December that included wins over Western Kentucky, Ball State and Valparaiso. The Jaguars had wins over every team in The Summit League minus the regular season (Oral Roberts) and tournament (South Dakota State) champions. In addition, all three of last year's seniors have moved on the professional ranks overseas and scoring machine Alex Young had a stint with the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Summer League.

A year later, much of the personnel is the same but the Jaguars will also have a decidedly new look. Ten letterwinners return from last year's squad, but three of the team's top four scorers from a year ago are departed.

In what's the annual rite of passage in October, Howard and the IUPUI staff have already begun tweaking, retooling and rejuvenating in an effort to capture the 2013 Summit League crown.

GUARDS
As is the case with historically strong IUPUI squads, the impetus begins in the backcourt. The Jaguars' program boasts current NBAer George Hill among its alum and has always had talent at the guard positions.

This year should be no different as Howard has assembled a stable of talented guards, all with different skill sets, making the push for playing time fierce across the board.

Headlining the group is 6-foot-1 junior Ian Chiles, who was voted to The Summit League's All-Newcomer Team as a sophomore and was recently pegged Second Team All-League in the recent preseason polls. The high flyer from Louisville averaged 10.5 points per game as a sophomore, including hitting for double-digits on 18 occasions. He's also a lockdown defender, having collected 38 steals and 19 blocked shots a year ago from his guard spot. After coming off the bench in four games at the start of last season, Chiles started the final 28 and flourished down the stretch. He closed the year having scored in double-digits in 15 of IUPUI's final 20 contests.

Another known commodity in the IUPUI backcourt is senior Sean Esposito. The senior sharpshooter sandwiched an array of threes around an injury that cost him time in the middle of last season. The 6-foot-3 Indianapolis-native hit 40 percent of his long-range attempts and averaged 4.5 points per game, primarily off the bench. Among his top outbursts was an 18-point, 4-rebound effort in a win over Oakland on Feb. 1 and a 15-point showing against South Dakota two weeks later. Esposito seemed to be hitting his stride as the season came to an end, making a three in each of IUPUI's final six games including three makes in The Summit League Tournament loss to South Dakota State.

Esposito isn't alone in the sharpshooter category though as junior P.J. Hubert also has one of the smoothest strokes in the program's Division I era. The 6-foot-5 Hubert is better than a 50 percent shooter from three-point range for his career and exploded onto the scene as a freshman, hitting for 15 points in 17 minutes in his collegiate debut. Despite his infrequent usage a year ago, Hubert gives Howard another three-point threat off the bench.

The point guard spot brings an interesting conundrum as three Jaguars could stake a claim to the job. Junior Greg Rice, sophomore Jordan Shanklin and freshman Cortell Busby are all groomed for the role, with no clear cut favorite in the mix. Rice was mostly healthy a year ago and supplied two points and a rebound a game in limited playing time. He started the first four contests before coming off the bench the rest of the year. He came off the bench with 11 key points against South Dakota State on Dec. 1 and hit three threes in a game twice last season.

Part of the reason for Rice's decreased minutes as the season wore on last season was the emergence of Shanklin. The 6-foot sophomore started the season on the mend and didn't make his collegiate debut until Dec. 1 before slowly getting his feet wet throughout the course of the year. Given a clean bill of health, Shanklin seems to have a renewed energy, poise and leadership about him heading into the season.

Busby is one of four parts to this year's recruiting class, coming to IUPUI after a year at Fishburne Military (Va.) School. Known more as a defender and distributor as opposed to a scorer, Busby's football background as the son of a coach has provided him some natural leadership skills.

Two other guards joined Busby in the recruiting class in Purdue-transfer John Hart and true freshman Linwood Ross, Jr.. Hart appeared in 64 games in three seasons with the Boilermakers while earning his degree in the process. The 6-foot-2 guard took advantage of an NCAA rule, allowing his to be immediately eligible while working towards his Master's degree at IUPUI this season.

Hart is expected to make an instant impact for the Jaguars, given his Big Ten background, and is likely to become the next in a long line of successful IUPUI guards. The Beech Grove-native is the most well rounded player in the Jaguars' backcourt, given his scoring ability and defensive background. He has deep range, but is also comfortable scoring when attacking the rim. As a fifth-year senior, Hart's leadership should be just as valuable as his on court contributions.

Another transfer who will be sitting out this season will also pay immediate dividends in practice this year. Milwaukee-transfer Ja'Rob McCallum will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2013, but will ramp up the competition in workouts from day one. The 6-foot floor general averaged nearly eight points per game his first two years with the Panthers before upping his output to 10.0 points per game at the start of last year. However, a wrist injury derailed his season after six games and he ultimately opted to transfer back to the Hoosier State this summer.

Ross, a native of Florida, could the wildcard of the bunch. Described as a 'freakish athlete,' the 6-foot-5 Ross is an undeniably raw talent that should blossom at the Division I level. He has a quick, accurate release on his jumper and plays high above the rim in traffic. Couple that with his on-court bravado and Ross could immediately be a fan favorite.

While listed as a guard, Ross makes a natural segue when looking at the forwards on the Jaguars' roster. Ross should also see time on the wing, especially when Howard decides to play a smaller, quicker lineup.

FORWARDS
Sophomore Lyonell Gaines is the primary holdover at the forward positions, coming off a freshman
campaign in which he netted 6.3 points and 4.3 boards a night. The 6-foot-6 Gaines started 27 contests and shot nearly 54 percent from the floor while plucking more than half of his rebounds off the offensive glass. The Louisville-native had a career-high 20 points, 11 rebounds and five assists against one of The Summit's best frontlines a year ago at Oakland on Jan. 7.

Fellow Louisville-native Donovan Gibbs is in his third year with the Jaguars and is looking forward to a breakout campaign as a junior. The 6-foot-7 Gibbs provides matchup problems because of his deft midrange shooting ability and penchant for facing the basket. Despite scoring less than three points per game in 64 career outings, Gibbs is a 51 percent shooter from the field and can be a game changer at both ends of the floor.

One of IUPUI's ultimate game changers a year ago was 6-foot-5 swingman Marcellus Barksdale. Despite not jumping off the box scores in any one category, the Lexington, Ky.-native showed a propensity for making 'winning' plays at every given opportunity. In a win over UMKC, Barksdale came up with five steals off the bench to accompany nine points and three assists in the overtime victory. Barksdale was IUPUI's ultimate sixth-man as a freshman, coming off the bench in all 32 contests and playing double-digit minutes 26 times.

Senior Nick Kitcoff gives another perimeter oriented option to the frontcourt as a 6-foot-7 sniper. He's appeared in 17 games in two seasons since originally joining the program from Ancilla College. Freshman Elijah Ray gives Howard another big bodied shooter at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds. Ray helped Thea Bowman Academy to two IHSAA State Finals appearances including the 2010 Class A state crown. He averaged 15.2 points and 8.0 boards per game as a senior and has a polished inside-outside game at the offensive end.

CENTERS
As is the case in IUPUI's system, even the two centers are comfortable stepping out and shooting the basketball. Junior Mitchell Patton will be relied on heavily in the post after averaging 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore. The 6-foot-9 Patton earned 10 straight starts at one point and registered his first collegiate double-double in the process. The lefty has a soft shooting touch and ever improving post game on the blocks. Defensively, he showed improved footwork as a sophomore and blocked 13 shots in limited playing time. More importantly, he kept his foul numbers down, allowing him the ability to stay on the floor down the stretch of games.

Behind Patton, Cameron Loepker gives a bruising option to the position at 6-foot-9, 275 pounds and a boxing background. For Loepker, his most recent tour of duty with the Jaguars represents a full circle for his basketball career. He originally committed to and attended IUPUI in 2008 before leaving at semester. He later surfaced at IU South Bend for a brief stint before ultimately returning to the Jaguars. Howard has always been a big fan of Loepker's game and will finally have him at his ready for the 2012-13 campaign.