TERRE HAUTE —
Options. Every team wants them. Not every team has them.
Take Indiana State’s men’s basketball team for example. It thought it had options in its frontcourt going into the 2012-13 season, but Mike Samuels’ broken foot suffered during the preseason trip to the Bahamas changed the equation for the Sycamores.
The injury situation forced ISU to mix-and-match with Justin Gant, Jake Kitchell and R.J. Mahurin, with players such as Gant and Mahurin often playing out of their natural positions.
Mahurin transferred and Samuels is still trying to recover from a second foot surgery during the offseason, but the Sycamores feel much better about their frontcourt options entering this season. Redshirt freshman T.J. Bell and junior college transfer Demetrius Moore are the reason.
Teej and Meech, their nicknames on the practice floor, give the Sycamores decent size — Bell is 6-foot-8 and Moore is 6-foot-7 — but moreover, they both give ISU a dose of athleticism it hasn’t had in some time.
“Since we’ve been here, we’ve known we needed to improve our depth and athleticism. This is as deep as we’ve been and as athletic as we’ve been. We need to consistently stay that way,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
They’re different players. Bell has an impressive vertical leap and works hard for easy layups, second-chance opportunities in the paint or a dunk. Moore uses his quickness to pivot around defenders, put the ball on the floor, and get to the basket. He’s also a solid passer.
Bell’s development has been a year in the making. When he arrived from Charleston, Ill. last season, he was extremely raw. It took the introverted Bell some time to get used to the level of conditioning Lansing demands, much less improve upon his skills.
“I told T.J. [on Tuesday] that he’s come farther than any kind in a year that I’ve been around. That being said, he had farther to go than anyone and he still has a long ways to go. He’s improved tremendously,” Lansing said.
Bell’s teammates noticed that he had to use his redshirt season to improve in many areas. But Bell began to come around in last year’s late season practices and his veteran teammates have seen a dramatic change in the course of a year.
ISU guard Jake Odum said Bell’s change from one year to the next is considerable.
“He wasn’t mature and his body hadn’t caught up with where he needed to be to play at the college level. This past year, he really developed, and you can say he became a man,” Odum said. “He’s more mature, he grew into his body and trimmed that baby fat. He’s going to be one of future guys to deal with in the Valley.”
Bell, who worked hard on his conditioning in the offseason, said he’s more comfortable and that comfort level helps a lot.
“Last year helped me a lot. In terms of lifting, getting the hang of things and getting the offense. This year, I know the spots I need to be. I hadn’t seen the plays last year and it comes to me better now. The pace is something I’ve become used to too,” Bell said.
Like most junior college players, Moore is raw entering his first season of Division I basketball, but even more so, considering he sat out a year after playing at Northwest Florida.
Also like most JUCO players, Moore has been relying on his raw talent first as he works on familiarizing himself with his teammates and Lansing’s offense and defense.
“ I feel good. I’ve come here and bonded and I’ve tried to get better. I ran the motion in high school. I didn’t do it at my JUCO, but I’m getting used to it,” Moore said.
The adjustment period is not to be dismissed. Moore’s frontcourt teammate — center Jake Kitchell — noted that ISU’s veterans are trying to get Moore caught up because they know the talent he has to give.
“We’ve been here for at least a year. We know what he wants done and how he wants it done. Demetrius just came from a whole different school. Learning what the coach wants is a hard thing to do, but he’s working at it,” Kitchell said.
Moore’s 6-7, 230-pound frame is one the Sycamores haven’t had in quite some time. Long, athletic and muscular, Lansing compared him physically to former Sycamore Djibril Kante. Players with that kind of build can be hard to come by for Missouri Valley Conference schools.
“It’s hard recruiting at this level to get guys like T.J. and Demetrius. We had to work hard to develop T.J. and we took Demetrius after he sat out a year. It’s so competitive to get interior guys,” Lansing noted.
But if it all works out, ISU will have those interior options teams covet. ISU’s four primary bigs — Bell, Moore, Kitchell and Justin Gant — all do things a little bit differently. If Bell and Moore realize their potential, they will mesh in well with Kitchell, who is a traditional post player, and Gant, who could revert back to the face-up game he’s more adept at than the 5-spot he often played a year ago.
“It’s going to be nice to interchange those guys and have Kitch at the 5-spot. It’ll be nice to have a few more wrinkles,” Odum said.
Bell, Moore give ISU frontcourt choices this season
TERRE HAUTE —
Options. Every team wants them. Not every team has them.
Strickland leads RHIT men to win
Rose-Hulman opened its Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball season with a 66-50 victory at Anderson University on Wednesday.
Metro: Boys county title games set for tonight
A pair of championship games in the Vigo County middle school boys basketball tournament will be played today in West Vigo High School’s main gym. At 6 p.m., Woodrow Wilson will take on Sarah Scott for the sixth-grade title. Then at about 7:30, Wilson and Honey Creek will tangle for the seventh-grade crown.
METRO ROUNDUP: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Rose-Hulman set to battle for Clabber Girl trophy
With the Clabber Girl Trophy hanging in the balance for the 21st time, the Rose-Hulman women’s basketball team will welcome crosstown rival Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to Hulbert Arena today for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.
The Engineers (0-4) will look to defend their title after capturing the Clabber Girl Trophy for the first time since 2008 with last season’s 80-74 victory.
ISU’s Underwood named first team All-MVC
Sophomore linebacker/defensive end Connor Underwood was named to the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team on Monday, heading a list of five Indiana State players honored.
Red-hot Strickland leads Engineers past Wabash 77-68
Julian Strickland tied his career-high point total with 31 Monday night — his third consecutive 30-point game this season — as host Rose-Hulman downed Wabash 77-68 in Hulbert Arena.
Metro sports: ISU women play today at No. 15 LSU
Indiana State’s women finish a three-game road swing by playing nationally ranked LSU at 12:30 p.m. today at Baton Rouge.
Rose-Hulman women fall short to Marian
A clutch 3-pointer and free throws down the stretch sealed the home victory for Marian University in Saturday’s competitive 50-45 nonconference victory over the Rose-Hulman women’s basketball team.
Strickland pours in 30, but the Engineers fall in home opener
Carroll University withstood a last-minute challenge by Rose-Hulman to earn a 67-64 men’s basketball victory in the Engineers’ home opener Saturday afternoon in Hulbert Arena.
Indiana State holds off hot-shooting Pepperdine
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is very much a work in progress defensively. Evidence of that came Saturday when Pepperdine shot 57.8 percent against the Sycamores in the fourth-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
But when it came down to winning time? Pepperdine’s Waves crashed on the rocks of ISU’s defense.
Hoosiers gain 692 total yards, re-claim Oaken Bucket
Although his team fell well short of defending its possession of the Old Oaken Bucket Saturday against Indiana, Purdue’s freshman quarterback Danny Etling — a Terre Haute South grad — showed poise and talent in bringing the Boilermakers back in the second half in a 56-36 loss.
Sycamores outpace Seawolves
Indiana State wanted a better defensive effort in its Great Alaska Shootout consolation semifinal game against host Alaska-Anchorage on Friday, but the Seawolves weren’t going to give the Sycamores an orthodox offense to assess themselves with.
Prep/Metro roundup: Marshall girls pick up big wins at Robinson
Marshall’s Lions got a huge girls high school basketball victory Friday afternoon at the Robinson Thanksgiving Tournament, downing Mt. Carmel and 2013 Illinois Miss Basketball Tyra Buss 57-53.
Uneven Sycamores fall 63-62 to Tulsa
Indiana State loses to Tulsa 63-62 in opening game of Great Alaska Shootout
Tulsa's switching defenses confounded Sycamores
Tulsa paid Indiana State the respect they feel the Sycamores earned with a 3-1 start and a win at Notre Dame on Nov. 17.
So the Golden Hurricane threw multiple defenses at the Sycamores.
On target: Sycamores spreading the wealth with their shooting
Indiana State’s men's basketball team did many things right during the 2012-13 season, but one thing it couldn’t get a handle on was its 3-point shooting. The Sycamores shot 32.1 percent from 3-point range, ranked 252nd in the nation. It was going to take a lot of work to improve ISU’s percentage. So far, hard work has had its own reward.
O’Leary eyes return to Hulman Center
Former Terre Haute North standout Matt O’Leary is hoping to help Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser turn the program into a new chapter of success in a new conference.
College report: Gardner jumps at chance to play for ISU
Cody Gardner enjoyed his freshman baseball season at Wright State and earned more time on the field than he honestly expected to get. Coach Rob Cooper departed WSU after last season to take over at Penn State, however, and Gardner jumped at the chance to return to his hometown as an Indiana State Sycamore and perform for the school where two members of his family previously excelled.
Young Evansville team unable to threaten Indiana
Indiana coach Tom Crean surprised everyone by starting senior walk-on Jeff Howard. Evansville didn’t give themselves the chance to surprise the Hoosiers.
Metro roundup: Rose star is conference POW
After a career-high 31-point performance on Saturday night, Rose-Hulman senior Julian Strickland has been named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
NCAA championships: Runners face muddy course, stiff winds as well as each other at Gibson course
More than 500 runners were prepared for a muddy course, but the NCAA’s elite also had to fight a wind chill in the teens Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Nothing was going to stop Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, who upset defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech or women’s champion Abbey D’Agostino, who adds her first NCAA title in cross country to her four national titles on the track.
ISU defeats Truman
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
In Truman State’s case, you can expect a pretty good showing. Indiana State had some nervous moments against the Bulldogs, but the Sycamores prevailed 80-69 on Friday at Hulman Center.
ISU football closes out season against SIU
Indiana State’s football team had its last practice of the 2013 season Thursday and it had a jovial climax.
Favorites look to win at NCAA cross country championships
Two consensus thoughts prevailed in the hunt for the NCAA cross country individual championships: Kenyan Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech is the heavy favorite to repeat as men’s 10,000-meter champion and Dartmouth senior Abbey D’Agostino, last year’s runner-up, will be tough to stop from winning the women’s 6,000-meter race.
ISU’s Underwood family affected by Illinois tornado
Indiana State defensive end Connor Underwood can be forgiven if football wasn’t the biggest thing on his mind this week as the team prepared for its season finale against Southern Illinois today.
New officiating edict could help ISU's Odum
For ISU, one player immediately comes to mind as far as who might benefit most from the new rules -- senior point guard Jake Odum.
Gant looms large in ISU's 2013-14 improvement
It’s no overstatement that as Justin Gant went in the 2012-13 season, so did the Indiana State’s men’s basketball team.
- ISU women have options in the post
Terre Haute’s Mundy helping young Hoosiers climb toward top
It didn’t take long for Chanli Mundy to find her way home from Bloomington.
The 2011 Terre Haute North all-state cross country runner arrived on the Indiana University campus this summer knowing making the varsity team might be a long shot.
But she put in the quality miles, believed in herself and is ahead of schedule as a freshman for the Hoosiers, who received an at-large berth to Saturday’s NCAA championships at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Rose-Hulman’s Smyser is still embracing clutch goal
When sophomore Mike Smyser guided the ball into the net during the opening minutes of the Rose-Hulman men’s soccer match against undefeated, NCAA Division III No. 1-ranked Ohio Wesleyan on Sunday in Delaware, Ohio, he had no idea it would be the only goal of a hard-fought match.
Rose-Hulman’s Sokol named HCAC Coach of the Year
Rose-Hulman’s Jeff Sokol was named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Football Coach of the Year and 13 Engineers earned all-league recognition for their efforts during the 2013 season.
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- Strickland leads RHIT men to win