After taking down Horizon league opponent Green Bay the IUPUI men's basketball locker room was vibrant. Despite having a 4-21 record, the young group, totaling ten freshmen, have refused to exhibit any form of quit in their season.
“There’s always an excitement when you win,” IUPUI men's basketball head coach Matt Crenshaw said, grinning in response to what the win has done for the locker room. “It’s all about the breakthrough and getting it out of the way.”
The Jags had lost four of their last five games by single digits leading up to Saturday, Feb 4.
The Jags had suffered multiple tough injuries throughout the start of conference play, including Bryce Monroe, brothers Armon Jarrard, Amhad Jerrard, and DJ Jackson, who was sidelined with an unknown injury before returning to help beat Green Bay.
The Jags have had fourteen players miss at least one game due to injury, which leads the country in players missing games due to injury. But now with players starting to return and Crenshaw able to push his defensive mindset on young, healthy players, the Jags were able to take down a conference rival.
One of those shining young stars was DJ Jackson. Jackson, a freshman guard who missed eleven games due to injury, is no stranger to success. In 2022, Jackson led Montverde Academy to secure the Prep National Championship with 29 points. After averaging 18.7 points per game, Jackson was selected to play in the Canadian All-American game.
Now Jackson took his high school talents right up against Green Bay. Jackson finished with 16 points, shooting 8-12 from the field against Green Bay. He also managed to finish the game with the most minutes out of any player on the team (32). Jackson reflected on how Coach Crenshaw gets the most out of his players and prepares them for game time.
“He always holds you accountable, which is a necessity as a coach,” Jackson said. “Coach constantly preaches defense. Coach Crenshaw makes sure that the whole team is constantly communicating with each other at all times.”
With Crenshaw preaching team basketball and defensive dominance, the Jags have been 4-1 this season when their opponent scores fewer than 60 points. Furthermore, leading up to Saturday's victory the Jags were second in the Horizon League in defensive rebounds per game with 33.4, further reinforcing Crenshaw’s defensive philosophy.
As far as Crenshaw sees it, basketball is a simple game.
“Do your job on the court, offensively and defensively,” Crenshaw said. “Play together throughout the adversity of the game.”