News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

January 28, 2010

ISU men try to avoid ‘tradition’ against SIU

Sycamores host Salukis tonight in Hulman Center

TERRE HAUTE — If the Masters is a tradition like no other, the Indiana State’s men’s basketball program has a “tradition” it would rather smother.

For the last five seasons — and in every season save one since 2001 — ISU has had a five-game losing streak in Missouri Valley Conference play. ISU had two seasons where it had two different five-game-or longer MVC losing streaks.

The only season since 2001 where ISU didn’t have a five-game conference losing streak was 2004-05 … when it had four different three-game losing skids.

ISU is on the precipice of keeping that five-game slide alive for yet another season if it cannot defeat Southern Illinois in Hulman Center tonight. The Sycamores are currently mired in a four-game skid after losses to Wichita State, Northern Iowa, Missouri State and Northern Iowa again on Sunday.

It’s true that the combined MVC record of the teams ISU has lost to is 28-10. And it’s also true that ISU (11-9, 3-6) has lost them all without the services of leading scorer Dwayne Lathan, who was injured on Jan. 6 at Bradley.

“I’m apt to give credit to some of the teams we were playing. Northern [Iowa] is a very good team. If you make a mistake, they make you pay. We made five simple mistakes against them on Sunday. Five plays, ten points and there’s the game,” ISU coach Kevin McKenna said.

But it’s also true that a four-game losing streak can have a damaging effect on any team, no matter the caliber of competition they’ve faced or what the state of the team’s roster is. Confidence, after all, doesn’t have a strength of schedule component.

“I think [losing] has [bothered the team] a little bit. If it didn’t, I think we’d have even more problems. It bothers us, no doubt about it, but we can’t dwell on it,” McKenna said. “We’re focused on our attitude, making plays for our teammates, and keeping the game as simple as we can. We want to play hard and more reckless on the defensive end and with more focus and control on the offensive end.”

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