TERRE HAUTE —
Tonight may be Think Pink night, but Indiana State’s women’s basketball team needs to think blue — as in blue-collar effort — to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Sycamores will don pink Nike sneakers and a limited number of fans will receive pink t-shirts or pink rally towels as part of the Susan G. Komen “Pink Out.”
“They’re two big games, especially at home. Our Think Pink game is always a fun game. We’ll have a good crowd and we need to have a good game because we’ll have a lot of support. It’s fun to play for a good cause,” ISU sophomore Kasey Johnson said.
Johnson can be a big part of the Sycamores’ stingy defense and she’s been a part of the starting lineup since Anna Munn has been out with a knee injury the past two games.
“I try to set a spark for our team, I try to set the tone by diving for a loose ball. That’s something we need is to get a good kick start in the beginning,” Johnson said. “I’ve just tried to do what I’ve been doing all season and work hard for my team and do my job, do whatever’s needed.”
Munn, ISU’s second-leading scorer and senior captain, has been working to strengthen her injured knee in individual workouts that have only built up to light shooting and jogging so far.
Moren said it doesn’t make sense to rush her back.
“She’d like to think that Sunday is her timetable, but she’s not at the point yet where she’s running,” Moren said. “No doubt, she won’t be ready for [tonight] and outside to no chance she’s going to be ready for Sunday. We all realize we have the whole month of February left and there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”
It’s a great opportunity for Johnson and Jasmine Grier, who also has started the past two games, to get an extended run.
Grier hit her first two shots last week at Illinois State but became passive in the second half.
“It’s about confidence. They want me to pull the trigger when I’m open,” said Grier, who has been a factor at the top of ISU’s aggressive defense. “They want me to utilize my length. I’m just trying to get better in this new defensive system. I’m helping as best as I can.”
Grier said the Sycamores are focused on bouncing back from the recent losses.
“I think we’ve been preparing pretty hard. Practice has been tough these last couple days, but I think our defense is going to be key this weekend,” Grier said. “Southern Illinois has some very athletic girls with a lot of versatility so just stopping them and making things tough on them will get us through.”
Getting the ball to ISU’s efficient post players is another way for the Sycamores to regain some momentum. Marina Laramie is shooting over 50 percent during MVC play but she’s totaled just 14 shots and 14 points in the past three games. Racheal Mahan got just five attempts in the loss at Illinois State.
Foul trouble is partly to blame — especially in Laramie’s case — but the Sycamore guards have to do a better job of being creative and trusting their posts to receive the pass.
Shot selection down the stretch was a big factor in the Illinois State loss.
“I think all of us are hoping we can get back on track after the bad loss at Loyola and the tough loss at Illinois State,” Moren said. “Just down the stretch too many turnovers or the wrong people taking the shots. The idea when you have a lead like that from a coaching perspective is that you take high-percentage shots. In that span, I we might have had one post touch.”
Getting the ball inside and working it in and out is when the Sycamores are at their best offensively.
“We’re doing a poor job. As a staff, we try to emphasize that, whether it’s film or practice. We have to keep teaching and talking especially to the guards. Our posts need to get more touches, and we’re guilty of over-dribbling, not keeping our eyes up, finding them when they’re open. We’ve done a poor job of that. We’re working daily in trying to show our kids why we want to get the post players the ball,” Moren said.
The Sycamores also play host to Evansville on Sunday at 3 p.m. Two wins would make ISU 8-1 at home during Missouri Valley play.