The title of this blog certainly comes into play doesn’t it? You may be wondering if this thing is on? It is and I’m still here fresh from a 5 night stay in south Florida. My time away from the IUPUI Jaguars was due to my cousin getting married in Key West. I know, rough life, you don’t have to tell me. The good news for me is I am back and ready to watch the Jags while settling in behind the microphone Friday against St. Joseph’s College. The bad news is I missed one of the greatest single game performances in IUPUI’s division I history.
Saturday night I was somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean enjoying drinks, hors d’oeuvre, and time with my family while the Jaguars were at the Jungle facing Western Kentucky. The long time voice of the Jags who preceded me Greg Rakestraw was on the call for the 84-76 IUPUI win. The game tipped just after 7:00 and my first check on the score came at about 7:30. The was about mid-way through the first half and it was a typical slow start for IUPUI. So I stuck thr phone back in my pocket and waited about 20 minutes for the next update. The game was at the half with IUPUI leading 34-25 and I noticed that Alex Young had 20 points. It was shaping up to be a nice night for the Senior, but I didn’t have any idea just how great of a night it would become. My next update came about 8 minutes into the 2nd half and Young was a bucket away from setting a new career high. I sent a text to IUPUI Sports Information Director Ed Holdaway asking if Alex was dominating the game. “Yup, 31 easy points within the flow.” A few minutes later Ed sent me the following text “37, dunk.” 37 points for Alex Young and I was missing it!? He ended the night with a career high 43 on 14-20 shooting making 12 of 13 free throws. It was a night that he needed, the Jaguars needed, and to be honest my night in Key West was something that I needed as well. The question is…is Alex Young heating up?
His 43 points was the 6th highest scoring effort in school history and the most in the school’s Division I history. It was the most points for a Summit League player since the 2008-2009 season and the most for an IUPUI player since the ’97-’98 season. If Young is heating up, this is the time for him to get his game back on track. The league’s preseason player of the year is having an up and down campaign. He is scoring 27 per game at home compared to only 11.6 points per game on the road. AY5 is shooting 47% from the floor in the Jungle and only 32% on the road. The Jags will have 3 of their next 5 games in the Jungle with the other set to be play at Conseco Fieldhouse. What an opportunity for this 3-8 club to bounce back and bounce back in a big way. Here is the schedule over the next three weeks: FRI vs. St. Joseph’s, MON vs. Ball State (CFH), FRI 12/23 vs. Valparaiso (CFH), FRI 12/30 vs. Western Illinois (league game), WED 1/3, vs. UMKC (league game). Every one of those game is winnable if the best player on the floor is Alex Young. I’ll be anxious to watch him and the team against St. Joseph’sCollege and see who gets the shots and points within the flow of the offense. From what I understand it was obvious last Saturday was Alex’s night and we’ll see if that trend continues against the Pumas.
Only Ron Hunter and Todd Howard have watched more IUPUI basketball games than Greg Rakestraw. He filled in for me on Saturday and had a front row seat to the 43 point game. “It is hard to imagine someone getting a quite 43 points, but he did it within the offense that his performance didn’t stand out. It’s incredible that a guy could go for 43 and quietly dominate the way he did on Saturday.” Greg couldn’t put the performance at the top of the IUPUI list and others agree. “For me the night Odell Bradley score 41 points against Oral Roberts is the best single game performance I ever saw from an IUPUI player and that game, for me remains as the best ever at the Jungle.” SID Ed Holdaway agrees, “Yeah, that game was incredible and is probably the best ever at the Jungle. Odell was on fire that night and most of his points came in the overtime and not regulation. Alex had 43 in regulation, that’s not bad.”
Not bad at all. Head Coach Todd Howard liked what he saw and hopes there is more from his senior. “He was really on top of his game and it was a quiet 43 because of how smooth he was. He defended, he rebounded, and I thought he was the perfect recipient and finisher.” Coach Howard has tried various ways to grab his star’s attention. Young sat for nearly 10 minutes during an earlier meeting with Ball State and did not start the 2nd half of that game. The most recent message was sent when Young and fellow Senior’s Stephen Thomas and Christian Siakam didn’t start against nationally ranked Louisville. “I was very proud of him Saturday and it followed the shake up against Louisville. He responded with work determination and it ended with a stellar performance.” Minutes before the tip in Louisville, TV analyst Bob Valvano asked me why Young was not starting. My answer was simple…Todd needs to get the attention of his seniors. Bob simply said, “that will do it.” For the moment it worked.
A brief survey tells me the best single game performances belong to Odell Bradley’s two 41 against Oral Roberts (2004)…George Hill’s 33 pts, 7 ast, 6 reb performance at North Dakota State (2/9/08)…Hill’s near triple-double vs. UMASS 30 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists (12/1/07)…and Robert Glenn’s 37 points (15-17 FG) at Drake (11/14/09). Now you can add Young’s 43 to the list.
Side note…not listed above is the laundry list of huge games by the school’s all-time leading scorer Carlos Knox. He holds the top five highest scoring games in school history, including the all-time record of 51 points in January 1998. Forgive me Carlos for not putting you on the above list, but you are the Godfather of scoring and deserve your own list.
COMING AND GOINGS:
Lost in the Young explosion was the play of sophomore Mitch Patton. He played 23 minutes and grabbed a career high 9 rebounds. Over the last three non-conference games he has played 5 more minutes than Christian Siakam, shot a better FG% than Siakam while averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds per game. The two bigs have different styles and IUPUI will need Patton to continue to improve when league play resumes on December 30th. A best case scenario for the Jaguars is that Siakam duplicates his league numbers from a year ago and the 6-9 Patton gives the added punch of another big man. Two capable big men will go a long way when battling South Dakota State, Oakland, Oral Roberts, and the rest of the Summit League.
Assistant Coach Matt Whinrey turned in is resignation days before IUPUI was set to face Louisville. The second year assistant takes a front office job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Jags do not have any plans to replace Matt during the season and more of a load will fall on the shoulders of Associate Head Coach Matt Crenshaw and Assistant Coach David Padgett. Don’t expect the team to miss a beat because they can’t afford to look back. The talk entering the Louisville game was to move forward and get ready for the next opponent. As for Matt I wish him nothing but the best. I had the chance to really get to know him last year and the IUPUI bench job was a job he coveted. He has a back ground in the NBA spending some time with the Houston Rockets and long-term he wanted to be in a front office more than on the bench. Nobody expected the opportunity would come this quickly and he could not pass up the chance to move on. Now the question is how will his fiance take the news of moving to Cleveland Ohio?
HOME AWAY FROM HOME:
Next week the Jags will have a rematch with Ball State and renew their rivalry with Valparaiso. Both games will be at Conseco Fieldhouse. As of right now they are the only two games the Jags have planned at the Fieldhouse. The Cardinals knocked off IUPUI 69-62 November 23rd in Muncie. IUPUI trailed by just a point late, but failed to convert and BSU hit their free throws to earn the 7 point win.
The game against Valpo will be the first between the rivals since 2007. The one-time Mid-Con rivals ended their series when the Crusaders moved to the Horizon League. IUPUI is 7-15 all-time vs. Valpo winning 4 of the last 5 meetings.
Hope you can tune in tonight to the game on SportsRadio 1260 WNDE or on your smartphone by using the i heart radio app. As always I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.