TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is in a nexus between patience and progress.
With seven newcomers on a 12-man roster, the patience part of that nexus is obvious. Both the Sycamores’ players and coaches know full-well that having that percentage of newcomers on the roster means the Sycamores will still be a work-in-progress when they take to the Pauley Pavilion hardwood for Friday’s season-opener against UCLA.
Though ISU had summer practices, a Bahamas trip and preseason practice to gel, team chemistry just doesn’t click on command. It takes time. It takes trial-and-error. It takes a good share of failure before players get it right.. It’s hard. It can be frustrating, but Lansing feels that once the Sycamores work some of their bugs out, they have the talent to have a good season.
“I like them because they’re good people off the court and they’re good people. They have good chemistry off the court. What we’re struggling with is our chemistry and competitiveness on the court right now,” Lansing said.
In terms of minutes, ISU returns just 77.7 minutes per game from its 2011-12 roster — and 31.1 of those minutes were taken up by point guard Jake Odum. The junior has recovered from the plantar fasciitis that dogged him during his sophomore season and the first-team All-MVC preseason selection is the unquestioned cog of the Sycamores.
After that, the experience level drops off considerably. Forward R.J. Mahurin played 16.4 minutes per game in an injury-plagued sophomore campaign.
Mahurin’s a scorer (7.2 per game, but a team-high 18 points per-40 minutes) who will be counted on to help the Sycamores even more in that department this season. Guard Lucas Eitel played 13.3 minutes and will continue to provide depth to the backcourt.
The biggest uptick in minutes will come from ISU’s sophomore big men. When junior college transfer Mike Samuels broke his foot on the Sycamores’ August Bahamas trip (Samuels is likely out for the season), it gave Jake Kitchell and Justin Gant their chance to man the middle. Neither played more than 10 minutes per game last season, but that will change.
Which leaves seven healthy new players … and the heart of ISU’s quest for chemistry.
“Off-the-court, I think we all get along. On-the-court? Some guys are here, some guys are other places. It comes down to us older guys to hold everyone accountable and make sure everyone’s there, focused and ready to go. If everyone’s mentally engaged, that chemistry can come through practice,” Kitchell said.
Not all of ISU’s newbies are created equal. About the only thing ISU’s newcomers have in common is that they’ll make their Sycamore debuts on Friday. After that, given their differing levels of experience, the similarities end.
Swingman Manny Arop has Division I experience at Gonzaga and is an athletic talent who can shoot and is expected to produce immediately. Then there’s ISU’s two redshirt freshmen — point guard Devonte Brown and shooting guard Brandon Burnett. Both have had a year’s worth of time to absorb Lansing’s system.
Khristian Smith was also around for the entirety of the 2011-12 season, but couldn’t practice due to academic ineligibility. The freshman swingman might be ISU’s most gifted player of all.
Equally comfortable shooting or slashing to the basket, Smith is also learning to improve his defense. Junior college transfer Dawon Cummings has shown flashes of offensive and defensive prowess and is also expected to help immediately.
Finally, there’s true freshmen Rhett Smith and T.J. Bell. Both are forwards and both could be pressed into service given the injury-depleted frontcourt.
The different stage each player is at adds an element of difficulty to building chemistry. Lansing admitted that he detests “repeating himself” in practice. But also realizes that patience is virtue he and the coaching staff must show in the early stages of the season.
“It really is a process and it requires us all to be patient. We had Jake Odum play heavy minutes last year and no one else really did. We have a lot of inexperience. Guys are searching their way, finding their way, trying to find out what their roles are. They have to be able to trust each other. We have to hold each other accountable and trust each other on the court,” Lansing said.
Patience requires dealing with the adversity that patience requires. It’s inevitable that players are going to mess up. What you don’t want is for the mistakes to devolve into habits that can deep-six confidence and turn the season in the wrong direction.
“When things are going well, it’s easy to support each other. When things aren’t going well? Guys start worrying about their own selves. Then the communication level goes down. These guys aren’t selfish guys, they’re good guys, but on the court, they can be a little selfish,” Lansing said.
“That just means they’re worrying about how they’re doing too much. We’re suffering from that too much, but we’ll get out of it. They work hard and they listen,” he added.
Veteran leadership usually helps to smooth these issues out. ISU’s two Jake’s — Odum and Kitchell — have emerged as leaders.
“I think what the younger guys need to do is to listen well and get it right the first time. If they don’t have it, ask a question or slow things down a bit. That’s better than just going through it, messing it up, and then having coach have to explain it again. Make sure you have it before you go through it,” Kitchell said.
Odum — who said he wants to take both a vocal and a lead-by-example approach — thinks games will provide an impetus for chemistry.
“This time of year is the hardest grind of all, really. Building chemistry? You can do it in practice, but you have to learn it over games. You learn game-by-game on how guys move on certain plays, how they read defenses. Once we get past the early part of the year, we’ll develop chemistry even more than we have and we’ll move on,” Odum said.
If ISU can get the alchemy right, the Sycamores believe they can have a good season. ISU was picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference and finished 8-10 in the MVC a year ago. However, ISU was just one missed bucket in the regular-season finale away from finishing in a tie for third place.
“We’re really talented. Honestly, if we can get everything right, the possibilities are limitless for this team,” Kitchell said.
TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is in a nexus between patience and progress.
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.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Indiana State women move within one win from MVC title
Senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir had 23 points to lead Indiana State to a 73-71 win at Drake on Thursday. The point guard led four Sycamores in double figures in the win.
Anna Munn, Jasmine Grier and Chelsea Small each chipped in 11 points as ISU shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range as a team.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
Rose-Hulman seniors lead Engineers into NCAA Division III Tournament
For Rose-Hulman’s six senior men’s basketball players, this weekend will mark the beginning of their third and final appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Having left Terre Haute by bus Thursday, Rose (22-5) will open the Division III four-team regional at Hope College in Holland, Mich., today against Wheaton College (19-8) at the unique time of 5:30 p.m.
Coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers are coming off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) regular-season and tournament championships for the second consecutive year.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
Nebraska completes sweep of Indiana
Indiana’s slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid are all but done, unless the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska never trailed Wednesday night, completing a season sweep of the Hoosiers with a 70-60 win. The loss ensures a losing conference record for IU (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) while boosting the Huskers’ chances at an at-large berth.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Rose meets Wheaton in NCAA opener
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
- More College Headlines
- ISU’s Abdul-Qaadir, Munn All-MVC selections