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March 1, 2009

From the Press Box: Tunnell deserved a good day

From the time he stepped foot on Indiana State’s campus in 2005, it hasn’t been easy for Indiana State senior forward Jay Tunnell.

The tally since Tunnell came to ISU as a highly-touted freshman from Topeka, Kan., is as follows: two coaches, three (at least) knee surgeries, 51 victories, 70 losses, 112 starts, 1,133 points.

ISU has had great moments during Tunnell’s career — a win over Indiana during Tunnell’s freshman year and his own 8-for-9 3-point explosion against Illinois State this season among them — but also a lot of down times. Players have left or been asked to leave, coaches have not been retained, losing streaks have ruined seasons. Very rarely during Tunnell’s career was there ever a medium between great and horrid.

Through it all, Tunnell was the same. Affable, easy to talk to, he’s been an eloquent representative of the basketball team, whether things were good or bad.

So given the turmoil that has sometimes surrounded his career, to be the lone senior on the day ISU finally broke its strange eight-game Senior Day/Night losing streak — ISU defeated Missouri State 69-52 — seemed appropriate. Why not? All kinds of other streaks have begun and ended during Tunnell’s career, why not this one?

Tunnell deserved a good day and he got one. Moreover, he’s arguably the biggest reason ISU is headed to St. Louis on a high note instead of limping down the stretch, having won six of its last seven games. The confidence the Sycamores have has been projected from Tunnell, a kind of positive senior leadership you’d expect from Tunnell, who is almost always positive with his teammates.

“As soon as the game was over and we got the win, it was such a great feeling with the reception that people gave me. It really makes you appreciate them, knowing they they’re giving you the love that you’ve put into basketball for four years here,” Tunnell said.

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