TERRE HAUTE —
Soooo … who wants to talk about the 2012 Indiana State men’s basketball season?
It’s funny. Ever since Tuesday’s hard-to-fathom, fall-from-ahead 67-60 loss to Robert Morris in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Hulman Center, anyone who had a stake in the 2012 season — fans, etc. — couldn’t run far enough away from it.
There’s really no point in doing a lengthy autopsy here. ISU’s season was defined by lack of toughness. ISU coach Greg Lansing put it another way, repeatedly saying during the season that the team, “couldn’t handle success.” Very true.
Yet another way to put that is that the Sycamores’ 2011 NCAA Tournament run, and expectations that came from it going into the season, conspired to create overconfidence. Too often forgotten by the Sycamores in the multitude of disappointing 2012 performances was the work ethic displayed by the 2011 team that got them to a point of earning expectations to begin with.
The 2011 team was hungry and had something to prove. The 2012 team? Too often they walked into a gym wondering why the food wasn’t already on the plate.
Even the unquestioned highlight of the season — the 61-55 win at No. 25 Vanderbilt on Dec. 17 — probably worked against the Sycamores in hindsight. The last thing this particular ISU team needed was a belief that they had arrived prior to the Missouri Valley Conference season. One 2-7 MVC start later, they had arrived all right — in ninth place.
(From a basketball standpoint, the Sycamores also missed Aaron Carter. Carter was a decent defender during his senior season and ISU did not have an effective combination shooter-driver in 2012 in his mold.)
The bittersweet taste of an 18-15 season that left hungry ISU fans feeling empty in its wake has been understandably disconcerting. I’ve heard more than one ISU fan say the 2011 season was a mirage — that the NCAA Tournament bid was the by-product of three days of good fortune in St. Louis and wasn’t representative of where the program really is.
As gloomy as some of my assessments of 2012 are, this is where I light a candle in the darkness. I’m not buying it that the program is stuck in neutral.
The truth of where ISU’s program is lies somewhere in-between. Were expectations of MVC contention too much for the 2012 Sycamores to handle? Clearly. But is this team capable of better than eighth place? They are. And for all of the angst that that the 2012 season produced, there is hope for 2013.
It starts with junior-to-be Jake Odum, but it only partly has to do with his on-floor production. Odum is the unquestioned leader of this team — on and off the floor — for the next two years.
There’s no one on the roster who has the gravitas, experience (would-be senior Koang Doluony won’t be back), productivity, or the grit of playing through injury-related adversity as Odum has displayed in his first two seasons to challenge him as the team leader.
Odum has been the on-floor leader as the starting point guard since early in his freshman season, so one might ask how is this any different from the last two seasons? While he’s led on-the-court, Odum’s ability to lead off of it — a role he wants to have — has proven more difficult.
Odum didn’t always have a bully pulpit with the older players on the roster, a contributing factor in the disappointing season. With those players gone, Odum can and should be trusted to demand accountability from his teammates.
Accountability … it is so vital when it is demanded from a teammate or teammates in addition to the coaches. Odum has to demand it. He can’t worry about irking his teammates if the occasion calls for it.
One of ISU characteristics in the eight years I’ve covered the men’s basketball team is the dearth of players who could do that. While the Sycamores have almost universally had good guys in that time period, very few of them had the gumption to challenge a teammate to get better or get in their face if he was slacking or holding the team back.
Odum has a unique opportunity to have a two-year window to amend that. He doesn’t need to go around raving like a lunatic, but his teammates should know they have to answer to him as well as the coaches if they aren’t doing their jobs.
Juniors Steve McWhorter, R.J. Mahurin and Lucas Eitel also need to be more vocal and join Odum to change the culture of teammate-to-teammate accountability. To wit, that trio all has segments of their games that they need to improve. Via their work ethic, they can not only improve their own games, but set the example for their teammates as to how things are done.
Past that, the various basketball-related pieces the other 2013 Sycamores have in tow — Manny Arop and Khristian Smith’s potential scoring prowess, Rhett Smith’s versatility, Devonte Brown’s quickness, improvement from Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell, etc. — will only be maximized if they demonstrate complete buy-in. A lot of that buy-in has to come from Odum.
Past is prologue. The 2012-13 roster will be almost entirely comprised of players whose college basketball experiences have been formed from the delight of 2011 and the disappointment of 2012. They have two years left to turn the bad experience into a positive one.
It won’t be easy — the MVC is going to be good in 2013 and there’s no smoothly-paved road back to league contention.
But Odum is the wellspring if the Sycamores are to get there. Presuming he can return to health, Odum has the fortitude to lead the Sycamores to a happier place than where they are now.
He is the man. We’ll see where he can take this team as an upperclassman.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
TERRE HAUTE —
Soooo … who wants to talk about the 2012 Indiana State men’s basketball season?
Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect
Reed took his talents to Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference in 2011 and hasn’t looked back in the baseball sense. After a standout career at Terre Haute South — he was Indiana’s Player of the Year in 2011 — area fans had an idea of the wind Kentucky was sowing when it coaxed Reed to Lexington, Ky.
METRO ROUNDUP: Odum shines in Portsmouth Invitational
Former Indiana State guard Jake Odum had a productive first night at the Portsmouth Invitational late Thursday.
The Terre Haute native scored 16 points, had six assists and three steals for the Portsmouth Partnership team in its 88-81 victory over Cherry Bekaert.
ISU falls to Canisius in first of three-game road series
The Indiana State baseball team fell behind early and never could get the lead as host Canisius posted a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series Friday at Demske Sports Complex.
The Sycamores (24-11) and Griffins (21-13) will meet again at 2 p.m. today, but the venue will switch to Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, N.Y. The same two teams also will play Sunday back at Demske Sports Complex in a noon start.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sweeps doubleheader over Rose-Hulman
Over the years, defeating its crosstown rival has not usually been easy for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods or Rose-Hulman when they’ve met in college softball.
But on Wednesday afternoon at The Woods, the home team made its doubleheader sweep look easy to first-year coach Mark Feller with five-inning decisions of 10-0 and 11-1.
Terre Haute North grad O'Leary to transfer from Loyola
Matt O’Leary is one of three men's basketball players at Loyola recently granted a release from his scholarship from the Missouri Valley Conference school.
The former Terre Haute North standout told the Tribune-Star he doesn’t yet know his next move.
Rose-Hulman, Woods to face off on softball diamond
The Rose-Hulman softball team will visit a familiar foe today when the Engineers take on crosstown rival Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in a nonleague doubleheader.
ISU baseball holds off Eastern Illinois for 24th win
Indiana State freshman left-hander Ryan Keaffaber won his first game as a Sycamore and senior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went 3 for 3 as ISU defeated host Eastern Illinois 6-4 in college baseball Tuesday.
Top returners lead Cream over Crimson in Hoosiers' spring game
The Cream team at Saturday’s Cream and Crimson intrasquad game had Indiana’s top returning rusher and receiver and the Hoosiers’ top-rated passer from last season.
No surprise, then, that Tevin Coleman, Shane Wynn and Tre Roberson guided the Cream to a resounding 24-14 win over the Crimson.
Rose-Hulman baseball gets wild doubleheader sweep
Host Rose-Hulman came back from an early six-run deficit in the first game Saturday and went on to a 13-12, 7-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball sweep over Mount St. Joseph.
The wild opener featured a Rose-Hulman comeback from an 8-2 deficit and included 18 hits and two school records for the Engineers.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball earns doubleheader sweep at Missouri State
Yvette Alvarez’s one-hit shutout capped a dominant day of pitching Saturday as Indiana State swept a Missouri Valley Conference softball doubleheader at Missouri State by scores of 6-1 and 4-0.
“We pitched well,” coach Shane Bouman said. “Both Taylor Lockwood in the first game and Yvette Alvarez in the second game threw great. When you pitch good and you play good defense and get some key hits, good things are going to happen.
ISU football set for first spring scrimmage
Thanks to a limited number of available offensive linemen — a group that will at least double in numbers in the fall with the addition of recruits and currently injured players — the Sycamores won’t have a full-scale scrimmage, but will still intersperse scrimmage plays (with officials) among other practice drills.
“We’re thin,” coach Mike Sanford admitted after practice Thursday. “The scrimmage will be part of practice — probably 30 or 40 plays altogether. We only have five to seven healthy offensive linemen, so we can’t go [in a scrimmage format] for long stretches of time.”
METRO ROUNDUP: Waltman's funeral Saturday at Indianapolis
Royce Waltman’s visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Methodist Church at 100 E. 86th Street, Indianapolis.
ISU baseball falls to Vanderbilt 6-2
The seventh-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores took control early to defeat the Indiana State Sycamores 6-2
ISU baseball sweeps doubleheader against Wichita State
Indiana State baseball coach Mitch Hannahs finally got what he’s been looking for from the Sycamores’ Friday and Saturday starters ... and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Wichita State is in town for a crucial series. With ISU 2-4 in the league, it was vital for the Sycamores to validate their better-than-expected form in nonconference play with MVC success in Saturday’s doubleheader at Bob Warn Field.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman's nine-game winnings streak snapped
Rose-Hulman had its nine-game winning streak snapped with two tightly contested losses at defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Manchester on Saturday.
Sycamores get commitment from junior-college point guard
Following Indiana State’s loss to Marquette in the WNIT, coach Teri Moren touched on the future of the program after the loss of Sycamore senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir.
Prusator gives ISU a shooter for 2015
Grant Prusator, a native of Rochelle, Ill., has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Indiana State starting in the 2014-15 season. He will have three years of eligibility with the Sycamores as he played just one year for Highland Community College.
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.
Indiana State secondary could be mending into a strength
During Indiana State’s injury-ravaged 2013 season, there wasn’t a unit on either side of the ball that was spared from the carnage.
But if one had to be singled out as hardest hit in the injury department, it would be difficult to out-do the Sycamores’ secondary.
Every player that started in ISU’s season opener at Indiana not only missed at least one game last season, but the entire starting unit was out of action by the end of September.
Reed named Midseason National Player of the Year
Half of the college baseball season is done and one prominent college baseball publication thinks Terre Haute’s A.J. Reed is best player in the land.
Reed, a junior at Kentucky, was named the Midseason National Player of the Year by Perfect Game USA, a website devoted to college baseball.
Laramie to transfer from ISU women's basketball program
Indiana State forward Marina Laramie averaged 9.9 points and started all 32 games as a sophomore for the Sycamores.
But the 6-foot-2 women’s basketball player will continue her career elsewhere.
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.
Chicago guard commits to ISU women's basketball
The Indiana State women’s basketball team picked up a verbal commitment from Chicago guard Kiera Brooks on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-7 junior for North Lawndale College Prep visited ISU’s campus for the first time, met the team and chose her college home. Brooks averaged 18.7 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for coach Corey Morgan’s 15-11 squad.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball tops IU 7-5
The Indiana State softball team remained a perfect 13-0 when scoring in the first inning as it defeated Indiana (9-24-1) 7-5 Tuesday for its second consecutive victory over a Big Ten opponent.
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.
ISU baseball shows mental toughness in win over Illinois State
When the pressure’s on, there’s nothing a coach likes more than to see his team double down on their approach and grit out a positive result.
Going the distance: Redbirds ace Savas allows just five hits while shutting down Sycamores
Indiana State’s pitchers weren’t their best in Friday’s series opener against Illinois State, but it seemed the Sycamores might get away with it. Through seven innings, ISU had issued six walks, gave up six hits and hit a batter, but still trailed by just a run. But ISU’s luck with its generosity would give out in the eighth, and even if it hadn’t, Illinois State standout starter Dan Savas had the Sycamores’ bats in a deep freeze anyway. The Redbirds defeated the Sycamores 5-2 at Bob Warn Field.
Woods softball team wins 4th straight
The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods softball team swept Grace College with a pair of wins in its home opener Wednesday.
Devoted brothers: Mahurins relish chance to team up and win NAIA title
It wasn’t a great year for NCAA basketball in the Hoosier state outside of Indiana State’s 23-victory season.
But a team in NAIA Division II with eight Indiana natives — and coached by former Valparaiso point guard Greg Tonagel, an Indiana All-Star for his hometown of LaPorte — brought home a national basketball championship.
Tonagel, the scrappy point guard who played alongside Bryce Drew for that magical Valpo team, created more March hoops memories with the help of Rockville brothers R.J. and Lane Mahurin.
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- Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect