On Saturday, IUPUI’s season came to a close following a 38-point loss to IPFW in the Summit League quarterfinal. Sunday morning, the university announced that head coach Todd Howard had been removed from his position after three seasons.
Howard had compiled a 26-70 record in his three seasons on the Jaguars’ sideline.
“I’m so thankful and grateful to everyone at IUPUI,” Howard said in a statement. “It’s my favorite place in the world and I truly appreciate the support I’ve received. While I’m certainly disappointed and wish I was able to get more time, I’m extremely confident in knowing me and my staff gave our all.
“IUPUI is all I’ve known for 19-plus years and I know the hard work that has gone into building a league champion, an NCAA tournament team, an NBA draft pick and much more. In this era, we were just too young and too injured and that’s hard to overcome. I’ve helped guide hundreds of kids into becoming stellar men and my current team exemplifies this. Our GPA, our academic success and approach has never been higher.”
Howard played for Denny Crum at Louisville from 1989-1993. He was a member on the Cardinals’ coaching staff one year after his collegiate career came to an end. He then made the move to IUPUI in 1994, serving as an assistant coach for six seasons before being promoted to the associate head coach in 2001. In 2003, Howard was part of a coaching staff that helped lead IUPUI to its first NCAA tournament appearance.
When Ron Hunter left for Georgia State in 2011, Howard took over the program.
For the second straight season, the Jaguars finished last in the Summit League with identical 6-26 records. IUPUI managed to win just two conference games (2-28) in the final two seasons of Howard’s tenure.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.