TERRE HAUTE —
The progress Indiana State’s men’s basketball team has made over the last two weeks is considerable.
The Sycamores own three wins over teams that were in the RPI top 50 at the time the teams were beaten. ISU has won four out of its last five, with the only setback a close loss to No. 19 San Diego State in Hawaii.
The reward for ISU is that it’s ranked in the high 20s or low 30s in the RPI, depending on which method is used. Its strength of schedule is even better, ranking near 20th in the nation.
While it’s absurdly early to put much stock in RPI rankings on Jan. 2, on their current path, the Sycamores would be in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Sycamores’ recent success is that they’ve enjoyed it despite the fact that there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
ISU has not always played its best, and yet, has found ways to win. While that’s been an encouraging sign, the Sycamores can ill afford to let anything slip as it heads to Northern Iowa at 8 p.m. tonight for its first MVC road game.
“Oh man, there’s so much room for improvement. I think we’re so far away from our potential. We realize that and that’s why we haven’t been paying too much attention to these last few games,” ISU forward Manny Arop said.
Sometimes teams will ride a collective hot hand to string together a series of wins, but that hasn’t been the case for the Sycamores.
While players like Justin Gant and Devonte Brown have made significant improvements, others, like Dawon Cummings and Khristian Smith, have struggled from the field.
Cummings is 3-for-18 from the field in ISU’s last three games. Smith has averaged three points per game and is 6-for-30 from the field in ISU’s last four games. Both, however, have made their presence felt on the defensive end.
“The nice thing about these guys is they realize they can improve. All of them can get better, coaches included. I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of how good we can be. The harder we go at it in practice, we’ll get better faster too,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Other regulars have struggled at times too. Jake Odum has admitted after recent games that he could play better. Arop has also forced the issue offensively at times, though both players have been very valuable at other times.
“They’ve talked to me about reading the defenses better. I need to get my feet in the paint and create more. We’re talking about reading and reacting,” Arop said.
Within the Missouri Valley Conference, ISU’s team stats are pedestrian. ISU ranks seventh in scoring (68.4), eighth in scoring defense (66.2) and ninth in scoring margin (+2.2) and shooting (42.1).
Despite being one of the top three RPI teams in the MVC at present, the Sycamores only rate in tje top three in two team statistical categories: rebounding (second at 36.5) and defensive rebounds (second at 26.4).
Northern Iowa, picked to finish third in the MVC, has a veteran team as all five of its starters have significant experience.
With their veteran presence, the Panthers loaded up their nonconference schedule. UNI (7-6, 0-1) went 0-3 at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and also lost to Iowa and UNLV. The Panthers defeated George Mason and St. Mary’s.
The Panthers opened MVC play at Wichita State on Sunday and struggled badly in a 66-41 loss. At one point, the Shockers led by 30 as the Panthers struggled mightily to score. UNI had just 18 points at halftime.
Despite the heavy loss, UNI coach Ben Jacobson remained high on his team
“I don’t think you can beat a team like St. Mary’s a week ago and have a game like this, then start to wonder how good you are,” said Jacobson after Sunday’s loss, as reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier. “I don’t think that’s an issue right now, at all.”
Lansing feels the same way. Much as ISU does, UNI wants to grind games out. UNI also tries to limit possessions, so each trip down the floor has to be valued by the Sycamores. Turnovers, in particular, have to be kept to a minimum.
Though they are prone to offensive lapses, the Panthers are a tough out, despite the fact ISU has won three of the last four in the series.
“We have to be patient and we have to defend for a longer stretch. They’re not a team like Illinois State where they’re looking for transition. They’ll grind us, so we need discipline on defense,” Arop said.
ISU split the series with UNI last season with each team winning on its home floor.
Sycamores looking for 2-0 start in Missouri Valley
TERRE HAUTE —
The progress Indiana State’s men’s basketball team has made over the last two weeks is considerable.
IU holds Oakland marksman in check
Oakland’s Travis Bader came into Tuesday night’s game at Indiana University’s Assembly Hall as the NCAA’s active leading 3-point shooter in men’s basketball.
The Hoosiers didn’t give him a chance to shoot the Grizzlies to an upset.
Bader’s NCAA-leading streak of games with a made 3-pointer ended at 62 as IU cruised to an 81-54 win.
Tough defeat: Inability to finish drops ISU women’s record to 3-4
It wasn’t a smooth ride for Indiana State’s women’s basketball team against IUPUI on Monday. Defense wasn’t up to par. Turnovers were rampant. Foul shooting was not consistent and misses were ill-timed.
ISU’s Munn, ex-Riverton Parke player Dickey earn MVC honors
Wabash VaIley athletes swept Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball honors on Monday, with Indiana State’s Anna Munn named Player of the Week and Evansville’s Sara Dickey, a Riverton Parke graduate, earning Newcomer of the Week honors.
Strong defensive effort keys RHIT victory
Rose-Hulman placed three players in double figures and relied on a strong defensive effort to top Millikin 64-55 in men’s college basketball action Monday night.
Metro: Indiana Hall of Fame lauds two Wabash Valley athletes
Two players from the Wabash Valley have been named members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team that will be honored in March. Tony McGee and Kenny Rowan are members of the honor team.
ISU picks up the defense to take down Eastern Illinois
When it's cold outside, it takes a while for your car engine to crank.
It wasn't cold inside Eastern Illinois' Lantz Arena on Saturday, but the same principle applied for the Indiana State men's basketball team.
Once the Sycamore engine revved up, the Sycamores cruised to a 66-48 victory over the Panthers.
Michigan State shakes up national title chase with win over Ohio State
Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.
The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook's 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.
Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court
Winning basketball teams need glue players, the term sometimes used when referring to someone who helps hold it all together.
In some cases, that means getting the ball in the right place at the right time. Or having a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
It’s more often than not coming away with a loose ball on the court. It’s deflecting so many passes that you become the player that most annoys the opponent.
For Indiana State, that’s Natasha Zurek. The junior athletic training major was inserted into the starting lineup for the past two games.
Zurek leads the Sycamores with 16 steals through six games, which isn’t surprising to anyone on the team.
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.
- More College Headlines
- IU holds Oakland marksman in check