Team preview: IUPUI

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 27, 2004, 5:01 PM ET
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IUPUI's Ron Hunter has a problem a lot of his coaching cohorts would love to share. Hunter has so much depth this season that he'll almost be forced to use 10 players. And nine of those 10 could easily start.

"I guess we're going to have to red-shirt some of these kids," Hunter said. "But this sets us up for three or four years."

It seems as though playing in three straight Mid-Continent Conference championship games has gotten the attention of high school players in-state and across the country. Or maybe it was Hunter's unforgettable floor act when the Jaguars clinched an NCAA Tournament berth a couple seasons back.

Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: times have changed at IUPUI. Year in and year out, when conference contenders are mentioned, those five letters get called.

"We have more talent than we've ever had," Hunter said. "This is the best shape the program has ever been in."

The Jaguars again will have Valparaiso to contend with, along with Oral Roberts. But they'll be in the thick of things again.

"It's not so much if we get [back] there [to the NCAAs] but when," Hunter said. "But it won't be a cakewalk. This is a very tough league."

Despite the wealth of returning talent, Odell Bradley, the school's first-ever Mid-Con Player of the Year, (23.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg), will be missed.

"He just had a great year for us," Hunter said. "We've had a different leading scorer each year and he was the latest guy to benefit from our system. He made great plays for us."

Bradley, who had 41 points in each of the two overtime wins over Oral Roberts, along with an 18-rebound effort against Ball State, ranked third in the conference in scoring and rebounding. He finished his career by being voted the Mid-Con Tournament MVP.

The very extension of Hunter himself – Matt Crenshaw (11.7 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.4 rpg, 1.3 spg)-also isn't back. Well, at least not on the floor.

The Mid-Con Defensive Player of the Year and a superb floor leader at the point, Crenshaw joins the Jaguars' staff as a graduate assistant.

He is IUPUI's all-time assist leader with 510. Crenshaw's average of 3.4 threes a game was sixth best in the nation. Hunter realizes the valuable commodity he had in Crenshaw, who's almost 30.

"When he got here was when the program started coming around," he said.