TERRE HAUTE —
The summer is when it’s usually all good for a college basketball program.
There’s no wins and losses to dissect. The new summer practice rules — which allow more contact between coaches and players — builds experience for the upcoming season.
The dead periods bring some modicum of rest for coaches. July recruiting brings promise for the future.
But there’s one part of the summer that brings nothing but stress — nonconference scheduling.
“We have one more date to get … how ‘bout we fill it today?” said Evansville coach Marty Simmons, conveying the angst when asked how long into the summer he’d be willing to wait to fill a date.
Scheduling is stressful everywhere, but especially in the Missouri Valley Conference. Major conference schools have the pick of the college basketball litter to play. Low-major conference schools can pick from the highest bidder as major conference teams dole out cash for “buy games” knowing there’s no expectation of a return game from small schools.
In the Missouri Valley Conference, it isn’t that simple. MVC programs are prominent enough where they want to host as many games as they can, but they also want to play major conference schools with some form of a return game.
The problem? Many major conference schools avoid MVC schools at any site because the risk of getting beaten is higher. As for playing at a MVC facility? MVC gyms are so toxic to many major schools that they could qualify as HAZMAT sites.
MVC schools can’t always turn to low-majors to fill schedules either because low-majors make more money in guarantees at major schools.
As of Thursday, Bradley, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois and Wichita State were the only MVC schools that had completed their schedules. Many schools still have multiple dates open. Indiana State is no exception — the Sycamores have two dates to fill.
The following games are confirmed for ISU in 2012-13:
ISU will play at home against New Mexico in the last edition of the Mountain West-MVC Challenge on Dec. 1. ISU will host High Point on Nov. 25. ISU will also host a BracketBusters game in February.
ISU will play true road games at UCLA to open the season on Nov. 9. The Sycamores also play at Ball State on Nov. 20 and Morehead State on Dec. 8.
ISU will play in the neutral site Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Dec. 22-25, and will also play IUPUI at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Dec. 15.
ISU has several irons in the fire for its remaining openings — with schools and deals of every shape and size — but has nothing confirmed.
“I hate it,” said Lansing on scheduling.
“I want to play competitive teams, whether it be on the road or at home. … I really wish we could get some BCS schools to come here a little easier, even if its a two-for-one or three-for-one, but they don’t think about that much because they don’t have to,” he added.
Some MVC schools try to beef up their schedules by waiting. A figurative game of chicken is played as a plumb date could open up at the last minute against a desirable foe. But it’s a risk and sometimes programs are left holding the bag. Drake, which has two dates left, is rolling the dice this summer.
“You get nervous. You’re checking the pulse everyday. It’s strategic. After recruiting, it’s probably the most important thing you do,” said Drake coach Mark Phelps, who did scheduling as an assistant at North Carolina State and Arizona State.
“Really, really good things can happen late. So if you’ve got the nerve to wait around and not go on something you like instead of love, you have a chance to really get your ideal team. You also take a chance in not getting it,” he added.
Inside the MVC, not all schools deal with the same paramaters.
Affluent programs like Creighton are game buyers as much as major schools are … it’s just that the Bluejays rarely convince major schools to play them in Omaha at any price.
Comparably poor programs, like ISU, have budget constraints that only allow them to buy a game or two at most.
It creates a dynamic of scheduling have’s and have not’s which can run counter to the league’s desire to have a unified front as far as scheduling to create an environment for stronger RPI, etc.
Would it be in the league’s interest — or even possible? — to assist the teams that can’t guarantee as many games?
“Everybody is different. I don’t feel or think the league wants or is in a position to try and even it out or say, ‘You can buy a certain amount of games, and if you can’t, we’re going to find a way to help.’ Everyone has different resources and each school has to do what they can with what fits their philosophy,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson said.
What the MVC does do for league scheduling is to assist in getting league schools into non-exempt tournaments. ISU’s participation in last November’s Old Spice Classic and the Diamond Head Classic this December came with an assist from the league office. Nearly every MVC team has had the good word put in for them, so to speak, from the MVC to take part in these events.
But some teams have found themselves in a position to bite the bullet and take what they can. The one-and-done “buy game” is anathema to many league schools, but many have found there to be no other choice. ISU will play its third “buy game” in as many seasons at UCLA.
Sometimes the stars align and a buy game coincides with a coach’s individual scheduling philosophy. That’s the case at Illinois State, where new coach Dan Muller scheduled a buy game at Louisville on Dec. 1. Previous coach Tim Jankovich was oft-maligned by many MVC observers for playing a weak nonconference schedule.
“I want to prepare my team for great conference play at home and on the road,” Muller said. “There was a conscious effort to use my scheduling philosophy and it just so happens I wanted to beef it up.”
Lansing admitted that for ISU it’s really not a matter of choice. Its low budget dictates that buy games make sense for the bottom line.
“We probably have the lowest budget in the Valley. We kind of need that. We kind of need to get bought,” Lansing said. “You don’t want to have to get bought, you’d rather go to a place twice and get one home game, but most schools aren’t willing to do that.”
TERRE HAUTE —
The summer is when it’s usually all good for a college basketball program.
EIU might come at right time for ISU
Sometimes an opponent lines up just right on the schedule that suits a team’s needs.
That’s true for Indiana State as it travels to play Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. today at Lantz Arena. And it’s not because the Panthers have struggled, even though they have.
Young gun: Freshman Belyea leads Engineers to second straight victory over Saint Mary-of-the Woods
Freshman women’s college basketball players sparked Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Rose-Hulman on Wednesday in Hulbert Arena. Playing her first major minutes of the season, Rose-Hulman guard Kristen Belyea was the clutch shooter for the Engineers. In the second half, Belyea knocked down 4 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc to help the Engineers earn a second straight victory in the rivalry with a 74-54 decision.
Strickland leads RHIT men to win
Rose-Hulman opened its Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball season with a 66-50 victory at Anderson University on Wednesday.
Metro: Boys county title games set for tonight
A pair of championship games in the Vigo County middle school boys basketball tournament will be played today in West Vigo High School’s main gym. At 6 p.m., Woodrow Wilson will take on Sarah Scott for the sixth-grade title. Then at about 7:30, Wilson and Honey Creek will tangle for the seventh-grade crown.
METRO ROUNDUP: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Rose-Hulman set to battle for Clabber Girl trophy
With the Clabber Girl Trophy hanging in the balance for the 21st time, the Rose-Hulman women’s basketball team will welcome crosstown rival Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to Hulbert Arena today for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.
The Engineers (0-4) will look to defend their title after capturing the Clabber Girl Trophy for the first time since 2008 with last season’s 80-74 victory.
ISU’s Underwood named first team All-MVC
Sophomore linebacker/defensive end Connor Underwood was named to the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team on Monday, heading a list of five Indiana State players honored.
Red-hot Strickland leads Engineers past Wabash 77-68
Julian Strickland tied his career-high point total with 31 Monday night — his third consecutive 30-point game this season — as host Rose-Hulman downed Wabash 77-68 in Hulbert Arena.
Metro sports: ISU women play today at No. 15 LSU
Indiana State’s women finish a three-game road swing by playing nationally ranked LSU at 12:30 p.m. today at Baton Rouge.
Rose-Hulman women fall short to Marian
A clutch 3-pointer and free throws down the stretch sealed the home victory for Marian University in Saturday’s competitive 50-45 nonconference victory over the Rose-Hulman women’s basketball team.
Strickland pours in 30, but the Engineers fall in home opener
Carroll University withstood a last-minute challenge by Rose-Hulman to earn a 67-64 men’s basketball victory in the Engineers’ home opener Saturday afternoon in Hulbert Arena.
Indiana State holds off hot-shooting Pepperdine
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is very much a work in progress defensively. Evidence of that came Saturday when Pepperdine shot 57.8 percent against the Sycamores in the fourth-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
But when it came down to winning time? Pepperdine’s Waves crashed on the rocks of ISU’s defense.
Hoosiers gain 692 total yards, re-claim Oaken Bucket
Although his team fell well short of defending its possession of the Old Oaken Bucket Saturday against Indiana, Purdue’s freshman quarterback Danny Etling — a Terre Haute South grad — showed poise and talent in bringing the Boilermakers back in the second half in a 56-36 loss.
Sycamores outpace Seawolves
Indiana State wanted a better defensive effort in its Great Alaska Shootout consolation semifinal game against host Alaska-Anchorage on Friday, but the Seawolves weren’t going to give the Sycamores an orthodox offense to assess themselves with.
Prep/Metro roundup: Marshall girls pick up big wins at Robinson
Marshall’s Lions got a huge girls high school basketball victory Friday afternoon at the Robinson Thanksgiving Tournament, downing Mt. Carmel and 2013 Illinois Miss Basketball Tyra Buss 57-53.
Uneven Sycamores fall 63-62 to Tulsa
Indiana State loses to Tulsa 63-62 in opening game of Great Alaska Shootout
Tulsa's switching defenses confounded Sycamores
Tulsa paid Indiana State the respect they feel the Sycamores earned with a 3-1 start and a win at Notre Dame on Nov. 17.
So the Golden Hurricane threw multiple defenses at the Sycamores.
On target: Sycamores spreading the wealth with their shooting
Indiana State’s men's basketball team did many things right during the 2012-13 season, but one thing it couldn’t get a handle on was its 3-point shooting. The Sycamores shot 32.1 percent from 3-point range, ranked 252nd in the nation. It was going to take a lot of work to improve ISU’s percentage. So far, hard work has had its own reward.
O’Leary eyes return to Hulman Center
Former Terre Haute North standout Matt O’Leary is hoping to help Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser turn the program into a new chapter of success in a new conference.
College report: Gardner jumps at chance to play for ISU
Cody Gardner enjoyed his freshman baseball season at Wright State and earned more time on the field than he honestly expected to get. Coach Rob Cooper departed WSU after last season to take over at Penn State, however, and Gardner jumped at the chance to return to his hometown as an Indiana State Sycamore and perform for the school where two members of his family previously excelled.
Young Evansville team unable to threaten Indiana
Indiana coach Tom Crean surprised everyone by starting senior walk-on Jeff Howard. Evansville didn’t give themselves the chance to surprise the Hoosiers.
Metro roundup: Rose star is conference POW
After a career-high 31-point performance on Saturday night, Rose-Hulman senior Julian Strickland has been named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
NCAA championships: Runners face muddy course, stiff winds as well as each other at Gibson course
More than 500 runners were prepared for a muddy course, but the NCAA’s elite also had to fight a wind chill in the teens Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Nothing was going to stop Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, who upset defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech or women’s champion Abbey D’Agostino, who adds her first NCAA title in cross country to her four national titles on the track.
ISU defeats Truman
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
In Truman State’s case, you can expect a pretty good showing. Indiana State had some nervous moments against the Bulldogs, but the Sycamores prevailed 80-69 on Friday at Hulman Center.
ISU football closes out season against SIU
Indiana State’s football team had its last practice of the 2013 season Thursday and it had a jovial climax.
Favorites look to win at NCAA cross country championships
Two consensus thoughts prevailed in the hunt for the NCAA cross country individual championships: Kenyan Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech is the heavy favorite to repeat as men’s 10,000-meter champion and Dartmouth senior Abbey D’Agostino, last year’s runner-up, will be tough to stop from winning the women’s 6,000-meter race.
ISU’s Underwood family affected by Illinois tornado
Indiana State defensive end Connor Underwood can be forgiven if football wasn’t the biggest thing on his mind this week as the team prepared for its season finale against Southern Illinois today.
New officiating edict could help ISU's Odum
For ISU, one player immediately comes to mind as far as who might benefit most from the new rules -- senior point guard Jake Odum.
Gant looms large in ISU's 2013-14 improvement
It’s no overstatement that as Justin Gant went in the 2012-13 season, so did the Indiana State’s men’s basketball team.
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Terre Haute’s Mundy helping young Hoosiers climb toward top
It didn’t take long for Chanli Mundy to find her way home from Bloomington.
The 2011 Terre Haute North all-state cross country runner arrived on the Indiana University campus this summer knowing making the varsity team might be a long shot.
But she put in the quality miles, believed in herself and is ahead of schedule as a freshman for the Hoosiers, who received an at-large berth to Saturday’s NCAA championships at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
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