In one of those gloriously only-in-the-21st-century moments, I didn’t have to go far at all to learn what an IUPUI is. Earlier this season, I “met” Michael Hadley, an IUPUI student and the biggest fan of the Jaguars basketball team, on Twitter, where a shared appreciation of mid-major basketball led to a fast friendship despite a vast age difference (get off my lawn!) and the fact our alma maters are separated by half a country.
Of course, relations have grown far frostier since late Sunday night, when the you-gotta-be-kidding-me news broke: Hofstra is hosting IUPUI in the first round of the CBI tonight. Seriously, what were the odds of that?
But in between exchanging prank calls and computer viruses (open that file, dude, it’s fine!), Michael and I agreed to a friendly wager (when Hofstra wins, he’ll send me a souvenir from Indianapolis Motor Speedway; should Hofstra elect to forfeit, I’ll send him a Billy Joel CD) and to conduct Q&As in which we’d discuss our schools. So here’s that big jerk Michael with all you could ever want to know about IUPUI, which sure sounds like the midwestern version of our beloved Hofstra. Visit his blog at http://www.studentonsports.blogspot.com/ for more on Michael and the IUPUI program as well as my Q&A—and be nice to him when the Flying Dutchmen win tonight!
Was IUPUI named by someone drunk on alphabet soup?
My best guess is that the people getting the schools to combine decided to go for the longest name in the nation...rumor has it they succeeded, though some say there are other schools with longer names. Sometimes I like to pretend that's not one of the only "claims-to-fame" that we have. Then I remember it is and...oh well.
Would you like to buy ANOTHER vowel?
I like the U's, and the I's make sense...though I feel like an A could be helpful.
Seriously, tell us about the dual affiliation with Indiana and Purdue. How did this come about?
IU always had their medical and dental schools in Indianapolis (MUCH larger community than Bloomington), and Purdue put some of their schools here, too. By the 60s they had begun talks about giving Indy another school (other than School of Sports Medicine, Butler, U Indy). In 1969 they combined IU and Purdue into a whole new IUPUI. We don't receive funding from either, but do obtain a degree from "IU" or "Purdue" depending on which program we go through (I'm at the IU School of Liberal Arts). We're 8th on the "Up and Coming" list of school which is really awesome for a school as new as IUPUI. Ohio State is #9 to give you some perspective.
What year are you at IUPUI and were you a fan of the team before you got to campus?
I'm in my second year at IUPUI - not necessarily a sophomore because I've changed my major and can only take 12 credit hours a semester. I've always loved "Mid Major" sports, though I didn't know IUPUI existed until my junior year of high school (a teacher told me they have a great Computer Science program). Once I saw the campus I fell in love, and applied to both IUPUI and Eastern Michigan. I began following IUPUI basketball the following fall (which culminated in the notorious "Mascot Fight" at the Summit League Tournament), including first-round NBA Draft Pick George Hill (GH3!!!). It was an easy love, Ron Hunter is one of the most animated and generous (see: Samaritan's Feet) coaches in D-1 basketball, and the players all know us (Facebook!) and openly appreciate everything we do for them.
I read where 89% of the IUPUI student body is from Indiana. What is student life like on campus? Comprised more of commuters or residents?
We only have about 5% of students live on campus...so...commuters. We have a terrible problem getting people to games (average of 20 "Red Zoners" and probably 800 other fans per game). Then again all student life suffers, its not just basketball turnout. Most students are older (lots of people "coming back to school") and aren't interested in on-campus activities.
Along those lines: IUPUI is a fairly new D-I program in a state that loves its college basketball and has the Colts and Pacers as well. Has it been tough for IUPUI to gain a foothold among the student body and community?
We're really trying to gain support in the community...but it's hard when OMG IU and OMG PURDUE and OMG COLTZ dominate everything. We didn't even have a write up for over half of the games in the Indy Star. We play a few games each year at Conseco Fieldhouse (home of the Pacers) and I am personally trying to spark interest in Indianapolis-based businesses in advertising/promoting the games. As we get better and continue to win (like against Hofstra), it will get better.
Describe the atmosphere at an IUPUI game.
Well the "general public" are there for a show. This year it was Robert Glenn and Alex Young, in the past it's been others. We students are absolutely insane (my signs are always a hit with everyone), and the players are almost all local (3 of the 5 starters went to school within 15 minutes of campus, and I think 4 bench players did the same). IUPUI didn't lose a game at The Jungle this year, boasting a very impressive margin of victory (my guess is 12+ points) including a 24-point blowout of Summit Champion Oakland on whiteout night (created by yours truly). There are chants, lots of "SUCKS!" and plenty of opposing-coach harassing. (My favorite was during the Duquesne game..."HEY COACH,THIS IS PRETTY EMBARRASSING HUH" which resulted in a death stare from him.)
IUPUI sounds like something that is easy to chant, both as a fan and a foe. What are some of the best chants you've heard on both sides of the aisle?
IUPUI never really has any opposing fans that chant at us, and if they do we easily drown them out. Some of our favorites are "The White Stripes Chant" (Ohhhhh, oh oh oh ohhhh ohhhh) with one-to-go in each half; "HEY #(number), YOU SUCK"; "YOU LET THE WHOLE TEAM DOWN" during free throws; and of course "AY5! AY5! AY5!" when Alex scores/dunks/etc.
Give us New York snobs the lowdown on the Summit League: The good, the not-so-good and everything in between.
This year there were 3 great teams (Oakland, IUPUI, and Oral Roberts...tee hee), 2 competitive but not dangerous teams (South Dakota State and North Dakota State), 3 eh...teams (UMKC, IPFW and Western Illinois) and 2 God-awful teams (Southern Utah and Centenary). Really anyone could win on any given night, but the top-3 were the best by far. Next year will be different, a lot of the bottom teams have a lot of people coming back.
Who is IUPUI's biggest rival?
Probably ORU, though Oakland is getting there. IUPUI has a lot of trouble with ORU, and even more so in Tulsa. Robert Jarvis (graduated last year) lit us up big at The Jungle, despite my "HEY JARVIS, YOU SUCK" sign. This year the 2 games we played in the regular season were decided by a TOTAL of 4 points.
What is your fondest memory as an IUPUI fan? And your most painful memory?
Fondest by far was winning by 24 over Oakland. They played T.I's “What You Know” right after the buzzer sounded, and the players mobbed us. Least fond are three-fold, all from this year. 1) Losing on a last-second shot (at Conseco, we consider it a neutral-site game...) to Ohio. 2) Losing on a last second shot in overtime to IPFW. 3) Losing to Oakland in the tournament. All three sting still.
Tell us about IUPUI's best players, Robert Glenn and Alex Young.
Robert Glenn is a beast. He's too athletic for a center to guard and too strong for a forward to guard. He can post up outside (though he tends not to), he can drive inside (yep.) and best of all he feed off of opposing AND our energy. I'd be shocked if he never played NBA basketball. Definitely not a first-rounder, but he'll be there. Alex Young has the most upside of any Summit League player. Last year he was forced to take over the 2-guard spot after GH3 left a year early and struggled. This year he has been hot and cold, going for 30 points one game then 8 and fouling out the next. He has an amazingly smooth shot (he's a lefty, they make everything smooth), he is good for 1-2 show-stopping dunks a game, but he plays outside of his ability too much sometimes. If he continues on his improvement-path, he'll be an NBA pick for sure. Side note: They were one of two tandems to go for 18+ PPG each in all of NCAA D-1 basketball.
How long will it take you to get over Hofstra's lopsided victory?
As soon as I get my copy of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits I'll be fine. Jags by six! 81-75.