WEST LAFAYETTE —
No moral victories?
Bull. Its always been bull and it will always be bull. The Sycamores proved again that moral victories are very real, and can be very rewarding.
All they needed to do to prove it was to look at the stunned faces of the Purdue faithful at Ross-Ade Stadium in the Sycamores’ near-miss 20-14 loss to Purdue.
No one ever wants to admit to a moral victory, least of all, coaches and players who go through the pain of a tough defeat. They aren’t in the mood to be soothed by the idea that though they fell short, they still gave it their all.
“We didn’t win, we fell short, we ran out of time, and we didn’t make enough plays, but I’m very proud of our team. Our goal was to be the most improved team in the country from Week 1 to Week 2. In a lot of ways, we did that,” ISU coach Mike Sanford said.
I won’t watch every college football game this weekend, but I think I’m on solid ground when I say that ISU comfortably accomplished Sanford’s mission.
After looking abject against the Hoosiers in the now infamous 73-35 loss on Aug. 29, the Sycamores swung 180 degrees and looked like a legitimate Missouri Valley Football Conference contender against Purdue.
Hyperbole? I don’t think so. Yes Purdue isn’t very good by Big Ten standards and it’s likely to be a long season in West Lafayette.
But Purdue is a lot closer to the norm of what ISU is going to face week-to-week in the MVFC than high-flying Indiana is. The positives seen Saturday were ones that can be projected upon the likes of the Dakota schools and other MVFC contenders.
It really was eye-popping to see ISU go from one extreme to the other. ISU went from seemingly endless question marks to a laundry list of positives.
“We improved a lot. We improved a lot on both offense and defense. I’m happy with a lot of the strides we made even though we wanted to win,” ISU defensive end Connor Underwood said.
Chief among them was ISU’s ability to handle adversity. The Sycamores did so miles better than they did against the Hoosiers. ISU suffered an opening kickoff return for a touchdown, lost their best receiving target (Jamar Brown) on the second series and went through a rough patch where the offensive line struggled, which resulted in quarterback Mike Perish being sacked five times.
“We made it through some adverse situations. Some of those plays killed drives. If we get rid of those drive-killers, I think it shows we have a lot of potential,” Perish said.
But the Sycamores still stayed the course. After some adroit halftime adjustments, the ISU offense was rolling. Of ISU’s 295 yards of total offense, 224 were gained in the second half.
“The positive is we played together really well. Against a team like Purdue, we showed we can compete and we showed we can gain some respect. Next time, we just need to get a victory,” said ISU wide receiver Demory Lawshe, who had one of ISU’s two second half touchdowns.
The biggest thing ISU proved was that it could move the ball without the services of running back Shakir Bell. For the offense to operate without the player who accounted for nearly 50 percent of their gains from scrimmage in 2012 is a wonderful thing.
After being exploited in equal parts via the run and pass against Indiana, ISU’s defense took a significant step forward. Purdue might not be on-task offensively at this stage of the season, but ISU made the Boilermakers that way on Saturday.
Quarterback Rob Henry never got comfortable. Purdue’s running backs broke some runs, but not with any consistency. And the goal line stands by ISU’s defensive line and linebackers? Those are the kind of moments that cement a defense and make it whole.
“We don’t like to take moral victories, but that’s a Big Ten team. They’re a good team, a physical team, but I think our defense showed we can play with anyone in the nation,” ISU safety Mark Sewall said.
The special teams? They still need work, but you can’t have it all. A kick return was given up and a punt was blocked. But the special teams even got better as time went on, evidenced by Jordon Stangler’s perfect coffin corner punt late in the fourth quarter.
Bottom line is that the feeling of unease (dread?) for ISU’s prospects this season that came out of the Indiana game dissipated. Now, ISU can move forward with a sense of purpose, and can also know that they have the ability to make the IU loss an aberration not the norm.
Even if it was all accomplished in the context of defeat.
“This is a journey, it’s not a destination. We’re on the way to making ourselves a great football team. We’re not there yet. We should have won today. If we’re a great football team, we win today,” Sanford said.
Great? No. Better? Without a doubt.
It’s a moral victory. Don’t run away from it. Wear it well.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
WEST LAFAYETTE —
No moral victories?
ISU falls one step short at MVC women's semis
ISU's women's basketball team falls 66-58 to Drake in MVC women's tournament semifinals.
ISU’s Family Arena struggles continue
Indiana State’s women’s basketball postseason struggles continued Saturday in The Family Arena, site of the seventh neutral-site version of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
- Three All-Americans for ISU track at NCAA indoors
Rose’s Stull pitches well in losing cause
Andrew Stull made a strong bid to stay in the Rose-Hulman baseball starting pitching rotation Friday evening, but his lack of support — offensively and defensively — still added up to a 7-0 loss as the Engineers opened the Rose-Hulman Invitational against Concordia Chicago.
Metro Sports: ISU baseball’s winning streak halted at 12
The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks scored on a walk-off single in the ninth inning to end Indiana State’s 12-game winning streak in baseball with a 3-2 victory Friday at Brooks Field.
ISU trio reach NCAA track finals
Indiana State’s Greggmar Swift and Katie Wise both advanced to today’s finals in their respective events on the first day of the 2014 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships hosted by the University of New Mexico.
VIDEO: ISU defeats Loyola in MVC women's tournament
Marina Laramie led the Sycamores with nine of her 15 points in the second half. The sophomore from nearby O’Fallon, Mo., had six of those points during a 9-2 ISU run after halftime.
VIDEO: Mahan's 17 rebounds among five best totals in league tournament history
The toughness — both mental and physical — of Marina Laramie and Racheal Mahan — is a big reason the Indiana State women’s basketball team won five games in a row to close the regular season.
The resolve of the Sycamore post duo was put to the test Friday in the MVC Tournament quarterfinals, and Laramie and Mahan were up to the task.
ISU men await postseason fate
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team returned to practice on Friday without a team or a tournament to prepare for.
Abrams leads Illini over IU in Big Ten tournament
Now, Indiana waits.
To see if the NIT wants the Hoosiers for an at-large berth.
To see if Noah Vonleh will head to the NBA after one season in Bloomington.
No. 24 Ohio State holds off Purdue 63-61
Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter appreciated his team’s effort Thursday.
He still didn’t like the numbers on the box score — or the scoreboard.
Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross combined to score nine points in a late 12-4 run that gave No. 24 Ohio State control and the Buckeyes held on for a 63-61 win — only after Terone Johnson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer came up short in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
ISU’s Abdul-Qaadir, Munn All-MVC selections
Senior guards Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Anna Munn have both been named to Missouri Valley Conference All-Conference teams, announced by the league on Wednesday. Abdul-Qaadir earned a spot on the first-team while Munn was named honorable mention.
History in making?: Indiana, Purdue need to reverse recent trends to keep offseason hopes alive
The state’s two Big Ten schools could begin the offseason as soon as tonight, depending on how they fare in the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament.
Metro sports: ‘Lucky Lou’ strikes again on golf course
Retired Public Service Indiana employee Lou Mundell, a lifelong resident of Terre Haute, posted the fifth hole-in-one of his life Tuesday afternoon at the Harder Hall Country Club golf course in his winter home of Sebring.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU softball splits pair in Florida
Pitching dominated Tuesday’s opening day of play in the Rebel Spring Games for the Indiana State softball team, which defeated Bucknell 2-0 before falling 2-0 to Creighton.
“The girls did a great job in the first game getting a couple runs,” ISU coach Shane Bouman said. “We leaned on [sophomore] Yvette Alvarez who pitched really well. We probably got as much as we could out of her and probably should have changed earlier so put that on me. We have a couple little things we can clean up and get a little better and we will be ready to go tomorrow.”
Oh snap: Reed's 18-game hitting streak falls in No. 20 UK's loss at No. 16 IU
No. 16 Indiana mounted two-run rallies in the first and fourth innings and the Hoosiers ended the hitting streak of Terre Haute native A.J. Reed at 18 games to post a 7-2 win over No. 20 Kentucky on Tuesday.
Despite going hitless, Reed remains the NCAA leader in home runs (8) and RBI (28) for a potent Wildcats’ offense.
Kentucky (13-4) dropped its first game with the Hoosiers in the last four meetings, with the meeting marking the first time in modern UK history (2003-present) that the two teams faced off as top-20 foes.
Munn named MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Indiana State leads the Missouri Valley with six of the MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards after Anna Munn earned the recognition Tuesday for the 2013-14 season.
Munn joins Kourtney Mennen (2003), Melanie Boeglin (2006), Laura Rudolphi (2007) and Kelsey Luna (2009 and 2010) as winners of the award, which began in 2002.
ISU win streak at 12
Ryan Keaffaber recorded his sixth save in seven opportunities Monday as Indiana State won its 12th straight college baseball game, holding off a rally by visiting Western Illinois for a 7-4 victory on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.
Another Rose freshman making big splash
The Rose-Hulman men’s swimming team received a much-needed boost last season when a talented freshman from Ohio entered to set school records, rack up conference titles and qualify for the NCAA Division III championships. So when the Rose women’s swimming team needed a boost this season, what did it do? Yep, the Engineers found another talented freshman from Ohio to do pretty much the same things.
Metro sports: Indiana State's Abdul-Qaadir honored by MVC again
Bilquis Abdul-Qaadir of Indiana State has been named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week for women’s basketball, the league announced Monday.
Guts, sweat, tears: Sycamores fall to perfect Shockers
No one on Indiana State’s men’s basketball needed to say a word about the Sycamores’ 83-69 loss to Wichita State in Sunday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game.
Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best
It’s hard to run with Secretariat. Secretariat, for the uninitiated, won horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973 and famously stormed to victory in the Belmont Stakes by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest thoroughbred of all time, and his Belmont performance is one of sports’ all-time greatest moments. In Missouri Valley Conference terms, Wichita State is Secretariat.
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.
- More College Headlines
- ISU falls one step short at MVC women's semis