When Cody Zeller was asked when he decided to leave Indiana University early to enter the NBA, he sidestepped the question.
“After a while, you just kind of know,” Zeller said Wednesday as he formally announced he was leaving IU’s basketball program. “I knew barring injury or anything, this might be my last year; I was enjoying every last minute of it.”
Zeller turned down the opportunity to go to the NBA last season, but the chance to achieve his lifetime goal was too much to deny a second time — even if he leaves the Hoosiers without a national title.
“That’s always the goal,” Zeller said, acknowledging that the chance at a national championship was a key factor in his decision to return to IU last season. “We had a great team this year, with a lot of depth, a lot of great players. Unfortunately we couldn’t make that happen, but we definitely had a successful year with how many wins we had, the Big Ten championship.”
It didn’t take long for Zeller to impact the Hoosiers. Zeller’s signing helped draw other top prospects to Indiana, notably AAU teammate Yogi Ferrell, even if the ever-humble Zeller deflected praise for his part in that aspect of IU’s resurgence.
“I wasn’t taking credit for it [when I signed] and I’m not taking credit for it now,” Zeller said, instead pointing out the recruiting acumen of IU coach Tom Crean and the rest of IU’s coaching staff.
Crean wouldn’t let his star recruit get out of it that easy.
“I think what you have is that people were looking forward to getting a chance to play with Cody and win with Cody,” Crean said.
With good reason. There’s no denying that Zeller’s presence in the post helped IU improve from also-rans to Big Ten champions.
IU was 12-20 the season before Zeller came to college. The Hoosiers improved to 27-9 his freshman season and went 29-7 this season, winning the school’s first outright regular-season Big Ten title since 1993. IU advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament both seasons, losing to eventual national champion Kentucky and Final Four participant Syracuse, respectively.
Zeller was the consensus preseason national player of the year last fall and the Hoosiers were preseason No. 1 in both polls. IU stayed at No. 1 more weeks than any other team in 2012-13.
Zeller was a second-team Associated Press All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, and he led the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding in both of his years in Bloomington.
His departure, along with the early departure of Victor Oladipo and the graduations of Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, leave the Hoosiers with just one returning starter, in soon-to-be sophomore point guard Ferrell.
That likely means sixth man Will Sheehey moves to the starting lineup, along with Remy Abell. But more importantly is that an offense designed, at least in principle, to work through Zeller’s post play must be changed. None of the three likely candidates to replace Zeller in the starting lineup — sophomores Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin and freshman Luke Fischer — have shown enough to be Zeller 2.0.
Zeller admitted the loss of key players such as Oladipo, Hulls and Watford played a role in his decision to leave.
“IU will have a great year next year, but the guys I was closest to are graduating and leaving,” he said.
But he’s not concerned that the Hoosiers’ future means a return to the bottom of the Big Ten.
“I think the biggest thing is that the culture really changed. I think Vic and Will even started it before I got here,” he said.
“That’s what it takes to be successful, you have to keep on improving. But I think that will continue; the guys that are here will pass that on to the freshmen and it will continue for a long time.”
But Zeller deserves all the credit he gets for the culture change, Crean said.
“He’s really come in here and left his mark,” Crean said. “One that will stand for a very long time.”
When Cody Zeller was asked when he decided to leave Indiana University early to enter the NBA, he sidestepped the question.
Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect
Reed took his talents to Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference in 2011 and hasn’t looked back in the baseball sense. After a standout career at Terre Haute South — he was Indiana’s Player of the Year in 2011 — area fans had an idea of the wind Kentucky was sowing when it coaxed Reed to Lexington, Ky.
METRO ROUNDUP: Odum shines in Portsmouth Invitational
Former Indiana State guard Jake Odum had a productive first night at the Portsmouth Invitational late Thursday.
The Terre Haute native scored 16 points, had six assists and three steals for the Portsmouth Partnership team in its 88-81 victory over Cherry Bekaert.
ISU falls to Canisius in first of three-game road series
The Indiana State baseball team fell behind early and never could get the lead as host Canisius posted a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series Friday at Demske Sports Complex.
The Sycamores (24-11) and Griffins (21-13) will meet again at 2 p.m. today, but the venue will switch to Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, N.Y. The same two teams also will play Sunday back at Demske Sports Complex in a noon start.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods sweeps doubleheader over Rose-Hulman
Over the years, defeating its crosstown rival has not usually been easy for Saint Mary-of-the-Woods or Rose-Hulman when they’ve met in college softball.
But on Wednesday afternoon at The Woods, the home team made its doubleheader sweep look easy to first-year coach Mark Feller with five-inning decisions of 10-0 and 11-1.
Terre Haute North grad O'Leary to transfer from Loyola
Matt O’Leary is one of three men's basketball players at Loyola recently granted a release from his scholarship from the Missouri Valley Conference school.
The former Terre Haute North standout told the Tribune-Star he doesn’t yet know his next move.
Rose-Hulman, Woods to face off on softball diamond
The Rose-Hulman softball team will visit a familiar foe today when the Engineers take on crosstown rival Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in a nonleague doubleheader.
ISU baseball holds off Eastern Illinois for 24th win
Indiana State freshman left-hander Ryan Keaffaber won his first game as a Sycamore and senior catcher Mike Fitzgerald went 3 for 3 as ISU defeated host Eastern Illinois 6-4 in college baseball Tuesday.
Top returners lead Cream over Crimson in Hoosiers' spring game
The Cream team at Saturday’s Cream and Crimson intrasquad game had Indiana’s top returning rusher and receiver and the Hoosiers’ top-rated passer from last season.
No surprise, then, that Tevin Coleman, Shane Wynn and Tre Roberson guided the Cream to a resounding 24-14 win over the Crimson.
Rose-Hulman baseball gets wild doubleheader sweep
Host Rose-Hulman came back from an early six-run deficit in the first game Saturday and went on to a 13-12, 7-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball sweep over Mount St. Joseph.
The wild opener featured a Rose-Hulman comeback from an 8-2 deficit and included 18 hits and two school records for the Engineers.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball earns doubleheader sweep at Missouri State
Yvette Alvarez’s one-hit shutout capped a dominant day of pitching Saturday as Indiana State swept a Missouri Valley Conference softball doubleheader at Missouri State by scores of 6-1 and 4-0.
“We pitched well,” coach Shane Bouman said. “Both Taylor Lockwood in the first game and Yvette Alvarez in the second game threw great. When you pitch good and you play good defense and get some key hits, good things are going to happen.
ISU football set for first spring scrimmage
Thanks to a limited number of available offensive linemen — a group that will at least double in numbers in the fall with the addition of recruits and currently injured players — the Sycamores won’t have a full-scale scrimmage, but will still intersperse scrimmage plays (with officials) among other practice drills.
“We’re thin,” coach Mike Sanford admitted after practice Thursday. “The scrimmage will be part of practice — probably 30 or 40 plays altogether. We only have five to seven healthy offensive linemen, so we can’t go [in a scrimmage format] for long stretches of time.”
METRO ROUNDUP: Waltman's funeral Saturday at Indianapolis
Royce Waltman’s visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at St. Luke’s Methodist Church at 100 E. 86th Street, Indianapolis.
ISU baseball falls to Vanderbilt 6-2
The seventh-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores took control early to defeat the Indiana State Sycamores 6-2
ISU baseball sweeps doubleheader against Wichita State
Indiana State baseball coach Mitch Hannahs finally got what he’s been looking for from the Sycamores’ Friday and Saturday starters ... and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Wichita State is in town for a crucial series. With ISU 2-4 in the league, it was vital for the Sycamores to validate their better-than-expected form in nonconference play with MVC success in Saturday’s doubleheader at Bob Warn Field.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman's nine-game winnings streak snapped
Rose-Hulman had its nine-game winning streak snapped with two tightly contested losses at defending Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Manchester on Saturday.
Sycamores get commitment from junior-college point guard
Following Indiana State’s loss to Marquette in the WNIT, coach Teri Moren touched on the future of the program after the loss of Sycamore senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir.
Prusator gives ISU a shooter for 2015
Grant Prusator, a native of Rochelle, Ill., has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Indiana State starting in the 2014-15 season. He will have three years of eligibility with the Sycamores as he played just one year for Highland Community College.
Metro sports: Locks of Love tournament today at Memorial Stadium
The Indiana State Women’s Soccer team will host its annual Locks of Love tournament today. The 4th annual event will begin at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Indiana State secondary could be mending into a strength
During Indiana State’s injury-ravaged 2013 season, there wasn’t a unit on either side of the ball that was spared from the carnage.
But if one had to be singled out as hardest hit in the injury department, it would be difficult to out-do the Sycamores’ secondary.
Every player that started in ISU’s season opener at Indiana not only missed at least one game last season, but the entire starting unit was out of action by the end of September.
Reed named Midseason National Player of the Year
Half of the college baseball season is done and one prominent college baseball publication thinks Terre Haute’s A.J. Reed is best player in the land.
Reed, a junior at Kentucky, was named the Midseason National Player of the Year by Perfect Game USA, a website devoted to college baseball.
Laramie to transfer from ISU women's basketball program
Indiana State forward Marina Laramie averaged 9.9 points and started all 32 games as a sophomore for the Sycamores.
But the 6-foot-2 women’s basketball player will continue her career elsewhere.
Metro sports: ISU blanks Austin Peay in 6-plus innings
Indiana State’s baseball team posted another mid-week victory Wednesday night as four pitchers combined to throw a three-hit shutout and lead a 3-0 victory over Austin Peay State at Bob Warn Field.
Chicago guard commits to ISU women's basketball
The Indiana State women’s basketball team picked up a verbal commitment from Chicago guard Kiera Brooks on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-7 junior for North Lawndale College Prep visited ISU’s campus for the first time, met the team and chose her college home. Brooks averaged 18.7 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for coach Corey Morgan’s 15-11 squad.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball tops IU 7-5
The Indiana State softball team remained a perfect 13-0 when scoring in the first inning as it defeated Indiana (9-24-1) 7-5 Tuesday for its second consecutive victory over a Big Ten opponent.
Dedicated to helping others
It’s not like Marissa Stout is bored out of her mind and lacking for things to do.
Metro sports: ISU’s Stone, Riemenschneider honored by MVC
Indiana State junior Megan Stone and freshman Brooke Riemenschneider each earned Missouri Valley Conference Athlete of the Week honors, according to an announcement from the league office Monday.
ISU baseball shows mental toughness in win over Illinois State
When the pressure’s on, there’s nothing a coach likes more than to see his team double down on their approach and grit out a positive result.
Going the distance: Redbirds ace Savas allows just five hits while shutting down Sycamores
Indiana State’s pitchers weren’t their best in Friday’s series opener against Illinois State, but it seemed the Sycamores might get away with it. Through seven innings, ISU had issued six walks, gave up six hits and hit a batter, but still trailed by just a run. But ISU’s luck with its generosity would give out in the eighth, and even if it hadn’t, Illinois State standout starter Dan Savas had the Sycamores’ bats in a deep freeze anyway. The Redbirds defeated the Sycamores 5-2 at Bob Warn Field.
Woods softball team wins 4th straight
The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods softball team swept Grace College with a pair of wins in its home opener Wednesday.
Devoted brothers: Mahurins relish chance to team up and win NAIA title
It wasn’t a great year for NCAA basketball in the Hoosier state outside of Indiana State’s 23-victory season.
But a team in NAIA Division II with eight Indiana natives — and coached by former Valparaiso point guard Greg Tonagel, an Indiana All-Star for his hometown of LaPorte — brought home a national basketball championship.
Tonagel, the scrappy point guard who played alongside Bryce Drew for that magical Valpo team, created more March hoops memories with the help of Rockville brothers R.J. and Lane Mahurin.
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