Archive for IUPUI

Basketball State in a Troubled State

Indiana is known as the basketball state.  Stories are told about the legends that came before and the gyms that are packed by rabid fans in every corner of the state.  But these legends and fans may not have any thing to cheer about in March this year at the college basketball level.  It has been well documented the struggles some of the state schools are going through.  After this weekend though, the state that prides itself on the quality of basketball it has is at risk of completely missing the NCAA tournament.

The state is home to ten Division I basketball programs across seven conferences.  At the current time only three of these ten teams have winning conference records and most of these teams are looming somewhere in the bottom half of their league’s standings.  The lone bright spots are Indiana State, IPFW, and Valparaiso.  These teams are near the top in their respective conferences with Valpo actually with a chance of winning the regular season crown.  The issue with these squads and an NCAA tournament bid is that all three will have to win their conference tournament to secure an automatic bid.  None of these teams would be awarded an at-large bid.  Putting all three teams in a tough position to have to win multiple games just to get in.

The marquee intra-state match up has always been Purdue and Indiana.  That game took place Saturday in West Lafayette with the Boilermakers completely dominating IU 82-64.  Of the “big boys” in this state, most people adhere to one of these two schools.  They have be the dominate programs throughout history in this state.  They are both going through a less than stellar season.  Going into the game on Saturday they had identical 14-10 records and were 4-7 in the Big Ten.  Even with this win, Purdue has a lot of work to do just to get in the NCAA tournament discussion.

The next two schools to look at our Notre Dame and Butler.  Both of these teams moved to new conferences this year and have struggled.  Notre Dame has gone into the ACC and have not performed as hoped sitting at 5-8 in the league.  They have also dealt with a lot of upheaval within the program.  Butler left the “mid-major” ranks this year to join the Big East.  This step up has not gone well for the Bulldogs.  They are just 2-11 in conference and are at risk of their first overall losing record in 9 years.

The remaining teams are all middle to lower level teams in their conferences and would have to go on a miracle run to win their conference tournaments.  Ball State, IUPUI, and Evansville have struggled for various reasons but the results have been similar.  Evansville has been the best of this group but have an incredibly young team.  They are building for next year.  IUPUI has been down the past several years.  Last year suffering through injuries and this year just not playing consistently.  Ball State is under first year head coach James Whitford.  They are looking to the future in Muncie and Whitford has hit the recruiting trail hard.

So this begs the questions- What is going on? and How does it get corrected?  The easy answer is that all of these programs are just having bad years.  That all of them have the chance to get back on track next year.  In some cases that is true.  Indiana State has been the beacon of hope this year and have put together a very solid four year run under Greg Lansing’s guidance.  Along with Valpo they are the best two chances the state has at NCAA appearances.  Both teams are in second place in their respective conferences, but will each have to win their conference tournaments to sneak in.  Most people would talk about the struggles of IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Butler being the biggest issues.  Each fan base has different reasons they will offer about why each program is down.  The simple rebuttal is that none of these four teams are that good.  Whether it be coaching, young players, player turnover, or injuries the fact remains that these are not the caliber of teams we are used to seeing at these institutions.  Overall, there is a lack of confidence right now.  Losing can do that to a team.  Doubt creeps into their minds and makes it difficult when the going gets tough.  The answer to how this gets corrected is probably one of two options.  Either your team gets hot and closes the season strong.  Building up the confidence level of the players, coaches, and fans.  Or you start building for next year now.  Get the young players on the team the reps they will need to gain experience.  The coaches can look at different player combinations and what may work moving forward.  That is always a tough pill to swallow, but when the postseason is very nearly out of the question you start playing now as if you are playing for the future.

Let us all hope that when the calendar turns to March some magic happens statewide and we get some surprises via the conference tournaments.  Our attention will be kept in Arch Madness rooting on the Sycamores and in the Horizon League tournament for Valpo.  Maybe one of the major conference teams get hot at the right time.  We will see but as for now this could be a dark season in Indiana college basketball history.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Rise and Fire

IUPUI head basketball coach Todd Howard and I  had a lengthy talk about the big announcement from last week that starting in 2014 the Jaguars will play their home games at the renovated Indiana State Fair Coliseum.  What this move means for his team and the future of the program.  Plus Coach Howard talks about the roster for next season.  Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and subscribe to all podcasts on iTunes.

Rise and Fire

State Wide Round Ball Round Up

The month where college basketball becomes king is here.  March not only marks the beginning of the end for the season, but it is also gives us some of the game’s most lasting memories.  Everything is on the line in March.  Where players and coaches can put themselves into the fabric of hard court greatness.  As we prepare ourselves for the best of all months, we will take a look at where each of the state schools sit with just a few games remaining.

Indiana

The Hoosiers are currently ranked #1 in the country- at least until the new polls come out tomorrow.  IU has been one of the top teams in the country the entire season.  They are an impressive 25-4 overall and sit atop the Big Ten with a 13-3 conference mark.  IU had a five game winning streak snapped this week with a four point loss at Minnesota.  The loss brings up a stat that some would say is a source of pride while others may give it concern.  The Hoosiers are 6-0 against teams in the AP top 25, which means all four of their losses have come to unranked teams.  It shows they are capable of winning big games, but could be susceptible to let downs.  Although in an effort of fairness, all four of these teams have spent time in the polls at some point this season. 

Moving forward IU has just two regular season games left.  They host Ohio State on Tuesday for Senior Night then travel to Michigan next Sunday.  If IU wins out, they will claim their first outright conference championship since 1993 and first overall since 2002.  Bigger goals still are out there for this team.  A #1 seed in the NCAA tournament is nearly a certainty and this team has all the tools needed to win the title.  IU’s big three (Zeller, Oladipo, and Watford) when they play well together can carry this team on a deep run.  After a 26 year drought, could this be the team Hoosier faithful have been waiting for to put six consecutive wins together and hang the sixth banner?  Just one story that makes March great.

Notre Dame

The Irish have been a little up and down in Big East play but sit firmly in the NCAA Tournament.  Notre Dame is 22-7 overall and 10-6 in the conference which is good for a third place tie.  The Big East has proved to be a tough conference to get through this season with the top teams all going through a tough stretch.  The Irish have had their difficulty on the road but the best part of the NCAA Tournament is that all games are played at neutral sites.  Coach Brey has them playing a balanced brand of basketball right now.  Inside Jack Cooley and Tom Knight have played well and control the boards.  The perimeter is controlled by Eric Atkins at the point.  Atkins runs the show for ND and has a 2.7 assists to turnover ratio for them.  

The difference in the tournament for them may be Jerian Grant though.  Grant is an athletic scorer and one of the few guys that can create his own shot.  ND should fit somewhere around a six or seven seed when the brackets are revealed.  Getting out of the first weekend and advancing past the Round of 16 is a possibility for this team.  Coach Brey has not had a lot of success in the Big Dance but this team has enough scoring and rebounding to make a run.

Butler

The Bulldogs spent a long time in the top fifteen in the country this season but have come across some rough times over the past few weeks.  They have lost five of their last eleven games.  The move to the Atlantic 10 has proved to be a step up in competition as BU thought it would be.  Their overall record is still good at 22-7, but their conference record of 9-5 is only good for a fourth place tie.  Butler has suffered back-to-back losses to the top two teams in the conference- St. Louis and VCU.  The VCU was an embarrassing 32 point beat down on national TV.  

The good news for Butler is that there are a few games left to get this straightened out.  Two regular season games remain plus the conference tournament in Brooklyn.  Right now Butler is still going to be in the NCAA Tournament but the question for them is where will they be seeded.  A few weeks ago they were solidly a top four seed, but now are probably looking more at a seven seed depending on how the next two weeks go.

Valparaiso

Bryce Drew has now won back-to-back conference championships in his first two seasons in charge of the Crusaders.  Valpo beat UW-Green Bay yesterday 75-56 to clinch the Horizon League title.  They are 24-7 overall and won the Horizon with a 13-3 mark.  Winning the conference is even more important in the Horizon League as now Valpo will host the conference tournament throughout their run.  This was the same scenario last season, but they lost at home to Detroit in the championship game.

This Valparaiso team is constructed of the same players as last year, but as the saying goes they are another year older and another year wiser.  If this team makes the NCAA Tournament, they have all the ingredients for a lower seeded squad that could pull off a major upset.  Their top six players are seniors, they have a stud go-to scorer (Ryan Broekhoff 15.9 ppg and probably conference POY), and a very good big guy most “mid-majors” don’t have (Kevin Van Wijk 12.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg).

Evansville

The Purple Aces are doing just want they want to be doing heading into March.  They are playing their best at just the right time.  UE is on a four game winning streak and finished the Missouri Valley regular season in fourth place at 10-8 (18-13 overall).  Colt Ryan is their senior scoring machine.  He surpassed 2,000 points in his career just a few weeks ago and is averaging 20.0 ppg.  The key to their offense is sharing the basketball as they rank 15th nationally in assists per game with 16.1 per.

As we enter March, Evansville’s only chance of making the Big Dance is running the gauntlet at Arch Madness.  The Missouri Valley Conference tournament has been one of the most exciting and competitive tournaments throughout the years.  This year should be the same.  The Aces are playing well going into St. Louis with Colt Ryan leading the way.  Three wins in three days has been done before.

IPFW

Along the same lines as Evansville, the IPFW Mastodons are entering their conference tournament on a hot streak.  The Dons have won five straight down the stretch to finish fifth in the Summit League.  After a rough start to the season, they finished the regular season 15-16 and 7-9 in the conference.  Frank Gaines is the go-to guy.  He is averaging 19.5 ppg this season and is one of the top scorers in the conference.  As IPFW has gotten hot so has Gaines.

Traveling to the cold weather of South Dakota they will look to stay hot.  Gaines will need to lead the way with the help of Luis Jacobo (11.3 ppg) for them to advance deep into the Summit League tournament.  Without a tournament championship, the Mastodons could possibly get a CBI bid or may get shut out of postseason play.

Indiana State

Faltering a bit down the stretch the Sycamores lost five of their final six games.  They still finished with a 17-13 record and 9-9 in the conference, but finishing in fifth after being tied for first late in the conference schedule is disappointing.  Jake Odum has lead this inexperienced team all season.  Odum is nearly a lock for MVC first team honors with 14.4 ppg and 4.7 apg.  

The best news for ISU might be the new life Arch Madness can give them.  Putting together three good games in St. Louis can erase the feeling of these final few weeks.  Although they are mostly inexperienced, Coach Greg Lansing and Odum have been there and done this before.  Just two years ago they ran through the conference tourney on their way to the NCAA.

Purdue

This has been a very up and down season for Matt Painter and the Boilermakers.  With one week remaining in the regular season they sit one game under .500 at 14-15.  Purdue’s conference mark is 7-9 with few good wins and some head scratchers.  The Boilermakers are coming off possibly their best win of the season over #17 Wisconsin in Madison. A huge second half effort by D.J. Byrd, Terone Johnson, and Sandi Marcius got PU that victory and even caused Coach Painter to crack a smile.

Now the Boilers role will be of spoiler.  Two tournament bound teams (Michigan and Minnesota) are left plus the conference tournament.  An unbelievable run in Chicago is their only shot at the NCAA tournament.  It will take four wins in four games which will be tough for a team that has been so streaky.

Ball State

After a rough start to the season, Ball State has played much better the last month.  They have won five out of six to get out of the basement of the MAC West.  The Cardinals are 13-14 overall, but now are 6-8 in the conference good for fourth in the division.  Billy Taylor has found some consistency and hope to keep this going for two more weeks.

Jauwan Scaife has upped his play and is scoring at a high rate right now.  Scaife leads the team with 16.0 ppg.  With some help from Jesse Berry and Majok Majok, the Cards could make some noise in the MAC tourney. The CBI could be a possibility with a good final two weeks which would be big for Coach Taylor building for next year.

IUPUI

This season has been incredibly tough for the Jaguars.  Coach Todd Howard’s squad has struggled with injuries all season long which has resulted in a 6-25 record and just 1-15 in the Summit League.  The Jags are mired in a fifteen game losing streak and haven’t won since the calendar turned to 2013.  Their last win came December 27th against in-state foe IPFW.  The conference tournament is the last hope for IUPUI this season.  They are matched up with conference co-champion South Dakota St. in the opener who beat the Jags twice this season.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Rise and Fire

State Wide Round Ball Round Up

We have reached the beginning of February which marks the midway point of conference play in college basketball.  Teams at this point have either put themselves in a good position to make a run at the conference crown or have let some work to do.

Indiana

The Hoosiers will be back up to #1 tomorrow.  #3 IU beat #1 Michigan last night in Bloomington to stake claim to the top of the polls again (with some help from Oklahoma State as they beat Kansas in Lawrence yesterday).  The past week has been the biggest of the season for Indiana (20-2) so far.  On Wednesday night, they beat arch rival Purdue 97-60.  The worst home loss the Boilermakers have ever suffered.  Then with the bright lights of ESPN’s College Gameday shining last night the Hoosiers toppled Michigan.  Indiana will not only be #1 in the country, but they are all alone in first place of the Big Ten (8-1).  They have a very tough second half road schedule so this start was needed to put them in the championship mix. Bigger things could be out there for IU.  A possible #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament followed by a deep run once they get there.  Hoosier nation at this point is hopeful the continues on until the National Championship game on April 8.

Butler

The Bulldogs have gone from an unranked team with numerous questions to start the year to a top ten team.  Butler gave IU one of their two losses at the Crossroads Classic when IU was last #1 in the country.  The addition of Rotnei Clarke (17.1 ppg) has been huge.  Clarke not only delivers consistent scoring but seems to exude confidence that the entire team feeds off of.  Clarke has come back from a neck injury that caused him to miss a few games, but even with him out of the line up Butler had one of the most memorable games of the season.  College Gameday also made an appearance at Hinkle Fieldhouse and when there Butler’s Roosevelt Jones beat Gonzaga on a last second floater.  

Butler is still trying to navigate their way through a new conference.  The Atlantic 10 has proven to be a tough league this year.  Right now four teams have two losses.  VCU leads with a 6-2 record with Butler, Charlotte, and St. Louis a half game behind at 5-2.  The Bulldogs have lost two of their last four to fall back to the pack.  

Notre Dame

Mike Brey is doing it again in South Bend.  He has this Fighting Irish team competing at a high level and in the mix for the Big East crown.  Notre Dame (18-4, 6-3) sits one game back in the standings.  This upcoming week will go a long way in determining ND’s fate as they play at Syracuse on Monday then host Louisville on Saturday.  The Irish have been lead by Jack Cooley who is averaging a double-double (15.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg).  Cooley along with Tom Knight have given them a strong interior presence and solidifying the back of their defense.  Overall, Notre Dame is a NCAA Tournament team, but the question is how far can they advance.  They need to get injured forward Scott Martin back but with him is this finally the team that can go deep into March for Coach Brey.

Indiana State

ISU is hanging in the ultra competitive Missouri Valley Conference.  The Sycamores lost an overtime heart breaker at Drake last night to fall to 7-4 in conference, 14-8 overall.  They sit in third place right now two games behind #21 Creighton and one game behind #15 Wichita State- who they just beat on Tuesday.  ISU continues to look for that consistent third option to come along behind Jake Odum and Manny Arop, but they have gotten solid play from several guys.  Justin Gant and R.J. Mahurin have stepped up the most to chip in plus have strengthened their already stout defense.  With Arch Madness on the horizon, ISU looks to close the conference slate strong to be prepped for  a tourney run.  There is also one other scenario out there for the Trees to get to the big dance.  A strong finish could put ISU on the NCAA Tournament bubble as they already hold victories over #14 Miami and #16 Ole Miss.  A date with Creighton at home this week could also add to that resume.

Evansville

The Purple Aces are scratching and clawing in the MVC.  They have let a few games slip away but still sit in fourth at 6-5, 13-10 overall.  Colt Ryan is the man for UE.  Ryan is averaging 17.8 ppg and 4.0 apg.  Without Doug McDermott in the MVC, Ryan would be the favorite for conference Player of the Year.  Evansville has some big games left down the stretch- with seven regular season games to go they still play Creighton, Wichita St., and Indiana State again.  They have the opportunity to put themselves in a good position for Arch Madness in St. Louis.  Plus with a guy like Colt Ryan on board, Marty Simmons’ boys have a guy that can carry them for three days and sneak into the dance.

Purdue

The Boilermakers are having some struggles recently.  They have lost three of their last four games and our .500 for the year at 11-11.  They are 4-5 in conference even with their recent woes.  The biggest bright spot for the Boilers is the production they are getting from their freshmen.  A.J. Hammons was lightly recruited but he is proving his worth.  The seven footer from Carmel is averaging 11.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg. He set a career high against IU by dropping 30.  Along with point guard Ronnie Johnson and forward Raphael Davis, this core looks like they have bright days coming in West Lafayette.  With a spoiler role in mind, Coach Matt Painter is going to try to close the season strong and at least make the NIT.

Valparaiso

Bryce Drew has his Crusaders in first place in the Horizon League and looking for their second straight regular season championship.  This has even more meaning in the HL as the highest seeded team will host the semi-finals and finals.  Valpo lost at home in the championship game last year but with their core crew back again they look to host the conference tourney at the ARC again.  Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk are leading the way for VU.  Broekhoff is on his way to conference player of the year putting up 16.6 ppg and 8.4 rpg.  At 17-6 overall the Crusaders are probably not going to be in the discussion for an at-large berth in the tourney so taking care of business in the conference tournament is there ticket back to the dance.

Ball State

The Cardinals struggles this season have continued in conference play.  BSU has started just 2-6 in the MAC putting them at the bottom of the West Division.  Billy Taylor’s squad biggest issue this season has been scoring.  They are averaging just 63.8 ppg which is 263rd in the country.  To coincide with that the Cards field goal percentage is just 42.4% and they only average 12.3 assists a game.  Without question the offense has been a struggle for Ball State, but one bright spot has been senior guard Jauwan Scaife averaging 13.0 ppg.  There are still a lot of games remaining and as with everyone else the will get a second chance in March with the conference tournament.

IUPUI

This entire season for IUPUI has been a case study in injuries and how they can affect a team.  The Jags have had so many injury issues that in several games they have suited up only seven scholarship players.  Putting together makeshift line ups has made it difficult for them to find continuity.  Sitting now at 6-19 and just 1-10 in the Summit League is not where coach Todd Howard envisioned his team.  One player that has stuck out is Mitchell Patton.  The junior big man is pouring in 13.4 points and grabbing five rebounds per game.  His improvement from his freshman year has been awesome if you include the fact that he has also been struggling with a foot and leg injury issue.

IPFW

The Mastodons have had their difficulty in Summit League games thus far.  They are just 3-7 in league games and 10-14 overall.  They have lost some tight games though where one possession here or there changes the outcome.  Frank Gaines leads the team in scoring at 19 ppg and grabs 4.3 rpg.  Surprisingly, the Dons only have six regular season games left before the conference tournament.  Only a few more weeks to see if they can gain some momentum going into March.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Jackrabbits Run Past IUPUI

South Dakota State came into The Jungle and put on an offensive show.  They blitzed the undermanned Jaguars 80-65.  SDSU is now on a four game winning streak, while IUPUI dropped their sixth consecutive contest.

From the get-go this game was all about the Jackrabbit offense.  They showed great movement of the ball and players finding holes in the Jaguars 2-3 zone and later man-to-man defense.  SDSU scored 52 points in the first twenty minutes taking a 52-28 lead into the break.  The Jackrabbits shot an impressive 58.6% in that first stanza, 47.2% for the game, with eight players in the scoring column.

SDSU coasted in the second half and finished the game with five players in double figures led by Brayden Carlson with 18.  Top scorer and star Nate Wolters was kept in check with just 12 points but his presence was a factor on offense as he dished out seven assists.  SDSU finished with 16 assists on 25 made field goals.

As has been the case for most of this season, IUPUI is dealing with injury issues with several players.  They came into action today with just seven scholarship players available.  They were just over matched today at home.  The Jags had three players that played all forty minutes.  Mitchell Patton, who has been dealing with some foot issues, put up a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.  Greg Rice also poured in 17 points to lead IUPUI.

Below is some post game audio with IUPUI players Greg Rice and Mitchell Patton.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer an @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Statewide Round Ball Round Up

Just as we did last year at the start of each month we will run through the Division I college basketball programs in the state to get you caught up on where every program is.  This month I waited an extra week as this completes the first full month of games.  So lets get started.

Indiana

The Hoosiers are ranked #1 in the nation and through their first nine games have shown no reason why they shouldn’t be.  IU has won all nine games this year by an average of 31.7 ppg.  The schedule has not been loaded with top notch competition but in the three games so far against BCS conference teams Indiana has handled all of them with double-digit victories.

Indiana has showcased numerous offensive weapons as they have five players averaging double figures.  The Hoosiers lead the country in scoring with 89.1 points per game.  Cody Zeller, the preseason National Player of the Year, leads the team in both scoring and rebounding at 15.4 ppg and 8.9 rpg.  IU has one more game against a solid opponent left before entering conference play as they will take on Butler next Saturday in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame is the only other ranked team in the state coming in at #22 right now.  They have rolled through the first month of the season with a record of 8-1.  Their signature win thus far is a home victory over then #8 Kentucky 64-50.  The Irish dominated that contest and showed that Coach Brey’s squad has the tools to compete with top competition.  The question that still exist for them however is if they are just a home team or if they are able to play the same way on the road.

ND is lead this year by the same guy that lead them last year- Jack Cooley.  Cooley is averaging a double-double with 14.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.  They have also shown a balanced offense having three other players scoring in double figures (Jerian Grant, Eric Atkins, and Michigan State transfer Garrick Sherman).  For Coach Brey however this may finally be the team that can some noise in March.  The Irish’s next game is against Purdue in the Crossroads Classic.

Butler

Butler has been a little under the radar to this point even though they are 7-2 with several good wins.  Butler showed what they are capable of at the Maui Invitational.  The Bulldogs beat Marquette on a last second Rotnei Clarke trey and pounded North Carolina on their way to the title game.  There they lost to still undefeated Illinois.  

The improvement this year has come from the additions of Clarke and freshman Kellen Dunham who give the Bulldogs the outside shooting they missed last year.  Clarke (17.3 ppg) and Dunham (11.0 ppg) have allowed the offense better spacing opening the post and driving lanes for Andrew Smith, Khyle Marshall, and Roosevelt Jones.  Butler has played a tough schedule so far to get prepared for their new conference the Atlantic 10.  The Dawgs will get their biggest test next Saturday against #1 Indiana.  This will be a good game for both teams as it will be an offense versus defense battle.  Butler’s defense has been very good and very physical while as we talked about before IU leads the nation in scoring.

Purdue

Matt Painter has a young team this season and they have started off slow.  The Boilers are just 4-5 and coming off a very disappointing loss at Eastern Michigan.  They lost that game 47-44 shooting a dismal 29.8% from the field.  Purdue has been very up and down as you may expect from a young team.  They have looked good in a few games (Clemson and UNC-Wilmington) while really struggling in others (Bucknell, Oregon St., and Eastern Michigan).

The biggest bright spot for Purdue is their work on the boards.  They have out rebounded every opponent this year and rank eighth nationally with 44.2 rebounds per game.  Terone Johnson and A.J. Hammons have been their most consistent scorers.  Johnson is only Boiler averaging double figures at 13 a game.  Hammons as a freshman is becoming a reliable post presence.  He is putting in 9.3 points a game and six rebounds.  Purdue only has three games remaining before the conference schedule hits so they have limited time to get it straightened out before going against the top league in the country.

Indiana State

The Sycamores are in a similar situation as Purdue in that they have a young squad.  Coach Greg Lansing is relying heavily on Jake Odum to steer his ship.  Just as the Boilers, they have had their ups and downs early on.  After dropping their opener at UCLA, the Trees won four straight games.  They have dropped their last two however which were a tough overtime home loss to #25 New Mexico and yesterday on the road at Morehead State.

Sitting at 4-3 right now the Sycamores are starting to gear up for Missouri Valley Conference play.  ”The Mayor” Jake Odum leads the team in scoring 15.1, assists 4.4, and steals 1.6.  They will rely on him all season to put them in positions to win.  Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop has been a nice addition as well even as he is learning to fit in.  Arop is putting in 10.9 points and pulling down 6.4 rebounds a game.  Moving forward in the MVC they will also need freshman Khristian Smith (from Pike High School in Indianapolis) to continue to improve as he is starting to score more consistently at 9.4 ppg.

IUPUI

The Jaguars have had a rough start to the season.  Not only in the win-loss column but also on the health front.  The Jags have started off 3-8, but have not been able to put consistent line ups on the court.  Yesterday in their game at Western Kentucky, IUPUI made the trip with only eight scholarship players able to play.

The largest bright spot and possibly surprise has been Mitchell Patton.  Patton is second on the team scoring 14.6 points and rebounding 5.7.  He is struggling with a lower leg injury right now, but the improvement he has made from his freshman year to now has been impressive.  Purdue transfer John Hart leads the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg.  For the Jags right now the biggest thing is getting healthy.  It is going to be tough but in a one bid league they need to focus on getting back on track and peaking at the right time for the conference tournament.

Ball State

Billy Taylor’s team is off to a 4-4 start, but the Cardinals are still trying to find their offensive rhythm.  They are only scoring 62.4 points per game.  Finding buckets consistently has been a major issue for the Cards.  Majok Majok has been a big contributor so far.  He is averaging a double-double at this point with 13.1 points and 10.9 rebounds.  The Cards are going to have to work inside out a little more to open opportunities for Jesse Berry and Jauwan Scaife.  They have four games remaining before MAC play begins with a major test coming against Purdue on December 18.  The Cards dropped their other big match ups this year against IU and Butler.  A win against Purdue to boost their momentum into the conference.

Evansville

The Purple Aces have been playing some good basketball even with an injury to star Colt Ryan.  The Aces are 5-4 but have lost tough road games to Notre Dame and Colorado State.  They also dropped a home contest to very good and underrated Murray State.  Once completely healthy the Aces should be a player in the MVC this year.

Stud freshman D.J. Balentine is leading the team in scoring (12.1 ppg).  Balentine was an Indiana All-Star last year and after a slow start has really taken off.  With Colt Ryan (second on the team with 11.6 ppg) back, UE looks to get back on track.  We will learn a lot about where they are at the final week of December as they will play at Butler the 22nd and at #16 Creighton the 29th.

Valparaiso

The Crusaders are off to a solid start at 6-3.  Bryce Drew has his team playing well even in their three losses.  Losing at two NCAA tournament teams from last season in Saint Louis and New Mexico.  Drew always lays out a non-conference schedule that is challenging for his team and gets them ready for the Horizon League.

Valpo returned their top two scorers from last year in Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk.  So far this season they have not disappointed.  Broekhoff is averaging 17.4 ppg and 7.3 rpg and will be a candidate for Horizon League Player of the Year.  Van Wijk is a big key for the Crusaders.  If he can stay out of foul trouble, Valpo has a solid team and will be able to win a lot of ball games.  The Crusaders should be challenging at the top of a very competitive Horizon League.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

Butler Pounds IUPUI

Bulldog Shooting Impeccable in Win

Butler got out of the gate fast and didn’t slow down as they cruised to a 87-55 win.  Butler began the game on a 23-4 run on a combination of great shooting and active defense.  Butler lead by as many as 31 points in the first half as they shot 60% from the field.  The Bulldogs did major damage behind the arc as they were 9-15 (60%) in the opening twenty minutes.  They finished the game shooting 55% from the floor and 52% from long range but the outcome was decided early.

IUPUI could not find any rhythm on the offensive end.  Part of that is due to the multiple line ups the Jaguars have played so far this season due to injuries, but tonight the credit should go to Butler’s defensive effort.  Early on Butler deflected numerous passes and were very active in the passing lanes.  This pushed the Jaguar offense out on the court making it tough to get into their sets.

Butler had 5 players in double figures scoring lead by Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham both with 17.  Andrew Smith, Khyle Marshall, and Eric Fromm were also in double digits with eleven, ten, and ten respectively.  IUPUI was lead by Mitchell Patton and Donavan Gibbs who both had 10.  Gibbs also contributed on the glass leading the Jags with six rebounds.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Inside the Man Room- 2012-13 College Basketball Preview

The Coach and I get you ready for the 2012-13 college basketball season by taking a look at all the teams from around the state.  From South Bend to Evansville and Terre Haute to Muncie, we have you covered.  Follow us on Twitter @thadvandeventer, @C_K_42, and @IndySportsCrew.  Subscribe to Indy Sports Crew podcasts on iTunes.

Rise and Fire

IUPUI Red-White Scrimmage

Tuesday night was the annual Red-White Scrimmage for the IUPUI Basketball team which is the first opportunity fans get a chance to see this season’s Jaguars in action.  The white squad came away with a 79-65 victory after jumping out to an early lead.  There were several things that Coach Todd Howard could be pleased with from the scrimmage and I got a chance to catch up with him afterward.

Coach Howard pointed out that he feels a strength for his team is its depth and versatility.  That was on display Tuesday night with several guys contributing.  Point guard Greg Rice led the white team with 19 points and 8 rebounds.  Purdue transfer John Hart had 16 points for the white team including four 3-pointers.  Big man Mitchell Patton chipped in with 14 points and 7 rebounds.  Guard Ian Chiles was the top scorer for the red side with 17 points and forward Donovan Gibbs had a solid outing with 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

College Basketball News and Notes

Butler Bulldogs

This past week there were two stories involving Indianapolis area schools that I thought should be mentioned. First is the news from Butler that guard Chrishawn Hopkins was dismissed from the team for “an accumulation of failed requirements”.  Hopkins was a key player for the Bulldogs last year and was expected to be a top returning performer this year.  Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star has quotes from Hopkins’ guardian Vince Stennett in this story.  Without Hopkins, this will shorten the backcourt rotation for BU and will force them to rely heavily on first year players Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham.  Clarke is a transfer from Arkansas who sat out last season.  Dunham is a true freshman from Pendleton Heights and was an Indiana All-Star last season.

IUPUI Jaguars

IUPUI released their 2012-2013 schedule this week.  The Jags have some very intriguing match-ups this year including some power programs.  They will open the season at home November 9 against Utah Valley St.  After that they will be participating in the NIT Season Tip-Off where they will take on Michigan in the first round in Ann Arbor.  Maryland is another big time program that makes the schedule as IUPUI travels to College Park where the Terps and Jags will duel on New Year’s Day.  IUPUI will play three home games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse plus they will play six non-conference games against in-state foes (Butler, Indiana State, Valpo, Ball State, IU East, and IU Northwest.)  See the entire press release and schedule here.