TERRE HAUTE —
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
It’s 20 games into Indiana State’s men’s basketball season and I still expect the Sycamores’ offense operate like a well-oiled machine from the opening tip.
Then 30 minutes into a game, invariably during a stretch where ISU’s offense is bogged down, I’m left scratching my head as to how this team has played its way into Missouri Valley Conference contention and the NCAA Tournament at-large conversation. Saturday’s 59-58 victory over Northern Iowa at Hulman Center on Saturday was no exception.
With ISU down five with 11 minutes to go against UNI and frustrated with what I was seeing from ISU’s offense, I simply tweeted, “yuck.”
But I should know better. Twenty games have proven that you don’t judge the Sycamores’ book by its cover. Or its first 30 minutes chapters.
Skip ahead to the last 10 minutes of ISU’s games. That’s where the story of the Sycamores’ season is written … one which has ISU at 6-3 and in third place at the MVC’s mid-point.
In its nine MVC games so far, ISU has outscored its opponent in the final 10 minutes of four of them and has been even in the final 10 minutes of two other MVC games.
That’s not overwhelming evidence of ISU’s late-game prowess, but a deeper look into the numbers reveals a different story. In the last 10 minutes of its MVC games — 25 percent of the game — ISU has only once failed to amass 25 percent or more of its points in that span once.
Sometimes, the late-game scoring percentages are drastic. ISU scored 38 percent of its points in the final 10 minutes of its Jan. 19 win over Evansville. It was 35 percent in Saturday’s victory over UNI. The high-water mark was 42 percent in its Jan. 9 loss at Southern Illinois.
Some of that is down to late-game free throws … even if ISU hasn’t always excelled in that department. Saturday’s 10 of 11 performance at the line being an exception.
But late-game free throws don’t explain ISU’s improved second-half shooting in seven of its nine MVC games. The difference was stark against UNI. ISU shot 28 percentage points better in the second half Saturday than it did in the first half.
The Sycamores’ timing is uncanny as the last 10 minutes are obviously the best time to turn it on. The Sycamores have either shot or defended their way into contention in the final minute of nearly every one of its games. It’s what got ISU over the top in Hawaii as it hung in there and outfoxed Ole Miss and Miami for key nonconference victories.
Only once in MVC play — its 79-66 loss at Creighton on Jan. 5 — has the game not been in ISU’s reach with two minutes to go.
Is ISU’s late-game bravura by design? Not necessarily. It’s not as if ISU is trying to pull off some elaborate rope-a-dope and lull opponents into a false sense of security.
ISU tries to establish offensive flow from tipoff. ISU almost always starts games with the idea of getting post feeds to attack the basket. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes ISU falls a bit too in love with long-range jump shots it hasn’t consistently converted this season.
But one thing ISU is great at is biding its time. For most of the season, ISU has been patient enough to work through rough patches, unlock the opposing defense, and let the game come to them offensively. Combined with their often stingy defense, its been a recipe for success.
As ever, ISU’s fulcrum is point guard Jake Odum. The junior’s default mission is to get his teammates involved and in a rhythm first. If that happens, then Odum doesn’t have to worry about attacking the basket himself. It explains why he sometimes has only a few points at halftime of games.
But if the situation calls for it, Odum goes into attack mode, and that’s what happened Saturday. Down six late in the first half, Odum got ISU pointed in the right direction by attacking the paint. He scored six points in a row for ISU to pull the Sycamores within a point of the Panthers.
He did it again in the second half. Down seven, Odum went to the hole and converted a traditional three-point play to get ISU untracked.
Once unlocked, UNI’s defense had little to offer against ISU’s attack mode. In the final 10 minutes, ISU scored all but six of its 27 points in the paint or at the free throw line.
ISU’s late-game revivals may not be by design, but it does fall into ISU’s cherished “grind” mentality. So whether by design or not, it’s what works for the Sycamores. It’s how they roll.
“We grind on them. The games we’ve won we’ve outscored teams in the paint. As the game progresses, and they start wearing down, we grind them on defense and offense. It takes a toll on the other team,” Odum said.
So don’t judge the Sycamores by the first 30 minutes. If 20 games and a 13-7 record are any indication, this team saves its best for last.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
TERRE HAUTE —
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
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.
Sheehey's career-high 30 helps Hoosiers over No. 20 Iowa
Will Sheehey scored 19 of his career-high 30 points in the first half and Stanford Robinson added a career-best 17 to lead Indiana over No. 20 Iowa 93-86 on Thursday night in a game that was postponed last week.
A.J. Reed picks up multiple NCAA baseball honors
Kentucky junior pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed has been named National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a National Player of the Week by NCAA.com, according to separate announcements.
A member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, the Terre Haute native was named National Hitter of the Week by the NCBWA, with VMI right-hander Reed Garrett earning NCBWA Pitcher of the Week.
Redbirds dominate Sycamores 77-59
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is running out of answers for its recent woes ... and it’s running out of time to fix them. The slumping Sycamores added defensive problems to their offensive slump on Wednesday at Illinois State. The Redbirds made the Sycamores pay dearly for their poor all-around effort out of the gate as the Sycamores fell 77-59.
Rose coach expects wide-open race for HCAC title
Both Rose-Hulman basketball programs hope their teams will still be talked about in the Wabash Valley media after this weekend when they compete in their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournaments.
No. 16 Michigan rallies past Purdue
Glenn Robinson III got a late bank shot to roll in as time expired Wednesday night, giving No. 16 Michigan a 77-76 overtime victory at Purdue.
- More College Headlines
- ISU headed to MVC title game