Last night’s 70-67 victory for the IUPUI Jaguars women’s basketball team over first place South Dakota State University was huge. With the season sweep of the Jackrabbits, the Jags have a firm grip on second place in The Summit League standings with an 8-3 record (15-9 overall).
It was an ugly game for both teams, really.
* A total of 53 personal fouls were called
* The Jags were only 17-31 from the free throw line
* SDSU wasn’t much better at 24-37
1. Rebounding. IUPUI grabbed 18 offensive boards, which led to 17 second chance points. I’ve always said the team that rebounds is the team that wins.
2. Katie freakin’ Comello. She was lights-out in the second half, hitting five three-pointers to spark the Jags’ offense late in the game. And these were not all wide open jumpers. At least two of them were well guarded, yet she was unstoppable.
It remains to be seen where this game ranks this season in terms of signature wins. Here’s something to consider, though: South Dakota State is in first place and only one conference team has beaten them this season: the IUPUI Jaguars.
To understand just how significant this season is for IUPUI, you have to consider where it’s been.
A Brief History Lesson.
Exactly three years ago today, the IUPUI Jaguars women’s basketball team lost to lowly Centenary College, 67-57. It was Centenary’s only win in the conference that season. IUPUI finished the 2009-10 season 3-26 overall with a 2-14 conference record and missed the conference tournament. A tournament where, just two seasons earlier, the Jags were in the championship game.
As dismal a 3-26 season is, it paled in comparison to the off-court drama that unfolded. Long story short, NCAA violations, the public embarrassment of an expose of internal strife between players and coaches, and the dismissal of a controversial head coach just prior to the beginning of the 2010-11 season left the Jags in complete disarray. To right the ship, the program tapped men’s assistant coach Austin Parkinson to step in and guide the program on an interim basis.
Despite finishing 4-24—just one win better than the previous season—the Jags showed promise by adopting Parkinson’s attitude of never quitting. With the “interim” label removed from Parkinson’s title heading into the 2011-12 season, the Jags finished 13-19 and earned a berth in the conference’s postseason tournament, where they won their quarterfinal game.
Back to the Now.
In just three seasons, Austin Parkinson has taken a team that could barely win a game and has them firmly in second place in their conference, boasting two wins over the first place team and on the verge of its first winning season in four years.
Last night’s win is no guarantee of future success. It does, however, represent the grit and determination the Jags have shown just to reach this point. I don’t think anyone believed three years ago Parkinson could turn things around as quickly as he did. From doormat to contender in three years? No, it’s no guarantee of future success, but I certainly like the direction the team is going.