Fueled by resilience and a collective determination to reshape their narrative, the Jaguars of IUPUI are rising above recent challenges. After a 5-27 season in 2022-2023, coupled with a 3-26 record the year before, the time for change is now.
The team has started the season with a 3-6 record, securing victories over Spalding, Valparaiso, and Cleary University.
“On the court we want to make sure we want interchangeable guys that can do multiple things and guys who can have an impact on the game,” assistant coach Antwain Banks said. “Off the court is a bigger piece to the puzzle by making sure the player fits on our team and succeeds in an academic setting.”
In their game against Valpo, the Jags showcased a great second half, shooting 47% and sinking 5 out of 9 attempts from beyond the arc. The team's defense held Valpo to under 32% shooting for the entire evening, securing a notable victory that placed the Jags at a 2-0 start, a feat not accomplished since 2009.
Qwanzi Samuels, a 6-foot-9 forward who averages 19.6 minutes for the Jags said that the game against Valpo is a great stepping stone in the season.
“Our best game of the season was against Valpo, we had a bunch of great energy and played together.”
This win against Valpo can be used as a litmus test to demonstrate what the Jags are capable of for the rest of the season: playing hard nose defense and grinding out wins against teams. Coupled with points from their best players, they could continue to improve their win total from last year.
The Jaguars have young, talented players like junior Jlynn Counter, an All-Horizon League performer, along with sophomores Vincent Brady and DJ Jackson, both recognized in the All-Freshman Team. Bryce Monroe, an important player for the Jags last year who averaged 12 points per game before sustaining an injury early in the season, is bouncing back.
The Jags currently sit at 3-6 and have lots of room to improve, however Samuels is optimistic that the team will continue to get better.
“I think we have a lot to prove as a team,” Samuels said, “We feel like we are better than what the rankings have put us. We just need to play our brand of basketball and play together.”
As the Jaguars continue to play Horizon League teams, the narrative is clear – the Jags key to winning is low scoring games and being a defensive-minded team.