TERRE HAUTE —
Taking — and then making — free throws have been important in basketball from the beginning, regardless of changes in offensive philosophy or rules. But when the NCAA mandated that officials consistently call contact fouls, everyone in the game knew that making free throws would take on even greater importance than usual this season.
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team got the message.
The Sycamores have averaged 86.7 points per game so far in their 2-1 start and a big reason for it is their prowess at the line.
ISU has made 86.4 percent of its foul shots. ISU has scored 57 of its 260 points at the line, good for 21.9 percent of the Sycamores’ production.
ISU has gone to the line an average of 22 times per game.
“That’s one of the things the coaches focused on the most with the changes in rules with fouling. We knew we’d get to the line a lot and we know you have to make them late to win games. [ISU coach Greg Lansing] challenged us to raise our percentage. He wanted us to get 30 minutes in a day,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.
Odum has been most productive of all at the line. He’s made 27 of 29 attempts, averaging nearly 10 points per game at the line alone in ISU’s first three contests.
Odum (and Lansing) said he didn’t want his percentage “jinxed”, but levity aside, it was an emphasis for both team and for Odum in the offseason.
Odum’s free throw percentage has risen each year he’s played, he converted 77.1 percent last season, but Lansing wanted more for Odum’s senior season.
“He challenged me to get over 80 percent and that was one of my goals over the summer. I’m feeling really confident in my free throws right now. I want the ball in my hands at the end of the game. Shooting a good free throw percentage boosts my confidence and it’s what keeps the ball in my hands,” Odum said.
All teams practice free throws and ISU is no different. Lansing has different ways to work on free throws and also considers them to be a core part of the team’s overall philosophy.
“We do different contests with it. We do different games. We run after missed free throws as a punishment,” Lansing said. “When I worked for coach [Steve] Alford [at Iowa] he said making free throws was toughness. We pride ourselves on toughness. We want to get there and make them pay when we get there.”
• Truman State visits tonight — For the second consecutive season, ISU welcomes Division II Truman State to Hulman Center for a regular season game.
The Bulldogs have been a fixture on ISU’s schedule since Lansing took over in 2010. ISU played an exhibition game against the Bulldogs in 2011 before adding them to the regular season schedule in 2012.
Truman State coach Matt Woodley and Lansing are friends. ISU defeated Truman State 70-57 a year ago as the Bulldogs put up a good fight.
“Matt is a good friend of mine and that’s why we play them. We know his teams will be well-coached and fight us like crazy. They gave us a lot of problems last year. It’s going to be a good prep game for Alaska. We’ll have to play well to beat them,” Lansing said.
Alaska is the Great Alaska Shootout, which the Sycamores will participate in starting next Wednesday. But before ISU travels north, it wants to get better in one of just four appearances on its home floor during nonconference play.
“We have to get better. Some might see this as a Division II game, but you want to take things out the game you can improve on. Last year, we were down 7-0 against these guys. Their offense is tough to guard. They can play,” Odum said.
For Truman State, the game is officially an exhibition. The Bulldogs have played two “exhibitions” against Division I opponents. Truman State lost 89-69 at Southern Mississippi and lost 78-66 at Middle Tennessee State.
Forward Mike Carlson (16 ppg) is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer.
Truman State at ISU
Tipoff — 7 p.m. today at Hulman Center.
Broadcasts — Radio: WIBQ-FM (98.5). Twitter: @TribStarTodd.
Last time out — ISU defeated Notre Dame 73-60 on Sunday. Truman State defeated Central Christian 86-47 on Nov. 11.
Series — ISU is 1-0. The Sycamores won 70-57 last season.
Indiana State Sycamores (2-1) — G Jake Odum (6-4, Sr., 16.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 5.3 rpg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Sr., 13.3), G-F Manny Arop (6-6, Sr., 12 ppg); F Justin Gant (6-8, Jr., 10 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and F Demetrius Moore (6-7, Jr., 4.7), are possible starters. G Khristian Smith (6-6, So.., 15 ppg, 4 rpg), G Devonte Brown (6-3, So.., 7 ppg), C Jake Kitchell (6-10, Sr., 7 ppg), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, Sr., 2.7), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, So., 2.3) and F T.J. Bell (6-8, Fr., 0.7) are key reserves.
Coach — Greg Lansing (58-45 at ISU, 4th year).
Truman State Bulldogs (2-0) — F Mike Carlson (6-9, Sr., 16 ppg, 7 rpg), G Reed Mells (5-11, Jr.,13 ppg), G Kyle Kanaskie (5-11, Fr., 9.5), C Marek Bush (6-6, Sr., 6 ppg) and G Cody Myers (6-3, So., 5 ppg) are the possible starters. G Isaac Gardner (6-4, Sr., 11.5), G Andrew Vander Zwaag (6-3, So., 8.5), G Seth Jackson (6-3, Jr., 7 ppg), G Dominic Kacich (6-3, Jr., 5 ppg), F Billy Daniel (6-6, Fr., 3.5) and C Patrick Burmester (6-9, Jr., 2.5) are key reserves.
Coach — Matt Woodley (20-37, 3rd season at Truman State).
Injuries and absences — For ISU, C Mike Samuels (foot) is out.
Next games — ISU plays Tulsa at the Great Alaska Shootout next Wednesday. Truman State plays Cameron (Okla.) at the Drury Tournament next Friday.
— Todd Golden