News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

December 2, 2010

ISU execution has improved since first-week struggles

Sycamores cut turnovers vs. No. 25 Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND — Going into its game Tuesday against Notre Dame, Indiana State’s men’s basketball team was just 13 days removed from a 75-60 debacle at Ball State where it committed 26 turnovers that led to 33 Cardinals’ points.

The Sycamores lost to the Irish. But the manner in which ISU lost 81-72 at No. 25-ranked Notre Dame seemed light years removed from that forgettable night in Muncie on Nov. 17.

On that earlier night, the Sycamores not only were generous with their giveaways, but seemed to lack chemistry and control on the floor. ISU was 1-3 and potentially in a bind.

Since then, ISU has won two of three. It has played within itself much better on the offensive end and been more patient with its shot selection. This was clear in the first half when ISU’s patient execution of its offense kept the Sycamores even with Notre Dame most of the way.

The Notre Dame game marked the first time ISU hasn’t had 10 or more turnovers. The Sycamores had seven, which led to just three Fighting Irish points. The Sycamores have shot 40 percent or better in their last four games.

“We’re improving and we needed to. We’re far from a finished product on either end of the floor. We’ve got to be a tougher defensive team, and we have to be a little less selfish on offense, but I like our potential,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

The feeling-out process among the players seems less evident on the floor as roles have solidified and rotations have become more consistent. Another factor helping ISU is that Jake Odum’s increased minutes at point guard have allowed Jake Kelly to be a scorer without having to also be the primary distributor when Odum handles the reigns.

“It’s chemistry. Any new team, new coach has to gel together. Everyone’s trying to figure that one thing that makes us all work. Lansing is doing a great job of getting us to learn and listen to him, and he lets us know we’ll be all right and we’ll get on a roll,” ISU swingman Dwayne Lathan said.

Lansing agreed.

“Guys are working hard, they’re listening, they’re trying to do what the coaches tell them. Obviously we’re getting better, but we didn’t come up here for a moral victory. We came up here with a good gameplan to beat Notre Dame. It just didn’t happen,” Lansing said.

Lucas Eitel gets more playing time — Lansing inserted Lucas Eitel for eight minutes in the second half, tied for the most the redshirt freshman guard has had this season, but arguably, the most meaningful minutes the Marshall, Ill., native has had all season.

Eitel replaced Lathan and gave the Sycamores a settling presence when it seemed the Sycamores might get out of control.

“He did a good job. Aaron [Carter] has struggled a little bit, he hasn’t shot it as well, and he kind of came in and made a mistake on the defensive end and took a tough shot on the offensive end. Lucas will go in there, listen and do what he’s supposed to do. He gave us a lift when he hit his first shot,” Lansing said.

Eitel, along with guards such as Carter and Steve McWhorter, should get more minutes as Jordan Printy remains out with a high ankle sprain.

“With J.P. being out, we’re looking for someone to make shots when Jake [Kelly] and Dwayne are driving,” Lansing said.

Notre Dame players weigh in — Notre Dame’s players praised ISU’s players and the Sycamores’ effort, but also indicated that ISU’s ability to stay in the game betrayed a weakness on their part.

“They were a very good team. They were disciplined and they stuck to their stuff. They knocked down some shots when they had to and they fought hard,” Notre Dame guard Scott Martin said.

One concern Notre Dame had was potentially being flat after it played three games in four days in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. The desire to fight off that fatigue played a role in Notre Dame’s increased second-half focus.

“The first half was a little sloppy for us and we didn’t play to our potential at all. We addressed that in the locker room at halftime and told ourselves that we can’t play down to the level of competition. In the second half, we came out and played more toward our potential,” said Notre Dame guard Ben Hansbrough, who scored a career-high 24 points.

The Fighting Irish are 8-0 for the first time since the 1973-74 season.

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