1) The team became more united. Last year the Jaguars started 8 different players, the most being 24 times (Gary Patterson, in 25 games) and the least being 10 (Adrian Moss in 21 games). Only one player averaged more than 28 minutes (Patterson, 35.7). This year they started the same five (Glenn, Young, Nobles, Pettiford, and Ashworth) in all but the final game, when Pettiford had emergency surgery the night before. Every starter averaged more than 30 points, and the Summit League's 6th-Man of the Year Jon Avery averaged 25.1 minutes off the bench. This continuity was obvious, even to ESPN analysts during the Summit League Championship Game.
2) There is amazing returning talent ready to fill in the three spots being vacated. There were six core players, as per #1. However the backups (Rice, Esposito, Siakam, DeSchepper) all played VERY well, even in limited action. Greg Rice has a little ways to go, but he'll be key in helping Dayton transfer Stepehen Thomas (who will probably be the starting 1-Guard) run the offense. Sean Esposito was electric from behind the arc, and should be seeing good minutes next year as a Shooting Guard. Christian Siakam recorded a double-double this year, continuing to be a force inside. Nick DeSchepper will probably be a back up again next year though he definitely knows what he's doing on the court - he's not going to be your typical 4-minute-per-game guy. The already mentioned Thomas was supposed to start for Dayton this year, and he's going to be very instrumental in the new offense IUPUI will have to run without Rob Glenn inside.
3) Alex Young developed just like he should have. Last year Alex only averaged 10.8 points per game (a depressing 28.2% from deep and 60% from the line), had only 105 rebounds, 23 assists, and 24 steals. This year he averaged 18.3 points per game (40% from three, 67% freethrows), 163 rebounds, 43 assists, and 54 steals. Even non-numerically, Alex became a more vocal leader. His impact was felt when he was on the court, and he was severely missed while on the bench. I think if he can improve his dribbling just a little and stay out of foul trouble he can be the Player of the Year in the Summit League next year.
4) The program signed two big insider players. Donovan Gibbs is a Power Forward from Louisville that should be a major player in IUPUI's race to the top the next four years. He is one of the most highly touted recruits from the State of Kentucky, and should be able to play a mid-inside to inside game for the Jaguars who lose mid-post and low-post power. To help at that low post position, Mitchell Patton from South Knox, IN comes in as a great Center off of a successful Sectional Championship campaign. He runs the court aggressively, something very important to Ron Hunter's club who players a strict 2-3 Zone defense. He can also create some great opportunities inside, bringing well developed dribbling and footwork to the table (especially for a player his size - 6'9").
5) Winning in the post season. Last year, IUPUI had a disappointing 16-14 season, capped by a loss to Southern Utah in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament. The Jaguars were able to make the Championship this year after pulling out two extremely challenging games against Western Illinois and Oral Roberts. Though losing to Oakland in that championship game stung, they were able to bounce back and win on the road at Hofstra in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational. This gave Alex Young, Sean Esposito, Christian Siakam, Nick DeSchepper, and others their first taste of success in the post season, something extremely important heading into the 2010-2011 campaign.