News From Terre Haute, Indiana

From the Press Box

January 22, 2012

TODD GOLDEN: Indiana State men caught between expectation, reality

Omaha, Neb. — The Missouri Valley Conference is hush-hush on how it puts together its matchups for the annual conference schedule. But if you’ve been following the league long enough, you can certainly derive a pattern.

It’s a pretty safe bet that Creighton’s home game against Indiana State at the exact mid-point of the season — broadcast on ESPN2 — was no coincidence.

Hot on the heels of an NCAA Tournament appearance and a third-place finish in the MVC last year, ISU was picked third by the Missouri Valley Conference coaches, media and sports information directors. The MVC assigned ISU six national and regional television appearances in anticipation of a league championship run. Creighton was the preseason favorite.

Creighton and Indiana State? On Dec. 27, it was must-see TV. At the time, these were two teams seemed destined for greatness.

Ummm, make that one team. Creighton comprehensively defeated ISU 75-49 at CenturyLink Center on Saturday.

While No. 18 Creighton enjoys national darling status as it climbs its stairway to the stars and bright lights of a likely NCAA Tournament bid, the Sycamores are hurtling out of control in the other direction.

ISU is on a collision course with an ignominious and wholly unexpected return to an appearance in the MVC Tournament’s Thursday play-in round. Once a time-dishonored ISU tradition, the Sycamores had hoped it had put its Thursday-in-St. Louis sojourns behind them, but just when you think the Sycamores are out, Thursday night keeps trying to pull them back in. Lately, with the gravitational force of the sun.

The facts are dire. The Sycamores are 2-7 at the midway point of the season. ISU has already exceeded its MVC loss total from last season, and it finds itself two games out of the safe zone to avoid the MVC Tournament play-in round.

Statistically, it’s not hard to discern how the Sycamores got in their bind. They don’t defend consistently, especially on the road, as ISU is eighth in conference-only scoring defense and sixth in conference-only field goal defense, one year after ISU led the MVC in the category. ISU is dead-last in conference-only scoring at 64.8 points and ninth in field goal percentage at 40.2 percent.

Anyone who says they saw the Sycamores’ fall coming is either Nostradamus incarnate or lying. I picked them second, and four MVC observers picked them to win the league. But the rot has been evident from the beginning of the MVC schedule and it seems many of the players still haven’t recognized it.

It’s an article of faith that the Sycamores will snap out of their doldrums, despite massing evidence to the contrary. There’s still a pervasive belief that their recent run of poor play — ISU has lost five in a row — is an aberration and that the “real” Sycamores will emerge and claim their rightful place among the MVC’s better teams.

“Our offense is fine. There’s some small things we need to care of. The big things will take care of themselves,” ISU center Myles Walker said.

On a certain level, you can’t blame the players. It’s always better to hold on to hope than to wave a white flag of surrender. But ISU’s run of poor play has gone on too far long to merely be a slump or an aberration.

At some point, you are what your record says you are. Halfway through the MVC season the standings don’t lie, they not only say, but scream to the mountain top, that ISU is a ninth-place team. The Sycamores are the mid-season MVC disappointment by a landslide.

Belief can be good, until it clouds judgment to the point where it morphs into delusion. ISU players walk that line. Offensively, ISU’s post players too often avoid going strong directly to the basket and take lower-percentage shots that have never given them more than mixed success during their careers — Myles Walker’s back-down turnaround post jumper and Carl Richard’s fadeaway jumper race immediately into mind.

The guards too often get caught up trying to hurry up the offense when the team’s defense gives in, and the resulting quick and forced shots just make the ISU predicament worse. ISU’s 67-54 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday was just one example of this.

A more disturbing pattern is that shots aren’t falling even when the offense isn’t trying to hurry. ISU made 4-of-16 from 3-point range against Creighton. ISU has failed to shot 30 percent or better from 3-point range in three of its last four games.

“I have this masters degree in counseling and I’ve been using that more than I’ve been coaching,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said after the Creighton game regarding ISU’s shooting woes. “I don’t know. Shooting is a lot between the ears. If its not going on, you doubt it a little bit, but as a basketball player, you have to be confident. If you miss 10, you have to know you’re going to make the next one.

“Get in the gym and shoot more shots at game speed,” Lansing added. “Have some toughness. I think that’s a toughness thing. As a tough player, you go back and defend on the other end. You don’t let missed shots affect you and we let way too many missed shots affect us. We miss a lot of easy ones and our shooting percentage shows it.”

ISU’s defensive fall has been shocking. ISU’s players talk constantly about wanting to be a sub-40 percent defensive team … and they had shutdown ability in the nonconference season. Ask Vanderbilt. Just five weeks ago, the Sycamores clamped down on them in their own quirky house. That seems like five decades ago given what’s happened since.

Talk hasn’t translated into results, and more disturbingly in some games, it hasn’t translated into effort either. And as Lansing pointed out, the Sycamores are susceptible to letting their offensive problems create defensive ones.

If the players don’t recognize these shortcomings, they’re bound to be repeated, no matter what the coaches tell them. And the fight to get out of Thursday night will be a futile one.

Music fans might know reggae star Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers To Cross. It’s a great song, covered by countless other artists including 70s eccentric maverick Harry Nilsson. As he sometimes did, Nilsson changed up Cliff’s original lyrics a bit and put his own spin on the song. Among the added lyrics was this …

“Many, many rivers to cross … but just where to begin …I’m playing for time … there are times when I find myself sitting in limbo.”

That’s where the Sycamores find themselves right now. Until they recognize that they’re going to have to work their way out of their predicament and drop the notion that a return to success will happen on its own, ISU will continue to “sit in limbo”.

On Thursday … in St. Louis. The MVC’s embodiment of purgatory. Or hell, given the heavenly expectations ISU had going into the season.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at or at (812) 231-4272. Please follow Golden on Twitter@TribStarTodd.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
From the Press Box
  • FROM THE PRESS BOX: Fair or unfair, ISU football most vulnerable to NCAA change

    It just doesn’t seem fair.
    Just when you think Indiana State football has achieved stability and a sense of calm, forces are ranged around it that continue to make it the most vulnerable sport offered at ISU.

    July 26, 2014

  • Todd Golden: Bigelow part of Action Track’s lifeblood

    Many things have changed since the Terre Haute Action Track opened in 1952, but the one constant is dirt.

    July 18, 2014

  • From the Press Box: Simple sports pleasures are best

    Andy Amey is the undisputed king of vacation columns in the Tribune-Star’s annals. I just returned from vacation, and while there were certainly tales to tell, I’m left with fond memories of simple sports pleasures.
    My family and I spent an extended weekend in Kansas City? Why? Why not? Truthfully, it was close, there’s a lot to do there, and we didn’t want the headache and expense of a long-haul vacation. We had a great time.

    July 8, 2014

  • SPT 030914 ODUM FILE.jpg Steady success: ISU continued to climb ladder with one of its best overall seasons ever

    First of all, if you’re an Indiana State fan, stand up and applaud. The Sycamores collectively went where only one Sycamore athletic department went before in 2013-14. ISU finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy standings. ISU recorded a score of 3.538, its highest in school history.

    June 25, 2014 6 Photos

  • FROM THE PRESS BOX: Appeal of World Cup is communal

    Columnist explains appeal of World Cup.

    June 21, 2014

  • Todd Golden: Indy 500 book is intriguing look into an important era

    Doing the job I do, I get my share of books sent to me at the office. I hate to admit it, but a lot of them cross my eye for a moment, and like anyone else, if the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I don’t open it.

    June 13, 2014

  • SPT 053114 MITCH HANNAHS.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone

    ISU coach Mitch Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Golden: Good times for ISU athletics

    I wish I had a time machine. Would I use it to correct some wrongs in my life or witness some important events in history? Sure, but that’s not what’s on my mind this instant. I’d love to go forward in time to see how the state of Indiana State’s athletic department from the present is perceived in the future.

    May 28, 2014

  • From the Press Box: Indiana lacking killer instinct against Wizards

    After Indiana eeked out a seven-game series win over Atlanta, I opined that I thought the Pacers could only truly declare themselves “back” if they took care of an emerging, but still young, Washington team in six games or less.
    After a rousing Game 4 comeback in Washington on Sunday, it appeared the Pacers were ready to do just that. Leading 3-1 in the series, the Wizards limped into Indianapolis on Tuesday and seemed ripe to be closed out by the invigorated Pacers.

    May 14, 2014

  • Todd Golden: Elite athletes? TH bows to no one

    Maybe instead of a new swimming complex, Terre Haute ought to built itself an ice rink. I mean no disrespect to swimming, but ice hockey is the only sport that Terre Haute can’t unequivocally claim an elite athlete in.

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT 101406 WALTMAN PRACTIC.jpg TODD GOLDEN: Waltman's integrity helped him rise to the top

    When I began to think about former Indiana State coach Royce Waltman — and I’ve thought about him a lot in recent months as the ravages of a stroke and cancer robbed us of his presence — I thought to myself “what can I print?”
    Waltman was many things. Blunt, plain-spoken, unfiltered? All of the above and more. Every Indiana State fan saw Waltman in action … and I had a front row seat for three years right next to him on press row.

    April 8, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • SPT 040514 COACH HANNAHS.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Missouri Valley is tough — ISU making it tougher

    For those who measure the quality of a conference by their place in the Ratings Percentage Index, it was a tough year for the Missouri Valley Conference and its marquee sport: men’s basketball.
    The MVC was 11th in conference RPI and took all manner of criticism when Wichita State ran the MVC table for a perfect 18-0 season. The fingers that pointed at the league for fielding a weak challenge to the Shockers’ dominance were many.

    April 5, 2014 2 Photos

  • TODD GOLDEN: ISU's no-excuses approach for real

    If you were to ask me what the drawback of covering Indiana State baseball is? I’d be hard-pressed to name very much.

    March 29, 2014

  • SPT 030914 ODUM BAKER.jpg 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.

    March 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT 030814 ODUM GRAB.jpg 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.

    March 9, 2014 2 Photos 2 Stories

  • MBBMock_packagephoto.jpg From The Press Box: The nuts and bolts of compiling a Mock Selection for the NCAA Tournament

    Before March Madness comes the March mystery of the run-up to Selection Sunday.

    February 17, 2014 3 Photos 1 Link

  • SPT 020514 ISU FANS STAND.jpg From the Press Box: Loss couldn’t ruin great day for ISU, Terre Haute

    When I write, and when I can, I like to give myself a bit of time to soak in what I’m going to write about. After Indiana State’s 65-58 loss to No. 4 Wichita State on Wednesday, I went home, had a bite to eat and pondered what I thought the night was all about.
    I knew ISU’s disappointment cut deep. Really deep. A cruel reality of sports is that losses linger on in the memory with greater resonance than wins often do. Given the shots that rattled out, fell short and missed the mark in the final five minutes, this is a defeat that will, sadly, dog the Sycamores tonight, tomorrow and 20 years from now.

    February 6, 2014 2 Photos

  • FROM THE PRESS BOX: Little to lose, a lot to gain for Indiana State

    It’s hard not to get excited about today’s Missouri Valley Conference summit meeting between co-leaders Indiana State and Wichita State. Who wouldn’t be?

    January 17, 2014

  • From the Press Box: I’ve seen the enemy … and it’s the double bonus

    I’ve seen the enemy.
    I’ve seen it turn the game of basketball from one of exciting flow into a nonstop parade of tedium. I’ve seen it morph hundreds of what would-be thrilling, last-minute, end-to-end conclusions into foul shooting exhibitions that suck the life out of a gym or arena near you.
    It’s the double bonus. It’s a scourge, one that is often overlooked when ideas on how to make the game more entertaining or to speed the game up are put forth.

    January 3, 2014

  • tsgolden From The Press Box: If ISU figures out defense, look out

    The Great Alaska Shootout is not going to provide the Great RPI Bump that Indiana State’s participation in last year’s Diamond Head Classic provided.

    December 1, 2013 1 Photo

  • From the Press Box: Damage is done for ISU football

    As a parent and a professional, there’s a bit of advice I’ve tried to pass along that I’ve found to be true.
    No matter what you happen to be doing — whether it be job performance or just your own personal behavior — you can do the right thing for a period of time, even the vast majority of the time, but all it takes is one slip and the goodwill you’ve built up can be gone in one fell swoop.

    November 24, 2013

  • TODD GOLDEN: Munn, Odum want to make paper accomplishment a real one

    When it comes to Missouri Valley Conference Media Day, it has historically been a kick in the gut for Indiana State's basketball teams.
    But not this year. For the first time since formal MVC preseason polls began in the mid-1980s, the Sycamores rule the MVC roost.

    October 31, 2013

  • tsgolden TODD GOLDEN: Colts fans paid Manning ultimate tribute

    Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis was many things — the return of a beloved prodigal son, a battle of Colts’ No. 1-draft-pick quarterbacks and last, but not least, the visit from one of the AFC’s last reminaing undefeated teams — but most of all, it could have been a battle for the Colts’ fans soul.

    October 21, 2013 1 Photo

  • From The Press Box: ISU in top 2 of top-heavy MVC

    Change doesn’t often come to Missouri Valley Conference basketball. Until this season, it had endured with the same 10 members since the mid-1990s. But the reality of conference realignment finally hit the MVC where it lived last spring as Creighton departed for the new Big East Conference. The MVC responded by adding Loyola University.

    October 13, 2013

  • USDvISfb-84468.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sycamores shocked by 1-5 start to season

    It was a play that not only symbolized Indiana State’s 17-14 loss at South Dakota on Saturday, but perhaps the Sycamores’ entire season.
    Down three with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, ISU faced third-and-9 from its own 39. ISU ran Shakir Bell to the left and the senior standout had daylight.

    October 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • SPT 091513 GRIMES PICK.jpg From The Press Box: An avoidable loss

    It couldn’t last forever.

    September 15, 2013 3 Photos

  • From The Press Box: Colts dodge bullets ... it's what they do

    Just a few minutes into the second quarter, it seemed Colts fans could kick back and enjoy a Sunday on Easy Street.

    September 9, 2013

  • SPT 090713 SANFORD HAZELL.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Indiana State proves plenty in 20-14 loss at Purdue

    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.

    September 8, 2013 4 Photos

  • From the Press Box: Stipends? No. Off-field income? Oh yeah, bring it on

    The war flags have been raised. The trumpets have sounded.
    With the Johnny Manziel autograph hullabaloo and the ongoing Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA for using his likeness as background, many have rallied to the battle standard of stipends as a means of compensating NCAA athletes who are allegedly being exploited for income by their universities.
    This rally cry has a particular resonance among those in my profession, many of whom dislike the current system, and who detest the NCAA with a virulent passion.

    August 15, 2013

  • TODD GOLDEN: Golf ... the beast within?

    Like many sports fans, my interest in professional golf is confined to the four major tournaments. Many prefer the Masters, some like the back-to-roots British Open, but I’ve always liked the U.S. Open the best.

    June 16, 2013

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Harding Love Letters Now Open to Public Wisc. Twins Celebrate a Century of Laughter
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010