The similarities between the IPFW and IUPUI men's basketball programs are eerily striking. And both have the same intention for the 2012-13 season and that is to make sure that what happened this past season, doesn't occur again.
The two Summit League programs took steps in the wrong direction under first-year coaches this past season and on Thursday, the Jaguars took a step to reverse that slide.
Former Purdue guard John Hart announced that he would be transferring to IUPUI. The Beech Grove High School product will graduate this summer and be eligible for the upcoming season.
"I was kind of torn between IUPUI and Albany, because they were both kind of offering the same thing," Hart told Gold & Black Illustrated. “"Albany had bigger facilities and things like that, but I just felt like I had more of a connection - and more of a chance to be involved with more things back home - at IUPUI."
In 63 games for the Boilermakers, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 2.6 points per game. He played in 19 games this past season and averaged 5.3 points per game.
The Jaguars finished 14-18 this year, which snapped a string of 10 consecutive winning seasons under former coach Ron Hunter. Hunter's top assistant, Todd Howard, was promoted to the head coaching position a year ago when Hunter left for the same position at Georgia State.
Likewise, Tony Jasick served under former Mastodon head coach Dane Fife, and when Fife left for an assistant position at Michigan State, Jasick was elevated to the head coaching slot.
In Jasick's first year, IPFW fell from 18 victories under Fife to just 11 wins this season. Just as IUPUI has gone in search of proven college talent to be able to step in and contribute immediately, Jasick did the same.
“In my first year, we brought in a lot of young players,” Jasick explained. “We didn't try to do a quick fix, so to speak.
But I'm not waiting until next year to try and get better. We have to get better and this summer is critical for our players and their improvement.”
IPFW signed a pair of high school players (guard Will Dunn and forward Joe Reed) in November of last year, but the Mastodon coaching staff leaned toward maturity and experience this spring and signed three junior college transfers (Kevin Harden, Luis Jacobo and Steve Forbes), two of which have already played well at the Division I level. Jacobo and Forbes both played their freshman seasons at Stetson University and were very productive for the Hatters.
“The guys that we have brought in are good players that will be able to compete right away,” Jasick said. “I think that we have a chance to be pretty good and I'm excited about next season.”