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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
WEST LAFAYETTE —
No moral victories?
IU holds Oakland marksman in check
Oakland’s Travis Bader came into Tuesday night’s game at Indiana University’s Assembly Hall as the NCAA’s active leading 3-point shooter in men’s basketball.
The Hoosiers didn’t give him a chance to shoot the Grizzlies to an upset.
Bader’s NCAA-leading streak of games with a made 3-pointer ended at 62 as IU cruised to an 81-54 win.
Tough defeat: Inability to finish drops ISU women’s record to 3-4
It wasn’t a smooth ride for Indiana State’s women’s basketball team against IUPUI on Monday. Defense wasn’t up to par. Turnovers were rampant. Foul shooting was not consistent and misses were ill-timed.
ISU’s Munn, ex-Riverton Parke player Dickey earn MVC honors
Wabash VaIley athletes swept Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball honors on Monday, with Indiana State’s Anna Munn named Player of the Week and Evansville’s Sara Dickey, a Riverton Parke graduate, earning Newcomer of the Week honors.
Strong defensive effort keys RHIT victory
Rose-Hulman placed three players in double figures and relied on a strong defensive effort to top Millikin 64-55 in men’s college basketball action Monday night.
Metro: Indiana Hall of Fame lauds two Wabash Valley athletes
Two players from the Wabash Valley have been named members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team that will be honored in March. Tony McGee and Kenny Rowan are members of the honor team.
ISU picks up the defense to take down Eastern Illinois
When it's cold outside, it takes a while for your car engine to crank.
It wasn't cold inside Eastern Illinois' Lantz Arena on Saturday, but the same principle applied for the Indiana State men's basketball team.
Once the Sycamore engine revved up, the Sycamores cruised to a 66-48 victory over the Panthers.
Michigan State shakes up national title chase with win over Ohio State
Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.
The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook's 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.
Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court
Winning basketball teams need glue players, the term sometimes used when referring to someone who helps hold it all together.
In some cases, that means getting the ball in the right place at the right time. Or having a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
It’s more often than not coming away with a loose ball on the court. It’s deflecting so many passes that you become the player that most annoys the opponent.
For Indiana State, that’s Natasha Zurek. The junior athletic training major was inserted into the starting lineup for the past two games.
Zurek leads the Sycamores with 16 steals through six games, which isn’t surprising to anyone on the team.
EIU might come at right time for ISU
Sometimes an opponent lines up just right on the schedule that suits a team’s needs.
That’s true for Indiana State as it travels to play Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. today at Lantz Arena. And it’s not because the Panthers have struggled, even though they have.
Young gun: Freshman Belyea leads Engineers to second straight victory over Saint Mary-of-the Woods
Freshman women’s college basketball players sparked Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Rose-Hulman on Wednesday in Hulbert Arena. Playing her first major minutes of the season, Rose-Hulman guard Kristen Belyea was the clutch shooter for the Engineers. In the second half, Belyea knocked down 4 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc to help the Engineers earn a second straight victory in the rivalry with a 74-54 decision.
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.
- More College Headlines
- IU holds Oakland marksman in check