News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 19, 2011

FROM THE PRESS BOX: Friday wait was worth it for Indiana State

Todd Golden
The Tribune-Star

CLEVELAND — Many have seen the famous Salvador Dali painting, “Persistence of Memory.” The most memorable images in the surreal painting are unquestionably the pocket watches that are drooped over a ledge, a tree branch, etc.

Given that Indiana State’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in a decade turned out to be the last to start among the 32 games in the second (cough … first) round, you almost felt Friday as if you were transported into painting itself … and were tortured by the constant dripping of the clocks.

It was a long Friday in Cleveland for ISU and its fans. So much so, that one could be forgiven if he thought the tipoff actually occurred early this morning.

The Sycamores and Orange got down to business at an unfashionably late 10:20 p.m. It was the latest tipoff time of the season for ISU by nearly an hour.

Given that, fans and players had no choice but to bide their time. I chose to bide mine by taking in the other games at Quicken Loans Arena.

The games at Quicken Loans Arena started at 2:15 p.m. I arrived midway through George Mason-Villanova and thought the day was off to a good start when the Patriots rallied with a late 8-0 run to vanquish the overrated Wildcats 61-57 in the first of Cleveland’s second- (cough … first-) round games.

But once the Ohio State bloodletting of Texas-San Antonio began — the No. 1-seeded Buckeyes pillaged the Roadrunners in a 75-46 victory — time stood still. Minutes seemed to turn to hours, and worse, the games at the venue fell almost 30 minutes behind schedule.

It was a long enough day for observers, although ISU fans could sample the delights of Cleveland and see sights like the Rock ‘n Roll Hall Of Fame. The alumni association hosted a pep rally at the team hotel at 6 p.m., an event that was well attended by Sycamore fans.

But can you imagine what it was like for the Sycamores themselves?

ISU kept busy as best it could on Friday. It had two practice sessions that clocked in at roughly 60 minutes. One was a shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena, the other was a practice at nearby Cleveland State.

At least ISU has experience with these long tournament waits. At St. Louis, the Sycamores cooled their heels all day as they played Evansville in the last game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament quarterfinals. That game tipped at 9:35 p.m. Eastern, bright and early compared to Friday’s game.

But aside from that, the day was one long protracted wait. Assistant coaches Deryl Cunningham and Dave Ragland told me during the Xavier-Marquette game that the key was trying to keep the Sycamores off their feet, but mainly, the players watched the Friday games just like everyone else did.

But just when you thought the Friday marathon wait was a drag, you saw the faces of the Sycamores as they went through pre-game introductions.

Jake Odum broke a wide grin and patted Jake Kelly on the shoulder, joking as always.

Carl Richard was his usual stoic self. So was Myles Walker. Dwayne Lathan chest-bumped Isiah Martin. So did Aaron Carter.

All of the other Sycamores took in the moment as they had their eyes on the Jumbotron as they shook their teammates hands. They wanted to see themselves on the big stage too.

When the Sycamores take the floor, you could tell the long day was worth the wait.

And by the time you read this, you’ll know whether they saved the best NCAA moment for last.



Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at todd.golden@tribstar.com or at (812) 231-4272. Please read his blog at http://blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley.