ST. LOUIS —
The Indiana State men were picked where in the MVC Preseason poll?
The Sycamores tied for fifth last year and have seven players back from a postseason team. Terre Haute is so excited about this team. They had to be picked in the top half of the league, right?
Wait ... they were picked seventh?
The women’s team — with a new coach, a new attitude, a lot of returning talent, and a tradition of league success — they should be a lead-pipe cinch to be in the top half of the league. Shouldn’t they?
They were picked eighth? Really? They occupy the worst MVC preseason position for the ISU women since 1997?
It would be a surprise if fans of ISU’s basketball programs agreed with league observers as to where they rate in the MVC pecking order. It wouldn’t be a surprise to assume that many ISU fans are going to be disappointed, perhaps even angry, over the perceived lack of respect.
But don’t let it get to you. Certainly, the players don’t waste too much time worrying about it. During Tuesday’s Missouri Valley Conference media day in St. Louis, the ISU men were represented by Jake Kelly and Dwayne Lathan and the women by Kelsie Cooley. None of them were overly concerned about how and where they’re perceived.
“It’s too easy to get caught up in how other people think. We have to focus on how what we do as a team, how we practice, how we approach games. If we do that, things will take care of themselves,” Cooley said.
“It’s nothing we’re not used to, but we want to prove ourselves even more this year because we lost Harry [Marshall], Rashad [Reed] and Josh [Crawford]. We have a new coach, a new system, we have to prove ourselves,” Lathan said.
Their perspective makes sense. Much less so than fans, or even coaches, players have their own jobs to worry about. They ultimately have to put a program’s money where its mouth is. They have their own expectations that the public often doesn’t know about and that sometimes doesn’t jive with even their own fans’ perceptions.
In other words, it would be a waste of a player’s time to spend any time worrying about what other people think about them.
“As a competitor, you think you’re the best. You’re not going to let someone else’s opinion affect you,” ISU guard Jake Kelly said.
Preseason polls are fun. They generate discussion. Nearly all of the league’s observers — coaches, sports information directors, radio play-by-play men and newspaper beat writers comprise the voting pool — take the polls very seriously when they do their voting. I know I’m in a constant state of assessment throughout the off-season before I turn in my poll every year ... and that still doesn’t make it easy when it comes time to put choices down to pen and paper.
If there are agendas amongst the voters — and I don’t think there are among the vast majority of them — there’s nothing to be gained it. Sometimes traditonal powers get the benefit of the doubt versus an emerging program, and that might be biting ISU a bit at present, but that has far more to do with human nature than it does any kind of organized “conspiracy.”
That doesn’t mean the players don’t create a pecking order of their own in private. Focused on their own jobs though they may be, they’re not completely insular. It’s also their job to have at least a cursory knowledge of the teams in the rest of the league, so privately, they play the same game the public and media do when it comes to sizing up the competition.
“There’s teams we’re worried about and there’s teams we’re not worried about. That’s how I think about it. We talk about where we are too and I definitely don’t think we’re seventh,” Lathan said.
“You have to give your own team first, but we do talk about who’s got who back, we compare the teams, but we ignore the fact that people think we’re seventh,” Kelly said.
In the end, preseason polls ultimately mean nothing. The only time a team’s place in the polls is remembered is when they greatly exceed expectations — as Drake did in 2008 when it won the MVC championship — or vice versa.
The beauty of basketball, as opposed to FCS football, is that polls have zero bearing on who makes the postseason. Preseason polls matter a little bit in major college football because it sets the table for the rest of the season. Basketball doesn’t have to worry about that.
And certainly, within the framework of the MVC, the round-robin schedule determines a true champion. The Sycamores will get their chance to prove they’re better than seventh and eighth, respectively, in the fairest way possible ... by playing everyone twice.
So don’t sweat the preseason polls too much. In a couple of weeks, when the real games begin, you’ll have likely forgotten what you were upset about.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Check out Golden’s blog at blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley.
ST. LOUIS —
The Indiana State men were picked where in the MVC Preseason poll?
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
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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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- FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge