Indiana University Kokomo

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The Cougars basketball game scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 21, against Indiana Dabney has been cancelled.
The game will be rescheduled. Please check for updates at www.iuk.edu/athletics.

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KOKOMO, Ind. – A month is a long time for a basketball team to go between games. The Indiana University Kokomo Cougars hadn’t played a game since a Dec. 10 matchup against Ancilla College. The Cougars resumed their home schedule on Jan. 6 against Indiana Dabney University, picking up a 91-67 win, which was far from easy.Cougars_Basketball_vs._Indiana_Dabney

Like the Cougars, the Lions are in their inaugural season with a group of young players. That is just about the only similarity. Dabney had just three players on its bench while at the same time being more athletic as a whole than Kokomo. The athleticism of the Lions put the Cougars in an early hole.

Dabney’s Steve Hilal opened a 20-2 run by the Lions that left Kokomo in a 23-11 hole. IU Kokomo coach Jace Thompson acknowledged that Dabney’s style of play gave his team fits early in the contest.

“They are very athletic and they fly all over the place,” Thompson said. “They can make good teams look bad because of that.”

Kokomo ended up with 27 turnovers in the game, something that Thompson wasn’t at all pleased about. Picking up the victory soothed the pain, however.

“I told them ‘Good result but bad process,’” Thompson said. “It was a good experience for us. We can watch the tape and learn from it. We have something to work on.”

The Cougars trailed by 14, but, like other times this season, kept their composure and focus. With just under 12 minutes left in the first half, Kokomo brought the big guns. Big, in this case, meaning three-pointers. Kokomo’s Anthony Graves made the first of 15 Cougar three-pointers at 11:56 and started a run that ended with IU Kokomo leading 41-32 at the half. Nate Carroll, Jared Lawrence, and Brandon Larrick all had treys in the run while Dabney struggled from the field – scoring just five points in the last eight minutes.

The second half brought more of the same from both teams. Kokomo continued to fire away from long range, making five three-pointers in the first eight minutes while the Lions remained flat.

“We didn’t get to run any of our sets or ball screens, which is what our system prides itself on,” Thompson explained. “To put 91 points on the board without doing that is a good thing. It shows that we’ve made progress since November.”

Dabney righted the ship and made a run late in the game, cutting a Kokomo lead that had grown to 72-41, to just 77-55 with 5:30 left in the game. The Cougars kicked it up a notch and extended the lead back to the eventual 24-point margin.

Lawrence led Kokomo with 23 points and Graves with 20 points. Carroll had 16 points while Larrick finished with 12 points. Aaron Knupp and Nick George each tallied five points for the Cougars.

The Cougars return to action on Thursday, Jan. 19 at Bethel College. The next Kokomo home game is Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. at Western High School.

Story by Steve Geiselman.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, IN – A close game that is decided on a last-second shot is always exciting. But for the Indiana University Kokomo Cougars, there wasn’t much to cheer about after they dropped their home opener to the Bethel College Pilots, 84-83.

The crowd was raucous and Coach Jace Thompson was excited about the turnout, despite the loss.

20111117-iukmbb_vs_bethel_college_and_pre_game_party-iuk v. bethel 19Coach Jace Thompson sets the next play for the Cougars. See More

“It’s great to have this kind of support,” he said after the game. “You don’t see this kind of fan support at other schools.”

The game was a different story for the Cougars. Like something out of a Dickens novel, it was a tale of two halves for Thompson and his young team. Midway through the first half, IU Kokomo had exploded to a 36-11 lead, mainly on the strength of it’s inside game. Guards Anthony Graves and Johnathon Kelly were lighting things up from the outside, while forward Aaron Knupp was hitting the boards hard on both ends of the court.
But then things changed. The Cougars gave the Pilots an opening, according to coach Thompson.

“We gave a team that isn’t as good as we are hope and confidence,” Thompson said. “They took advantage of it.”

Suddenly a game that appeared to be over with IU Kokomo leading 40-14 turned into something else.
The Pilots rattled off an 18-3 run to end the first half. A scoreboard that showed a Cougar blowout five minutes before at the half read 43-34 in favor of IU Kokomo. Bethel College was knocking on the door.

“We had two starters that were injured,” Thompson explained. “We aren’t the deepest team. Things didn’t click so maybe our rotations were off.”

After some halftime adjustments, Kokomo seemed to be back on track early in the second half. Graves and Jared Lawrence spurred a 9-3 run to push it to 51-37 in favor of the Cougars. However, the Pilots held their ground and started to take control on the inside.

Bethel’s Cam Hudgins suddenly became a force in the paint and the Pilots closed the gap to 65-53. Hudgins drilled a pair of free throws at 11:14 to start another run by the visitors. Less than three minutes later, Bethel’s Caleb Hadden’s layup gave the Pilots a 66-65 lead. A 26-point Cougar advantage had completely disappeared.

“It seemed like we simply could not get a stop when we needed to,” Thompson said.  “We let it get away.”

IU Kokomo offered a response of its own and Graves hit a three-pointer at 5:41 to grab the lead back, 69-66. But Bethel, once again, put together a scoring run and score eight straight points to make it 74-72.

Lawrence and Kelly hit three-pointers for Kokomo as Hudgins was scoring on the other end. As the clock ran down under two minutes, Kokomo’s Brandon Larrick made two free throws to tie it at 80 with 1:36 left.  On the next possession, Graves stole the ball at mid-court and laid the ball to give the Cougars the lead back, 82-80. Bethel’s Hudgins countered at the other end with a layup at 1:02 to tie the game.

Larrick made one of two free throws after being fouled to give Kokomo an 83-82 lead with just 44 seconds remaining. The Cougar defense stiffened at the other end and forced Bethel into timeout with 13 seconds left. After the break, Pilot guard Tanner Foust put the ball off the glass for a layup and an 84-83 lead with eight ticks left.

Kokomo called timeout and got the ball to Graves, who drove the lane and missed with three seconds left. A Bethel defender and Knupp both came down with the ball and the whistle blew for a jump ball with one second left. The possession arrow was pointing the Pilots’ way. The ball was heaved to mid-court, where Knupp intercepted and gave it one last shot but missed left. Game over and the Pilots win 84-83.

Graves led the way for the Cougars with 25 points, including three three-pointers.  Kelly finished with 17 points and Lawrence had 16 points. Larrick tallied 11 points for the Cougars.

IU Kokomo takes the court again this Saturday in the 2K Sports Classic at Valparaiso University. The Cougars take on Valpo in the first game before facing off against the University of the District of Columbia in the second game.

Story by Steve Geiselman.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, IN - Nearly 400 excited fans filled the stands as the Indiana University Kokomo men’s basketball team played its first home game against the Bethel College Pilots on Thursday, November 17.

20111117-iukmbb_vs_bethel_college_and_pre_game_party-IMG_1164Kingston Cougar railies the "Cougar Crazies" student section. See More

The pre-game party allowed Cougar fans to join together for food, music, and fun, creating excitement for the game, sponsored by the IU Kokomo Alumni Association.

“It’s awesome to be a part of the first home game,” said Junior Skylar Bagwell. “I love sports, and I’m thrilled to support the Cougars.”

Chancellor Michael Harris also offered his support of the first home game.

“It is an exciting time for Indiana University Kokomo as we celebrate the first home game of the men’s basketball team. These events help create a sense of community, build school pride, and enhance the overall college experience,” Harris said, who set the vision for competitive sports on campus. “I am extremely grateful to those who have worked so hard to make this happen.”

Just before the start of the game, the IU Kokomo Crescendos sang the National Anthem followed by leading the crowd in singing the IU Fight Song.

A sea of red t-shirts filled out the official student section, “The Cougar Crazies,” organized by the Student Athletics and Wellness Board (SAWB). Cheers and chants echoed through the gymnasium as they supported their team.

“The student section shows the pride this group has for their school,” commented Kathryn Stremiecki, coordinator of programming and applied learning at IU Kokomo. “It’s so fun to watch students get engaged and come together to support the Cougars.”

The crowd was hyped-up and ready to watch the Cougars show off their skills.

“Bringing sports to IU Kokomo has been talked about for a while, and it’s exciting to see it unfold. I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Senior Geny Studebaker.

The IU Kokomo women’s volleyball team attended to show support for their fellow Cougars.

“I’m having so much fun already,” said sophomore volleyball player Krista Armstrong. “It’s important that us girls are here to cheer on the basketball team. We’ve all worked so hard and need support.”

Although the Cougars started strong and fought to the death, they came up short by one point, ending the game 83-84.

The next home game will be played on Thursday, December 1, against the Goshen College Maple Leafs, at Western High School, at 7 p.m.

Story by Mary Olk, intern for the Office of Media & Marketing

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, IN – After months of hard work and early morning practices, the Indiana University Kokomo men’s basketball team gears up for its first home game against Bethel College on Thursday, November 17, 7 p.m., at Western High School.

IU_Kokomo_Mens_basketball_webIU Kokomo Mens basketballA pre-game party will kick off the night beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the high school, with food, fun, and music – sponsored by the IU Kokomo Alumni Association.

The Cougars, led by Head Coach Jace Thompson, stand poised to make the 2011-12 inaugural campaign the first step in building a solid program for years to come.

Although the Cougars are a first-year squad made up of mostly freshmen, they will be tempered by the veteran presence of guard Anthony Graves (Lake County C.C.).  Graves has emerged during preseason workouts as one of the best leaders on the team, and his hard work on the court sets the example for others to follow.

Coach Thompson is also quite pleased with the leadership of the freshmen as well.  Brandon Larrick (Western HS), Jake Robertson (Tri-Central HS), and Aaron Knupp (Blue River Valley HS) have all shown that they will be leaders of the IU Kokomo Cougars as the program continues to grow.

The Cougars will make up for what they lack in size and experience with heart and grittiness.

“Our guys are great communicators and work hard together,” Coach Thompson said.  “On the defensive end they have all adapted from coming from various schools and are starting to play real well together. They will battle and be physical.”

The 2011-12 campaign will see IU Kokomo do battle against a mix of opponents, including marquee matchups against NCAA Division I Valparaiso University, and NAIA Division I St. Francis (IL).

“The key to 2011-12 is to stay focused on the process of becoming a solid team,” Thompson said. “We have some of the biggest competitors you will find, but we have to understand that good programs work on little details that become habits, and we have to build those habits.”

The Cougars opened the season with an 82-76 win over IU Northwest on November 1.

The Cougars will take part in the 2K Sports Classic, benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer.  IU Kokomo will open competition against Valparaiso University November 19 at 6 p.m., followed by a contest with the University of District of Columbia on November 20.  Both games will take place on the campus of Valparaiso University.

For more information on IU Kokomo Athletics, please visit our Web site at http://www.iuk.edu/athletics.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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Gary, ind. - Indiana University Kokomo men’s basketball team wasn’t interested in waiting to pick up their first historic win. Coach Jace Thompson and the Cougars hit the road, traveling to Gary for the first-ever men’s basketball game under the new program, and they came home with a well-earned 82-76 win over Indiana University Northwest.

IU Kokomo Cougar Basketball team.IU Kokomo Cougar Basketball team.“From the top down, our guys worked hard,” Thompson said. “This is where it paid off. It was a team win all the way around.”

Anthony Graves led the way for the Cougars with 31 points, including four three-pointers. Graves and the rest of the Cougars spent plenty of time at the foul line, shooting 39 free throws and converting 28 of them.

Chancellor Michael Harris applauds the team for winning the first game of the season.

“I am extremely proud of the team and congratulate them on their first win,” Harris said. “They are fulfilling the dream and vision of the campus by proving to be a first-rate team. This is a great, historic moment for IU Kokomo and its future as a world class regional campus.”

Lots of free throws usually mean an opportunity to win, according to Thompson.

“They tended to foul the right guys,” he said. “Graves and (Brandon) Larrick were ice up there.”

From the start, the Cougars looked and played like a veteran team – certainly not a team playing its first-ever game. Both teams battled hard in the first half, trading baskets on a regular basis. IU Kokomo took the lead for the first time, 9-6, on a three-pointer from Nathaniel Carroll. The RedHawks put together a 13-4 run midway through the first half and lead 23-17. Thompson was content to let his team play though their struggles.

“With a more veteran team, I might have called a timeout,” Thompson explained. “But, I felt they needed to play through it.” The Cougars steadied themselves and, after trailing 32-24 at one point, exploded for a 12-7 run to end the half. They trailed 37-36 at the break.

The second half saw 11 lead changes until Kokomo was able to take the lead for good with 4:29 left in the game. Aaron Knupp's put back of his own miss gave the Cougars a 70-69 lead. IU Kokomo's Nick George followed with a three-pointer, making it 73-69. However, the RedHawks would not go away and cut the lead to 78-76 with 40 seconds left. Good ball handling along with some made free throws sealed the win for Cougars.

Thompson said the key for his squad was keeping things simple.

“There’s a chalkboard in the locker room,” Thompson said. “I said that’s what the game is. You’ve been playing it since kindergarten. You just go out there and play. It’s no different. Everyone just got a little bigger. They did it. They executed.”

IU Northwest was a bigger and admittedly more athletic team. That didn’t matter, Thompson said.

“Our guys did a great job of blocking out,” he said. “They are much taller and more athletic than us. We had some guys come up huge to get some boards. That’s a big deal.”

In addition to Graves' 31 points, Larrick scored 10 points to go along with 12 rebounds, giving him a double-double to open the season. Aaron Knupp had 12 points while Jared Lawrence finished with eight points. In all, seven different Cougars scored in the game.

Some firsts

For the record, the first basket scored by an IU Kokomo player in the new era came at the hands of Graves. The point guard drove to the basket and laid the ball off the glass to register the first points for the Cougars. Graves’ speed and quickness gave the RedHawks fits the entire game as well.

Moments after Graves scored the first field goal, Larrick made the first free throws. The former Western High School standout made eight of 11 free throws in the game. The first three-pointer was Carroll’s long bomb that came on the heels of Larrick’s freebies.

The Cougars hit the road again this Friday, November 4, to take on Calumet College of St. Joseph. That game will be followed by a game against St. Francis of Chicago on Saturday. IU Kokomo opens its home schedule on Thursday, November 17, against Bethel College. All Cougar home games will be played at Western High School.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

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KOKOMO, Ind. – Tri-Central High School senior Jake Robertson this week became the first student athlete to sign a letter of intent for Indiana University Kokomo Cougars men’s basketball team.

A point guard for the Tri-Central Trojans, Robertson will attend IU Kokomo this fall, majoring in business management and playing on the men’s basketball team. IU Kokomo has announced Jace Thompson was selected as the program’s first coach.

“I’d heard IU Kokomo was going to start a men’s basketball program, but I wasn’t sure about whether or not it would be in place before my graduation from high school,” said Robertson. “As it turned out, IU Kokomo was able to get the program together and it turned into a golden opportunity for me. It seems crazy IU Kokomo has athletic teams now. I’m going to be able to play basketball with friends, and on top of that I get an IU education.”

For Robertson’s family, his decision to choose a university close to home was more than welcome.

“I was happy when he told me,” said Robertson’s mother, Teresa Long, at the letter signing. “I like the fact he will be local, able to play basketball with kids he knows, and will be enrolled in a good program. He’s been talking about going to IU Kokomo ever since he’d seen in newspapers it was going to have a basketball team.”

IU Kokomo, however, wasn’t the only school eyeing the Tri Central student, said his father, Brad Robertson, noting his son had also been considering some other area colleges.

“I’m very proud and excited for him,” said Brad. “I’m glad he’s going to be staying nearby, but I think the best part of his signing with IU Kokomo is that he’s going to be getting an IU degree close to home. When I first heard IU Kokomo was going to have a basketball program, the thought that Jake would play for them was always in the back of my mind.”

Trojan Coach Kyle Zahn added Robertson will be an asset for the new IU Kokomo team.

“I think he has a very unique opportunity and will definitely be able to bring a lot to the team, especially leadership,” said Zahn. “Jake is extremely competitive and his passion has a tendency to spread to the other team members. He makes it hard for other teams to beat him. He’s going to be hard to replace. He has a rare ability to inspire others because when he’s on the floor, everyone else is better for it.”

Thompson agreed, noting Robertson has a keen understanding of playing basketball.

“Jake has an understanding of how to win,” said Thompson. “I’m looking at having a roster of 10 to 15 guys and not all of them will be local kids. Right now, I have three other commitments, but Jake is the first to officially sign.”

In February, IU Kokomo announced competitive club sports- men’s basketball and women’s volleyball – will be added to student activities this fall semester with an eye on joining the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) by fall 2012.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Media Contact: Marie Radel
Phone: 765-455-9468
Email: meradel@iuk.edu