News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

February 1, 2014

Panthers offer ISU new look

Northern Iowa plays more like hare than turtle these days

ELLETTSVILLE — In recent years, when Indiana State’s men’s basketball team faced Northern Iowa, you could expect two things: offense played at a turtle’s pace and an extremely tough defensive challenge.

Not so anymore.

The Panthers are currently the highest-flying team in the MVC in scoring — averaging 77.3 points per game in MVC games, a full seven points per game better than second-place Wichita State.

Naturally, with the Panthers playing at a higher pace, UNI’s defensive numbers aren’t as stellar. UNI gives up 70.2 points per game inside the conference.

It all adds up to a much different experience than usual at ISU visits UNI’s McLeod Center for an 8 p.m. tipoff today.

“They’re playing a little faster and their quickness and athleticism in their backcourt allows them to,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

 “Anytime you can get easy baskets before the defense is set is beneficial. We do that and they try to do that. Getting guys back and getting set defensively is important.”

UNI boasts scoring balance. Forward Seth Tuttle (14.6, 7.9 rpg) is one of the MVC’s best big men. Guard Deon Mitchell (13 ppg) is athletic and can get to the basket. Wes Washpun is a 46.5 percent 3-point shooter.

UNI (11-10, 4-3) will have adversity to deal with. Starting guard Nate Buss — the Panthers’ third-leading scorer at 10.8 points per game — tore the meniscus in his left knee during UNI’s 95-81 win over Evansville on Wednesday. Buss had surgery on Thursday.

ISU’s bafflement as to the nature of its 79-60 loss at Southern Illinois on Wednesday had not yet abated as of Friday. The lack of effort and sense of urgency was something Lansing couldn’t understand.

“If you’d have told me we’d come out and play like that and not compete like this team has competed? I’d have told you you were crazy. I still have a tough time explaining it. The guys are down on themselves about it. The only thing we can do is get back to work. There’s no excuse to let someone out-work you,” Lansing said.

Rebounding — SIU had a 42-31 edge on Wednesday, including a king’s ransom in offensive rebounds (eight in the first half) that set the tone for the Salukis — was something Lansing blamed himself for.

“That’s my fault. We haven’t worked on it at practice at all. We haven’t done any rebounding drills aside from doing it within or stuff. I haven’t wanted to do it because I haven’t wanted to get someone hurt when we banged on one another,” Lansing said.

ISU forward Manny Arop pointed the finger at himself and his teammates in the wake of the loss on Wednesday.

“We didn’t play a whole possession where we finished it off with a rebound. It’s something the coaches have been stressing in practice. They’ve told us to make our rebounding area bigger. They’ve been on us about it all year,” Arop said.

The loss at SIU put the Sycamores (16-5, 7-2) in a bad spot if they are to isolate the SIU defeat as an anomaly in an otherwise fine season. UNI is undefeated at McLeod Center, and if ISU can’t win there, undefeated Wichita State is next for the Sycamores as the Shockers visit Hulman Center next Wednesday.

“I think if you had told me going into the week that we could get a split [at SIU, at UNI], I might have taken it. Now we have to win Saturday just to get that chance,” Lansing said.

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