TERRE HAUTE —
Is Alec Houpt the good-luck charm for Rose-Hulman athletics?
Should his likeness appear on a box of Lucky Charms cereal?
Houpt admits he’s not a star in any sport, yet he’s been a member of four teams that have advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament. They were men’s soccer as a sophomore (2011) and senior (2013) and men’s basketball as a sophomore (2011-12) and junior (2012-13).
Now the 6-foot-5 senior has a chance to become the first athlete in school history to make five NCAA Division III appearances in team sports. The only other Rose athlete to appear in four was 1990s basketball/baseball standout Bryan Egli.
The 2013-14 Engineers’ basketball team (19-4 overall) leads the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings at 14-2. Two regular-season games — including tonight’s at Franklin — and perhaps two more games in the HCAC tournament remain for Houpt and his teammates in the next few weeks.
So back to the original question: Is Houpt a good-luck charm?
Well, he prefers not to phrase it that way. But most Rose-Hulman supporters would agree he’s not the obvious primary reason for his teams’ success stories.
In soccer this past season, which ended with Rose reaching the final 16, Houpt was a back-up goalkeeper who allowed zero goals in just four games played. He combined with starter Drew Miller on four shutouts.
In basketball this season, he’s seeing a lot more playing time, averaging 7.3 points points per game (third on the team) and 3.8 rebounds (also third) in 21 games at forward (20 as a starter).
Basically, he’s a solid role player. Nothing wrong with that.
But in 2012-13, when coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers reached the DIII tourney for the second straight season, Houpt averaged 2.7 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 25 games as a reserve. In 2011-12, he averaged only 0.9 ppg and 0.2 rpg in nine games as a reserve.
So if Houpt isn’t a good-luck charm and he isn’t a dominating star player in any sport, why is he almost always on championship teams?
Shaw believes Houpt’s frequent association with winners is “more than a coincidence.”
“I think the basketball team and the soccer team the last few years have had good players and had great seasons,” Shaw explained. “And I think Alec has contributed in his own way, whether it’s when he’s playing or when he’s not playing.
“He does have a great attitude. I think he leads by example. I think he’s a real positive influence on younger players. I think he’s a positive influence by the way he goes about his work every day and how coachable he is. Plus, his actual work on the court has been extremely valuable to us this year. And last year, off the bench for the second half of the year, inside he was extremely valuable.”
“We’ve had great success since I’ve come to Rose-Hulman, so we kind of have a level of excellence that we expect of ourselves,” Houpt told the Tribune-Star. “I’ve been very fortunate just with my timing to be here.”
Although Houpt prefers to follow Shaw’s recommendation of taking one game at a time, he acknowledged how much he would enjoy a fifth NCAA appearance.
“It would be great,” he said. “It would really cap off a great senior year to be able to go to the NCAA tournament in both sports. It’s just been a great ride.”
Riding a seven-game winning streak as Shaw’s Engineers try to hold off Defiance for first place and the right to host the semifinal and championship games of the conference tournament, Houpt assessed the ups and downs of the basketball team in his first season as a starter.
“We had a little bit of a rough start,” the Chesterton High School graduate noted. “I joined the team late because of soccer. … I missed the first two games, then I came back and didn’t start the first game [the team’s third game]. But after that, I’ve started every game. It’s been a lot of fun.
“Last year, I was kind of a role player coming off the bench. I had to take a little bit of a different angle this year, playing a little more. I’m just trying to work hard. We’re all having fun. Obviously, we’re doing pretty well because we’re at the top of the HCAC right now.”
Houpt estimated that he needed “about a week or so” to regain his stamina at the beginning of basketball season after making a quick transition from soccer in November.
“The conditioning is a little different, considering I play goalie for soccer,” he said. “So I don’t do a whole lot of running [for soccer]. … My game’s never been focused around being a highly skilled player or shooter. I just work hard, work smart. So I come back into basketball pretty easily. I’ve been doing it my whole life [including high school], kinda switching back and forth between the two.”
A mechanical-engineering major, Houpt plans to attend graduate school in the fall to study aerospace engineering, so he knows his career in organized basketball is coming to an end soon.
He just doesn’t want it to end too soon.
“We’re looking to win the [HCAC] regular-season title outright, host the [HCAC] tournament, win that again, make the NCAA [Division III] tournament and hopefully get a win this year if we make it,” Houpt replied when prodded about his goals for the remainder of this season.
For all that to happen, Houpt realizes he will need to contribute consistently.
“I just need to keep working hard and keep taking advantage of my opportunities,” he said. “Julian [Strickland] does a large part of the scoring for us. Everybody else has our roles. And from time to time, each of us has to step up and score in double figures. We get a lot of contributions from everyone. … We’re a very balanced team.”
Shaw, for one, isn’t worried about whether Houpt will contribute or not because he’s confident that Houpt will.
“He just needs to keep doing the same things he’s been doing — just playing one game at a time,” the veteran coach said. “‘One game at a time’ is a cliché, but just because something is a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true. … We’re really just focused on playing the next game and getting better every day in practice. That’s something that Alec works on every day.”
Shaw then described what Houpt does well as a player.
“He battles defensively,” Shaw pointed out. “He’s a really smart defender. He’s a good help defender.
“From an offensive standpoint, Alec has really established himself in the league as someone other teams have to concern themselves with because he does a great job of making himself available for mid-range jumpshots and cuts to the basket.”
Shaw admits that Houpt possesses limitations as a player, but nothing that negatively impacts his role with the team, especially with Strickland and his 22.8-ppg average around to spark the offense.
“Alec’s not a guy who creates a lot of shots for himself,” Shaw said. “But we already have a couple of those guys, primarily Julian. But he’s really good at finding holes in the defense to make himself available and he can finish the play with a little jumpshot or a layup.
“He’s not a tremendous athlete in terms of his ability to jump, but he knows how to position his body and get shots up around the basket.”
Most importantly, somehow, Houpt knows how to win.
TERRE HAUTE —
Is Alec Houpt the good-luck charm for Rose-Hulman athletics?
Metro: Former Miss Softball joins Purdue staff
Terre Haute North graduate Megan Ciolli Bartlett, the state’s 2001 Miss Softball and a two-time All-American at Notre Dame, is joining the Purdue coaching staff.
Metro: ISU graduate Johnson sixth in shot at Monaco
Indiana State graduate Felisha Johnson competed in her first International Association of Athletics Federations Diamond League track and field meeting Friday, placing sixth in a shot put competition that featured six of the top seven throwers in the world for 2014.
Riley 10s go 4-1, place second in state tourney
Riley’s 10-and-under all-star team finished as runner-up over the weekend at the Cal Ripken baseball Central Indiana tournament.
A new era: ‘Bittersweet day’ as Loyd takes over for ailing Shaw as Rose-Hulman men’s basketball coach
Rose-Hulman President James Conwell couldn’t have been more accurate Monday afternoon when he called it “a bittersweet day” for his school.
Metro roundup: Odum to work out with Lakers
Terre Haute native and former Indiana State guard Jake Odum will have two more workouts before next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Odum will work out with the Los Angeles Lakers today. Odum will have a second workout with the Orlando Magic next week before the draft.
Metro sports: Cassell wins Lawrence County title
Chris Cassell put together two rounds of 4-under-par 68 for a two-shot victory for his first Albright Motors Lawrence County Open championship on Sunday.
Rose-Hulman loses NCAA baseball opener
Rose-Hulman held a 2-1 lead until the bottom of the eighth inning when No. 6-ranked St. Thomas (Minn.) rallied with three runs in the eighth to earn a 4-2 win in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Central Regional double-elimination baseball tournament Wednesday afternoon at Augustana College.
Metro: Indiana State women to visit Costa Rica
The Indiana State women’s basketball team will embark on a week-long foreign tour to Costa Rica on Aug. 9-16.
Metro roundup: Rose to face St. Thomas in NCAA baseball
The Rose-Hulman baseball team will travel to Augustana University in Moline, Ill., to compete in the six-team NCAA Division III Central Regional, starting Wednesday.
Metro: Rose men win another HCAC all-sports trophy
Rose-Hulman has won the 2013-2014 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s All-Sports trophy, the conference announced Monday.
Metro roundup: ISU’s Wampler makes national watch list
Indiana State’s Tyler Wampler has been named to the watch list for the 2014 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year award.
Metro/Prep roundup: ISU softball loses home finale 2-1 in 12 innings
A trio of solo homers were the only scoring Sunday afternoon as Drake outlasted Indiana State 2-1 in 12 innings in the Sycamores’ last home softball game of the 2014 season.
Metro golf: Jones, Keen survive three-way playoff at Brazil
Tom Jones and Chris Keen went overtime to win a two-man scramble concluded Sunday at Forest Park.
Metro roundup: Rose swimmer honored as CCIW’s best
Rose-Hulman sophomore Orion Martin of Dublin, Ohio, has been named the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Male Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive year, according to voting by league coaches.
Metro roundup: ISU trails by 4 with 18 holes left
Indiana State is four shots out of the lead and McCall Christopher five shots from the individual lead after the second of three rounds of the Missouri Valley Conference golf championships was completed Monday at Panther Creek Country Club.
Rose-Hulman’s Schultheis brothers making mark in HCAC indoor, outdoor championships
Four words you won’t hear used together during a Rose-Hulman track practice: “Schultheis, get over here.”
If someone were to mistakenly make that request, three brothers from the same family might respond.
Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium
The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings
Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.
Rose-Hulman baseball goes to 7-0 in HCAC
Rose-Hulman improved to 7-0 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball action and won its ninth straight game with an 8-4 victory over Franklin on Tuesday night at Art Nehf Field.
Rose battled back from deficits of 2-0 with two runs in the fourth and 4-2 with two more in the fifth to knot the score at 4-4. A three-run sixth inning and clutch pitching in the eighth secured the victory.
Dedicated to helping others
It’s not like Marissa Stout is bored out of her mind and lacking for things to do.
Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC
Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.
Metro sports: Rose's Stull, Schultheis earn HCAC honors
Rose-Hulman took two Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honors this week, with Andrew Stull and Austin Schultheis recognized for their work over the weekend.
Rose-Hulman's Orion Martin is All-America swimmer
Rose-Hulman sophomore Orion Martin became the third All-America swimmer in Engineers history Thursday night, placing seventh in the men’s 100-yard butterfly in the NCAA Division III championships at the IUPUI Natatorium.
Metro sports: Alvarez helps ISU softball gain home sweep
Junior Yvette Alvarez pitched a complete-game win in the opener and hit her first career home run in the second game to lead the Indiana State softball team to a doubleheader sweep in its home opener Wednesday at Price Field.
Metro sports: Strickland earns spot in national all-star game
Rose-Hulman’s Julian Strickland will participate in the Reese’s® Division III College All-Star Game at the NCAA Division III Final Four this weekend.
Rose’s Stull pitches well in losing cause
Andrew Stull made a strong bid to stay in the Rose-Hulman baseball starting pitching rotation Friday evening, but his lack of support — offensively and defensively — still added up to a 7-0 loss as the Engineers opened the Rose-Hulman Invitational against Concordia Chicago.
Metro Sports: ISU baseball’s winning streak halted at 12
The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks scored on a walk-off single in the ninth inning to end Indiana State’s 12-game winning streak in baseball with a 3-2 victory Friday at Brooks Field.
Another Rose freshman making big splash
The Rose-Hulman men’s swimming team received a much-needed boost last season when a talented freshman from Ohio entered to set school records, rack up conference titles and qualify for the NCAA Division III championships. So when the Rose women’s swimming team needed a boost this season, what did it do? Yep, the Engineers found another talented freshman from Ohio to do pretty much the same things.
Metro sports: Indiana State's Abdul-Qaadir honored by MVC again
Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir of Indiana State has been named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week for women’s basketball, the league announced Monday.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
- More Rose-Hulman Headlines
- Metro: Former Miss Softball joins Purdue staff