WICHITA, Kan. —
It’s one game at a time for Indiana State’s men’s basketball team this season. Until it’s not.
The Sycamores have stuck by that time-worn cliché and it’s paid dividends for them. A seven-game win streak and 12 wins in their last 13 games have been the reward.
But even the Sycamores know today is different. At 4 p.m. — in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 — ISU goes into the belly of the beast. A visit to No. 5 Wichita State, the highest-ranked team ISU has played since the 1979 NCAA championship game against No. 4 Michigan State.
It’s undefeated Wichita State … inside the cauldron that is Charles Koch Arena, the ear-splitting madhouse it calls home.
It is the MVC summit meeting and it is the most compelling Valley game of the season so far.
For ISU, it’s one of its biggest regular-season games in recent memory. Perhaps its most visible since the 2000 season when it won its last MVC championship. A win on the Shockers’ home floor would almost certainly thrust the Sycamores into NCAA Tournament consideration.
It’s a game many hoped would come off. Whispers about it began when both teams went two weeks without a conference loss.
After both survived scares last Saturday — Wichita State won in overtime at Missouri State and ISU slipped past Bradley in Hulman Center — the Shockers and Sycamores looked every bit the part of the MVC’s upper crust in their mid-week games. Both cruised with easy home victories against Bradley (for WSU on Tuesday) and Missouri State (for ISU on Wednesday).
ISU (14-3 overall) and WSU (18-0) have broken from the rest of the MVC pack. Both are 5-0 in conference action and enjoy a two-game cushion over the nearest MVC team.
Now the excitement is about to reach its crescendo.
The temptation might be for the Sycamores to fake it and act like it’s just another game. But it’s not and they acknowledged that.
“I’d be kidding you if I wasn’t thinking about it at times when I see their scores,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Normally laid-back ISU swingman Manny Arop could hardly restrain his enthusiasm.
“As much as I want to tell you it’s another game in conference? It’s not for us. It’s a big opportunity for any team to play Wichita, an undefeated team and No. 5 in the country. As a competitor? That’s what you dream of,” said Arop on Thursday.
“It’s a lot of fun, a lot of excitement. I couldn’t wait to get on the floor today and get into preparation. I couldn’t wait to get up extra shots, watch film, go over the scouting report. The whole process. Yeah, it’s another conference game, but it has extra meaning because they’re so good. You have to give it to them,” Arop added.
Mind you, this was a practice the day after a game for the Sycamores, normally a day to rest and decompress. But the depth of the Shockers’ talent is such that ISU couldn’t afford to back off much.
Where does one start with the Shockers? There’s Preseason MVC Player of the Year Cleanthony Early, one of the best forwards in the country. He’s averaging 16 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
There’s sophomore point guard Fred Van Vleet, who recently had four straight games without a turnover and whose conference-leading assist-to-turnover ratio is 4.5 — nearly two points better than second-place Jake Odum at 2.7. Appropriately, Van Vleet and Odum share the conference assist lead at 5.2 apiece.
“He’s a big-time player. He’s not out of control. He gets the ball to guys at the right time and he’s really efficient,” Odum said.
Then there’s dead-eye sharpshooter Ron Baker — whom the Sycamores didn’t match wits with last year due to a stress fracture that knocked him out of most of the MVC’s regular season.
He returned for the MVC Tournament and the shooting guard was a major reason the Shockers advanced to the 2013 Final Four. Baker averages 12.8 points and has made 39.5 percent of his 3-point shots. He’s also an 86.5-percent free-throw shooter.
But one player whose stats don’t tell his tale is starting guard Tekele Cotton. His 9.6 points per game seem perfunctory until you see him play defense.
Put simply, the WSU junior is the best on-ball defender in the MVC. He can take away a team’s best scorer, small or tall. He guarded Odum and Arop in the last year’s games and he’s also been the designated stopper on scorers like Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
“He’s a versatile defender and he definitely sets the tone for them,” Odum said.
The Sycamores’ advantage over the Shockers is their depth. ISU has scorers eight-deep into its rotation while the Shockers only go about six-deep in theirs. Moreover, the status of WSU guard Evan Wessel is probable. He missed Tuesday’s game against Bradley with an ankle sprain.
WSU has stopping power (it has held opponents to a MVC-low 60.7 points), but ISU’s multitude of options will test the Shockers’ defense. ISU leads the MVC in scoring at 76.7 points. It’s immovable object vs. irresistible force, MVC-style.
ISU has played in hostile environments before and responded well. Part of the current ISU roster won at No. 25 Vanderbilt in 2011-12 and nearly all of them had a hand in ISU’s 68-55 victory at Wichita State last year. ISU won at then-No. 25 Notre Dame in November when the Fighting Irish still had leading-scorer Jerian Grant calling the shots.
“I thrive off energy, whether’s it’s home or away crowd energy. I’m an emotional player and I love that stuff. I love playing in Wichita,” Arop said.
A win would continue ISU’s best MVC start since 1979 and an eight-game win streak would be its longest since it started 8-0 in 2005-06. ISU last won two in a row in Wichita in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Sycamores and Shockers face off for conference supremacy
WICHITA, Kan. —
It’s one game at a time for Indiana State’s men’s basketball team this season. Until it’s not.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge
When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.
Clock problems delay start of Indiana State semifinal game
Time stood still in Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Not by design.
Sycamores advance to Arch Madness title game
No one said advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament championship game was going to be easy.
ISU women grab share of MVC regular-season title
The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite lived up to its expectations, as the Indiana State women’s basketball team grabbed a piece of the regular-season title with an 85-72 triumph over host Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon inside McLeod Center.
Robinson leads No. 12 Michigan over Indiana
Glenn Robinson scored 20 points, including a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:10 to play, and Jordan Morgan had a double-double in his final home game to help No. 12 Michigan finish off its Big Ten championship season with an 84-80 victory over Indiana on Saturday night.
Michigan (23-7 15-3) avenged last year’s defeat in the last game of the regular season. In that game, Morgan’s tap-in rolled off the rim as time expired, giving the Hoosiers the victory and costing the Wolverines a share of the conference title.
ISU headed to MVC title game
Indiana State defeated Southern Illinois 62-59 on Saturday to advance to Arch Madness championship game.
Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Indiana State women move within one win from MVC title
Senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir had 23 points to lead Indiana State to a 73-71 win at Drake on Thursday. The point guard led four Sycamores in double figures in the win.
Anna Munn, Jasmine Grier and Chelsea Small each chipped in 11 points as ISU shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range as a team.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
Rose-Hulman seniors lead Engineers into NCAA Division III Tournament
For Rose-Hulman’s six senior men’s basketball players, this weekend will mark the beginning of their third and final appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Having left Terre Haute by bus Thursday, Rose (22-5) will open the Division III four-team regional at Hope College in Holland, Mich., today against Wheaton College (19-8) at the unique time of 5:30 p.m.
Coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers are coming off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) regular-season and tournament championships for the second consecutive year.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
Nebraska completes sweep of Indiana
Indiana’s slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid are all but done, unless the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska never trailed Wednesday night, completing a season sweep of the Hoosiers with a 70-60 win. The loss ensures a losing conference record for IU (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) while boosting the Huskers’ chances at an at-large berth.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Rose meets Wheaton in NCAA opener
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
Rose-Hulman wins third straight HCAC tournament crown
Tied with Hanover 26-26 at halftime of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game Saturday night, host Rose-Hulman knew it had a couple of things in its favor.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Engineers, Hanover to vie for HCAC title
For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball teams of Rose-Hulman and Hanover will square off for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship in Terre Haute.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
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