TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana State men’s basketball team has done some heavy lifting to attain a goal it hadn’t reached in nine years … a winning season.
Now comes the reward … ISU is considering its postseason options. Much has changed since 2001 when college basketball’s postseason was so much simpler.
Back then, there was the NCAA Tournament and the National Invitational Tournament … 96 spots and that was it.
Now, there are 128 postseason spots. For better or worse, there are four collegiate postseason tourneys. In ISU’s case, it’s definitely for the better as it ponders entry into either the NCAA field (a long shot, as it must win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament), the NIT (another long shot as there are MVC teams ahead of ISU in the conference pecking order), the College Basketball Invitational, or the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
The CBI is in its third season, the CIT is in its second. The presence of both tourneys creates a much-greater likelihood that the Sycamores will be playing postseason ball. Every single MVC team with a .500 or better record participated in one of the four tournaments last season. ISU’s RPI is currently in the 80s, so it stands a very good chance of being selected for one of them.
“It’s the next step for our program to play in a postseason game. Whatever tournament it is, we want to be a part of it, we want our guys exposed to that,” ISU coach Kevin McKenna said. “I’ve been in touch with people at the NIT, CBI and CIT. They’ve all contacted us kind of gauging our level of interest. We’ve told them we’re interested.”
The catch? It’s going to cost ISU some money if it wants to host a game.
The NIT is a bid process to host games, but it would likely cost ISU no less than $100,000. The CBI financial guarantee was $60,000 last season. The CIT guarantee last season was $28,500.
“We’re collecting information right now and a lot of it is where we finish this season. We’d love to host, but it would be a financial consideration. There’s a guarantee involved and I’d have to put pencil to paper and see if it would pan out and see if we wouldn’t lose money on the deal. If we can’t host, we’d be very interested in going on the road to play in any of the tournaments,” ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman said.
ISU did host games in the women’s NIT in 2003, 2005 and 2006, but the financial hit was far milder in a much better economic climate. Prettyman said the guarantee was $12,000 when ISU was in the women’s NIT in 2006.
Prettyman said ISU would be glad to listen to donors and/or corporations that might be willing to lend a helping hand to help ISU host a game.
“All of these organizations have made it very clear that a corporation could buy tickets and be part of the guarantee. We’d hope that there might be interest in something like that,” Prettyman said.
A postseason game would not be part of ISU’s season-ticket package, so tickets purchased by season-ticket holders would also go towards any guarantee.
n Student support? — I’ve mentioned it in my Down In The Valley live blogs for the last two home games, but it bears repeating ... student support at ISU’s recent men’s games has been downright awful.
The students are seated along the baselines of both baskets and there were plenty of chairs available at last Saturday’s game against Drake and Tuesday’s game against Bradley. At no point was this dearth of support more obvious than when a group of students waved empty chairs behind the basket when Bradley was at the line late in Tuesday’s 75-69 ISU overtime victory. If there were more than 150 students at Tuesday’s game, I’d be shocked.
Unless there’s a lifer at ISU on the nine-year plan, no undergraduate at ISU has ever experienced a winning men’s basketball season. So when the time comes, there’s fewer students at the game than there probably is at the Ballyhoo on any given night? It’s pathetic.
I don’t know what marketing is being done to draw students. I don’t know what kind of apathy exists on campus. I don’t know what level of grousing there is about how cruddy the placement of student seating is (and it is). I don’t know what the team is doing to generate student support, at the end of the day, I really don’t care, because it’s all tired excuses.
In a day-and-age where you can try and get a million people to become fans of a potato quicker than a million fans for a flavor-of-the-day band on Facebook, there’s no reason why the word can’t be put out on campus that ISU not only has a game, but that the Sycamores are playing well too.
Perhaps students need to be shamed to come to games. Maybe start a Facebook page with a picture of an empty blue Hulman Center chair. I Think This Empty Hulman Center Chair Can Get 1 Million Votes For Having More School Spirit Before ISU’s Students Can ... something like that.
I’d vote for the chair before I ever put any faith in ISU’s students making a consistent effort to be at the games. Maybe one day, they’ll prove me wrong.
n ServPro Fan Appreciation Day — On a related topic, Chad and Natalie Overton are once again buying up Hulman Center for one men’s and one women’s game for ServPro Fan Appreciation Day. For the men, their choice of doing the third annual promotion on Senior Night might prove fortuitous.
ISU plays host to Missouri State on Feb. 27, a game which could very well determine whether the Sycamores avoid the play-in round of the MVC Tournament. It is one of the biggest home games ISU has had in years.
The women’s ServPro Night is next Friday when ISU plays host to Northern Iowa.
Tickets are available during business hours in the Hulman Center ticket office.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Golden’s blog at blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley.
TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana State men’s basketball team has done some heavy lifting to attain a goal it hadn’t reached in nine years … a winning season.
- From the Press Box
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From The Press Box: An avoidable loss
It couldn’t last forever.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13
When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Content McKenna has enjoyed seeing ISU's progress
It all happened so fast in June 2010.
One minute, Kevin McKenna was head coach of the Indiana State men’s basketball program. Then — poof! — he was gone.
McKenna resigned from his head coaching position at ISU on June 13, 2010 to take an assistant coach position on Dana Altman’s then-burgeoning University of Oregon staff.
MVC can't wait on Crieghton to move forward
Will they go or not? That’s been the question that the Missouri Valley Conference and Creighton have been faced with since rumors of the Bluejays’ potential exit went public in December.
FROM THE PRESSBOX: Can Sycamores reverse fortunes heading into MVC Tournament?
Mastery of a basketball season comes in many forms. Mostly, it comes in forms that involve avoidance of turnovers, anemic scoring and poor defense.
The mechanics of X-and-O success in basketball are obvious, but what’s often overlooked in building a successful campaign is managing the rhythm of the season, which is the hardest thing of all.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Accountability isn't Lansing's alone in ISU's recent struggles
Taking ownership has always been one of Indiana State men’s basketball coach Greg Lansing’s strengths.
When ISU has lost games in his three seasons at the helm that it was expected to win, Lansing has always been willing to fall on the sword and take blame for it.
TODD GOLDEN: Indiana State has far more occasions to rise to
Rejoice, Indiana State basketball fans. The Sycamores’ 68-55 victory at No. 15 Wichita State on Tuesday is worthy of celebration.
TODD GOLDEN: Big plays in last 10 minutes story of the season for Indiana State
You’d think I’d have learned by now.
It’s 20 games into Indiana State’s men’s basketball season and I still expect the Sycamores’ offense operate like a well-oiled machine from the opening tip.
Sycamores blossom on Hawaii trip
Quick quiz … what’s the state flower of Hawaii?
Don’t worry. I can’t just rattle state flowers off the top of my head. I had to look it up too, even though I’ve seen them all over the place in Honolulu.
I didn’t even know that Indiana’s state flower is the peony, which replaced the apparently unloved zinnia in the 1950s.
Hawaii’s flower, and they’re ubiquitous in Waikiki tourist shops and in actual flora on Oahu, is the yellow hibiscus.
The yellow hibiscus is big, bold and bright. I’ve never seen one blossom, but I imagine it has to be a beautiful sight.
What I have seen blossom — and it’s the only reason flowers would be brought up in my column — is the Indiana State basketball team at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU needs to have its realignment head on a swivel
Have you ever driven past a cow pasture during a severe thunderstorm? If it’s really bad, the cows will congregate in a herd to protect themselves from the tumult.
TODD GOLDEN: ISU AD Prettyman keeps it close to the vest
Do you want to know who’s on the short list to become Indiana State's next football coach?
TODD GOLDEN: Trent Miles leaves Sycamores with giant legacy
To glean perspective on Trent Miles’ time as Indiana State’s football coach, I went back into the Tribune-Star’s archives to remind myself of what the football program was like when Miles arrived to rebuild it.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Scoreboard watching and the threat matrix for ISU
Indiana State football coach Trent Miles reaffirmed his belief Tuesday that a victory over Youngstown State on Saturday will propel the Sycamores into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the first time since 1984.
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- Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best