News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 12, 2012

Bonding, practice time more important than games

ISU men’s basketball begins Bahamas tour today

Todd Golden
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing isn’t often stumped, but in the run-up to ISU’s exhibition trip to the Bahamas — games begin today — he was asked a question that left him momentarily speechless.

The question? Who will be in ISU’s starting five for the first game?

“Oh boy,” Lansing said as he pondered the question for a moment.

“I think [Jake] Odum’s fairly safe. I really like what R.J. [Mahurin] and [Jake] Kitchell have done, but we really haven’t talked about it. To say who our starting lineup is? Manny [Arop] has looked awfully good. Those guys have good shots to start, but we’ll throw a lot of combinations out there.”

It isn’t that Lansing doesn’t have an ISU starting five in his mind … he very likely does.

He was caught off-guard primarily because ISU’s trip to the Bahamas isn’t necessarily about the games. Participating in an international exhibition tour — something NCAA schools can do every four years — is more about the 10 practices gained by playing the games.

Lansing admitted that the practice time the inexperienced Sycamores have had means a lot more than showing what ISU can do against its three Bahamian opponents.

“I’m more concerned with the 10 days of practice [the team has had] than I am with the three games. I don’t want to have a bunch of meetings, I don’t want to watch a bunch of tape, I want these guys to have fun. It just so happens the three nights we have games. The games will be different, I’ll have to calm myself down,” Lansing said.

Lansing said the pre-Bahamas practices have served their purpose. He knew that he’d have to put on his professor’s cap more often than previous seasons given that there are eight Sycamores on the roster who have never played a game at ISU.

“I’m not one to repeat myself — and I’ve had to do that quite a bit during these practices — but that’s the great thing about taking this trip. We can get some of the rust out, get familiar with each other, go down there and get three games to base on what we have as a team,” Lansing said.

During the five-day, three-game trip, the Sycamores will almost exclusively be together. Lansing said he has “fun” activities planned for the team to help them to bond.

If you talk to the players, however, the trip isn’t all about bonding and fun in the Caribbean sun. ISU swingman Arop wants the Sycamores to show that some of what they’ve worked through on the court during practice can be applied to game situations.

“We’re already a tight group. We’re always chillin’ together. The most important thing now is to come out clicking on the court. This is a good opportunity for us,” Arop said.

Not much is known about ISU’s three opponents. ISU opens today with the Real Deal Shockers at 7:30 p.m. Monday’s opponent is the Mailboat Cybots, a game that will also be played at 7:30 p.m. Both teams are members of the Bahamas’ National Professional Basketball Association.

ISU finishes with the Bahamas All-Stars at 9 p.m. Tuesday. All games are being played at Nassau’s Kendal Isaacs Gym.

Creighton played all three teams on a 2011 trip. It beat the Bahamas All-Stars 106-82, the Cybots were felled 91-68 and the Real Deal Shockers were beaten 104-53.

The Cybots were beaten 102-69 on Thursday by Florida Gulf Coast. Among other teams that have made or are making trips to the Bahamas are Arizona (a potential ISU opponent in December’s Diamond Head Classic), Tulane, Colorado State and Morgan State.

“I’m not quite sure about who we’re playing. I know we play a team that played Creighton tough last year. We expect it to be a challenge. I’m sure they’ll be competitive and have some good talent. We look forward to playing someone else for a few days,” Odum said.

Audio from all games will be streamed live on GoSycamores.com.