The canary was Evansville and the coal mine was Hulman Center on Wednesday.
When a team as zone defense-aversive as Evansville — it was estimated after ISU’s 59-54 victory that the Purple Aces have employed a zone perhaps three times all season until Wednesday — uses it to keep the Sycamores’ offense from flowing, it’s a sure sign that ISU can expect to see zones from every opponent through to the end of the season.
ISU’s poor 3-point shooting is reason teams in the Missouri Valley Conference are salivating to throw their 2-3s against the Sycamores. ISU is ninth in MVC-only 3-point shooting at 31.3 percent. It’s a long fall from late December, when ISU was one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country.
Opponents are not only daring ISU to shoot over their zones, but it’s having the double-effect of freezing movement from the Sycamores to bust the zone. ISU’s offense was flowing along nicely in a 16-5 start against the Purple Aces, but once the zone was employed, the Sycamores ground to a halt.
Because ISU is a dyed-in-the-wool man-to-man defensive team, the Sycamores don’t practice against zone defenses very often. That changed on Thursday. ISU spent much of practice working on how to break zones.
ISU point guard Jake Odum stressed that it takes “reps” to get used to attacking the zone. There’s other ways and means the Sycamores need to improve at as well.
“I think we have to loosen up a little bit. We play too tentative. We need to get the ball in the middle and take chances a little bit more. We’re a little bit complacent trying to make the right decision instead of making a quick one,” Odum said.
After the Sycamores went to zone school on Thursday, ideas on how to best deal with it were in abundance.
“You want to attack the gap on the second or third reversal. Or at least look off in the gaps and look to a guy to go into the gaps,” ISU guard Devonte Brown said.
“We’ve seen extended 2-3 and packed-in 2-3 zones. When they’re packed in, you have to swing the ball a couple of times and find the open gap. When they’re extended, you have to attack it early,” Odum said.
Lansing added a few more wrinkles.
“You have to move the defense with your eyes and with pass-fakes. You have to manipulate the defense. You have to make two guys guard you, and the biggest thing, is you can’t let it paralyze you. You can’t just catch it and hold it. That’s a zone’s friend. And you can’t just settle for 3’s,” he said.
ISU has been guilty of both of the latter two sins. The limbo ISU’s shooters have been in is the notion that they make just enough 3-point shots to believe their MVC shooting slump will come to an end and the Sycamores will revert to pre-conference form. But the shooting percentages say otherwise.
“You just have to keep working on it. You have to get up enough shots on your own and our guys do that,” Lansing said. “I want our guys to be loose and free on the offensive end and take shots when they’re open. We have good shooters who can make shots.”
Today’s opponent is Missouri State and the Bears (17-10, 7-8) aren’t known for being a zone team either. But ISU (21-6, 12-3) expects to see zone at JQH Arena today.
They also expect to see a Bears team steeled by adversity. Missouri State has been plagued by injuries all season long and head coach Paul Lusk has done a nice job keeping the Bears in contention for a top-half league spot.
Hard-working swingman Keith Pickens recently returned to action. As did freshman center Tyler McCullough. Forward Jarmar Gulley (15.1) provides the scoring punch.
“They’re like their head coach. They’re tough, hard to play against and they’re smart basketball players. Paul’s done an unbelievable job dealing with what they’re dealing with,” Lansing said.
ISU’s fortunes at Missouri State are famously bad. The Sycamores are 5-25 in Springfield, though two of the wins have come since JQH Arena opened during the 2008-09 season.
If ISU wants to keep alive faint hopes of a NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the scenario is simple. It must win all of its remaining games and make it to the MVC Tournament championship game.
In that event, ISU would be 27-7 overall, but even if that were to occur, the Sycamores are considered a significant long shot to get a bid due to a lack of quality wins and a nonconference schedule that turned out to be more sour than anticipated.
ISU at Missouri State
Tipoff — 1 p.m. today at JQH Arena, Springfield, Mo.
Broadcasts — TV: ESPNU. Radio: WIBQ-FM 98.5. Twitter: @TribStarTodd.
Last time out — ISU defeated Evansville 59-54 on Wednesday. Missouri State lost 67-63 at Illinois State on Tuesday.
Series — MSU leads 38-23. ISU won 70-55 at Hulman Center on Jan. 15. MSU is 25-5 all-time against ISU in Springfield.
Indiana State Sycamores (21-6, 12-3) — G Jake Odum (6-4, Sr., 13 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Sr., 10 ppg), G-F Manny Arop (6-6, Sr., 11.1), F Justin Gant (6-8, Jr., 10.1, 4 rpg) and C Jake Kitchell (6-10, Jr., 3.2) are possible starters. G-F Khristian Smith (6-6, So.., 11.1), G Devonte Brown (6-3, So., 5.1), F Demetrius Moore (6-7, Jr., 3.9), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, Sr., 2.4), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, So., 1.9) and F T.J. Bell (6-8, Fr., 0.8) are key reserves.
Coach — Greg Lansing (77-50 at ISU, 4th year).
Missouri State Bears (17-10, 7-8) — G Dorrian Williams (6-3, So., 5.5), G Austin Ruder (6-3, Fr., 8.7), G-F Ron Mvouika (6-6, Jr., 7.1), F Jarmar Gulley (6-5, Sr., 15.1, 6.2 rpg) and C Christian Kirk (6-8, Jr., 6.1) are the possible starters. F Gavin Thurman (6-7, So., 6 ppg), G-F Keith Pickens (6-4, Sr., 6.2), F Emmanuel Addo (6-8, Sr., 4.6), G Nate Scheer (6-5, Sr., 3.5), C Tyler McCullough (6-11, Fr., 3 ppg) and G Devon Thomas (6-0, Fr., 3 ppg) are key reserves.
Coach — Paul Lusk (44-48, 3rd season at MSU, 46-71, 4th overall).
Injuries and absences — For ISU, C Mike Samuels (foot) is out. G Jake Odum (knees) and G Dawon Cummings (knee) are probable. For Missouri State, G Marcus Marshall (knee) is out.
Next games — ISU plays at Illinois State and Missouri State plays host to Loyola on Wednesday.
— Todd Golden
Zone defense becoming obstacle Sycamores must contend with
The canary was Evansville and the coal mine was Hulman Center on Wednesday.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball splits pair in Florida
Pitching dominated Tuesday’s opening day of play in the Rebel Spring Games for the Indiana State softball team, which defeated Bucknell 2-0 before falling 2-0 to Creighton.
“The girls did a great job in the first game getting a couple runs,” ISU coach Shane Bouman said. “We leaned on [sophomore] Yvette Alvarez who pitched really well. We probably got as much as we could out of her and probably should have changed earlier so put that on me. We have a couple little things we can clean up and get a little better and we will be ready to go tomorrow.”
Oh snap: Reed's 18-game hitting streak falls in No. 20 UK's loss at No. 16 IU
No. 16 Indiana mounted two-run rallies in the first and fourth innings and the Hoosiers ended the hitting streak of Terre Haute native A.J. Reed at 18 games to post a 7-2 win over No. 20 Kentucky on Tuesday.
Despite going hitless, Reed remains the NCAA leader in home runs (8) and RBI (28) for a potent Wildcats’ offense.
Kentucky (13-4) dropped its first game with the Hoosiers in the last four meetings, with the meeting marking the first time in modern UK history (2003-present) that the two teams faced off as top-20 foes.
Munn named MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Indiana State leads the Missouri Valley with six of the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards after Anna Munn earned the recognition Tuesday for the 2013-14 season.
Munn joins Kourtney Mennen (2003), Melanie Boeglin (2006), Laura Rudolphi (2007) and Kelsey Luna (2009 and 2010) as winners of the award, which began in 2002.
ISU win streak at 12
Ryan Keaffaber recorded his sixth save in seven opportunities Monday as Indiana State won its 12th straight college baseball game, holding off a rally by visiting Western Illinois for a 7-4 victory on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.
Another Rose freshman making big splash
The Rose-Hulman men’s swimming team received a much-needed boost last season when a talented freshman from Ohio entered to set school records, rack up conference titles and qualify for the NCAA Division III championships. So when the Rose women’s swimming team needed a boost this season, what did it do? Yep, the Engineers found another talented freshman from Ohio to do pretty much the same things.
Metro sports: Indiana State's Abdul-Qaadir honored by MVC again
Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir of Indiana State has been named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week for women’s basketball, the league announced Monday.
Guts, sweat, tears: Sycamores fall to perfect Shockers
No one on Indiana State’s men’s basketball needed to say a word about the Sycamores’ 83-69 loss to Wichita State in Sunday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game.
Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best
It’s hard to run with Secretariat. Secretariat, for the uninitiated, won horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973 and famously stormed to victory in the Belmont Stakes by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest thoroughbred of all time, and his Belmont performance is one of sports’ all-time greatest moments. In Missouri Valley Conference terms, Wichita State is Secretariat.
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.
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