OMAHA, NEB. —
Close but no cigar.
That was how Indiana State’s 79-66 loss to No. 16 Creighton felt on Saturday at the CenturyLink Center.
The game was closer than that most of the way. There were times when the Sycamores had the Bluejays — and their 17,694 fans — concerned that the style of play ISU has used to become one of the Missouri Valley Conference’s surprise teams would produce yet another impressive victory.
It wasn’t to be. Creighton was too good and the Bluejays forced their will on the game in the final 10 minutes and pulled away.
That bugged the Sycamores to no end. Though ISU is just now entering the MVC’s spotlight, the Sycamores themselves have felt comfortable in it since the Hawaii trip.
Another moral victory? The Sycamores don’t want any part of it.
“We’ve had enough moral victories this year where we haven’t pulled it off. We’re getting tired of that. We don’t want that anymore. We know we’re a good team that can play with the elite teams in the country. To play the way we did in the last 10 minutes? It's kind of upsetting,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.
“I’m happy with the effort we’re giving, but their heads are hanging. We had an opportunity to beat one of the best teams in the country in a wonderful environment. We just didn’t get it done,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
It’s a sign of progress that the Sycamores aren’t willing to see the silver lining in a hard-fought loss.
Declaring their disdain for no moral victories is kind of a moral victory in itself, if a moral victory can be defined as progress over results. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that 7/12ths of ISU’s available roster is just 14 games into their ISU careers. Little was expected of this team, much less the idea that a win at Creighton was not only feasible, but expected by the Sycamores.
It’s left to people like me to see what ISU doesn’t want — and shouldn’t want — to acknowledge.
ISU played the projected top three teams in the conference in the span of six days, with two of the games on the road. This came on the heels of a hellish multi-day trip home from Hawaii that could have scuttled ISU’s progress before it began.
To come out of what Lansing called “the gauntlet” with a 2-1 record is a success, whether ISU wants to view it that way or not.
Going into it, a 2-1 record was the best-case scenario in my mind for the “gauntlet”. To come out of it with a 3-0 mark would’ve been outstanding, but it also would’ve been gravy. ISU is well-positioned to stay among the MVC’s contenders for the remainder of the season if it keeps playing at a high level.
What’s impressed me about ISU’s start is that it has so much room to grow. Several of ISU’s young players have shown flashes of what they can do — some have even struggled — but the team has been playing well anyway. If every Sycamore continues to move in the right direction and come closer to fulfilling their potential, look out MVC.
“Indiana State’s good, in case anyone’s wondering. They’re a disciplined basketball team. I understand now why they came close to winning three games in Hawaii and started 2-0 [in the MVC]. They did a good job of controlling the tempo, especially in the first half,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said after the game.
“They’re going to win a lot of games and be in games because they control tempo well. They fight you defensively. They hit some shots too,” McDermott continued.
It’s good that ISU isn’t satisfied with my big picture standard. In fact, it’s great.
The Sycamores have developed an appetite for success. Having a snack for 30 minutes against the talented Bluejays isn’t good enough to sate them anymore.
“It’s definitely frustrating. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game, but we let it slip away. It’s a good thing [to be competitive against elite teams], but it kind of sucks to keep talking about moral victories,” ISU center Justin Gant said.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please follow him on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
OMAHA, NEB. —
Close but no cigar.
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.
- ISU women have options in the post
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.
Rose-Hulman’s Smyser is still embracing clutch goal
When sophomore Mike Smyser guided the ball into the net during the opening minutes of the Rose-Hulman men’s soccer match against undefeated, NCAA Division III No. 1-ranked Ohio Wesleyan on Sunday in Delaware, Ohio, he had no idea it would be the only goal of a hard-fought match.
- More College Headlines
- Young gun: Freshman Belyea leads Engineers to second straight victory over Saint Mary-of-the Woods