League vs. League – Summit’s IUPUI invades

Opponent #3: IUPUI Jaguars, November 18th, US Cellular Arena

Ron Hunter spent a very large portion of the past two decades as head coach of the Summit League’s IUPUI Jaguars.  So it was a bit of a surprise when the noted good samaritan took his feet down to Georgia State of the CAA last spring.  His replacement, Todd Howard, spent 16 years at IUPUI as an assistant and associate head coach, so the Jaguars have been prepared for this for awhile, but it’s still a surprising move outside of Indy.  The Jaguars are set at most positions and, unlike the Huskies who also went through a coaching transition, aren’t expected to fall off.

Alex Young will be one hard man to stop at the Cell on November 18th.

– Key player: Alex Young. The senior wingman does it all for IUPUI.  At 6’6” and 200 lbs., Alex Young is an iron man for the Jags.  Young rarely comes off the court, averaging 31.6 minutes last season as a junior.  The hometown wing was first on the team with 19.7 ppg in 2010-11, and no player in the country comes into this season having scored as many points as Alex Young, who has 1,633 to his name already.  Head coach Todd Howard had this to say to IUPUIJags.com. “He’s worked tremendously on his perimeter game and is one the premier slashers in the nation. Plus, he’s really focused on all the other ways to score, whether it be putbacks, getting to the (free throw) line and finishing in transition. In the jump from his freshman to sophomore year, we talked a lot about finding extra opportunities to score.”

– Wanted: dimes. Starting point guard John Ashworth, who led the team with 96 assists last season, has departed.  That leaves a hole to fill in the starting lineup.  Stephen Thomas could move from shooting guard over to the point, but that just moves the hole over to shooting guard.  That role could be filled by Sean Esposito, the junior who scored the most amount of points outside the starting lineup.  Sophomore Donovan Gibbs could also be that guy for the Jaguars if they wanted to go big, moving Young down to shooting guard.

– Sophomore Surge. IUPUI players in the past have blossomed as sophomores.  Alex Young did it, now San Antonio Spurs George Hill did it, and so did a slew of others.  Among the crop of sophomores-to-be, Donovan Gibbs looks to be the one to make the jump.  With an opening on the wing, Gibbs has the opportunity to move himself into major playing time this season.

– Long, athletic, fast. They definitely have big bodies – Cameron Loepker, a junior center who started at IUPUI, left, and came back, is 6’9” and 275 – but their real strength is long, quick athletes.  Christian Siakam led the team with 6.9 rpg but was extremely athletic in the paint doing so, grabbing 108 offensive rebounds on the season.  P.J. Hubert, Marcellus Barksdale, Nick Kitcoff, Gibbs, and Lyonnell Gaines provide Howard with a lot of long bodies to throw at Milwaukee’s taller players.  IUPUI has a lot more height than the average Horizon League team.

The Jaguars have been paced by Young, but fell victim to UALR 75-70 on Tuesday night.  The game was well-played, but the Jaguars couldn’t gain an edge on UALR inside the paint, being outrebounded 38-30 and giving up 12 second-chance points.

IUPUI guard Stephen Jackson was out of the first game but played against UALR.  Overall, the Jags are shooting well but are not getting to the line as much as they’d like.

In the early season, with the talent level they are bringing into the Cell, this is the stiffest test the Panthers have faced thus far.

Tip-off is 7 p.m, but join PantherU.com for a pre-game meal at Major Goolsby’s at 5 p.m.  Some IUPUI faithful are going to join us and it’s always a good time when fans from opposing teams can get together in good fun.

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Stopping Alex Young

He’s long. He’s strong.  He’s fast. He’s scoring in every way imaginable.  He’s on his way to the NBA. No player that the Panthers have seen in this young season can stack up to him.

His name is Alex Young. And he’s damn near impossible to stop.

Young failed to score ten points in a game once last season.

In two games this season, Young is averaging 19.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.  He is skilled, but his game is all about pure athleticism.

A hometown kid who didn’t get much in the way of recruitment, Young was picked up by IUPUI coach Ron Hunter and groomed to be the successor in a long line of tall wing guard/forwards who are dynamic scorers.

A dynamic scorer he became.  Since coming to the Jaguars, Young has increased his production from 11 to 18 to 19 points per game.  With 20 points in his first game and 19 Tuesday night against UALR, it looks as though Young is on his way towards doing it again.

Some teams have had success against him.  In a game against Oral Roberts last season, he was held to just six points on 3-for-12 shooting. While he didn’t score under ten points the rest of the season, the Jaguars lost many games.

The simple fact is that Young is going to get his.  But to beat the Jaguars, you need to slow him down.  Decrease his efficiency – force him to get 20 points on 8 of 20 shooting instead of 8 of 13.  Force him to miss a lot of shots and you make the Jaguars far less efficient.

How do you do that?  Confusion.  The good thing about the Panthers is that there are a lot of players on the program that can theoretically defend Young.

On the perimeter, players like Kaylon Williams, Ryan Allen and Paris Gulley can be used on a rotation, cutting out his outside shot.  They can’t keep him covered by themselves; they are not nearly long enough to alter his shot as he drives to the hole.

Milwaukee will need to funnel Young into the waiting arms of our taller defenders.

Perhaps Young’s strongest part of his game is that ability to drive the lane.  Many of his points are scored while he is taking the ball to the hole.  His speed helps him blow past slower defenders, and his length gets him past most guards who have trouble blocking his shots.

What Milwaukee will have to do to minimize his driving ability is two things.  First, they need to cut off the driving lanes that give him a direct line to the basket.  If he doesn’t have open space to lay in the easy buckets, he’ll have to work harder at his shots.  The second part is funneling him directly to the height of the team – Kyle Kelm and Demetrius Harris have the height and blocking ability to get in his face and force him to miss shots.  Maybe they won’t get a block every time down the floor, but they’ll be able to alter enough shots for him to become inefficient, thus giving the Panthers more possessions.

So look for the Panthers to take advantage of all that length in trying to stop Young from destroying their defense.  If they don’t, you’re going to have a long night at the Cell.