The canary was Evansville and the coal mine was Hulman Center on Wednesday.
When a team as zone defense-aversive as Evansville — it was estimated after ISU’s 59-54 victory that the Purple Aces have employed a zone perhaps three times all season until Wednesday — uses it to keep the Sycamores’ offense from flowing, it’s a sure sign that ISU can expect to see zones from every opponent through to the end of the season.
ISU’s poor 3-point shooting is reason teams in the Missouri Valley Conference are salivating to throw their 2-3s against the Sycamores. ISU is ninth in MVC-only 3-point shooting at 31.3 percent. It’s a long fall from late December, when ISU was one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country.
Opponents are not only daring ISU to shoot over their zones, but it’s having the double-effect of freezing movement from the Sycamores to bust the zone. ISU’s offense was flowing along nicely in a 16-5 start against the Purple Aces, but once the zone was employed, the Sycamores ground to a halt.
Because ISU is a dyed-in-the-wool man-to-man defensive team, the Sycamores don’t practice against zone defenses very often. That changed on Thursday. ISU spent much of practice working on how to break zones.
ISU point guard Jake Odum stressed that it takes “reps” to get used to attacking the zone. There’s other ways and means the Sycamores need to improve at as well.
“I think we have to loosen up a little bit. We play too tentative. We need to get the ball in the middle and take chances a little bit more. We’re a little bit complacent trying to make the right decision instead of making a quick one,” Odum said.
After the Sycamores went to zone school on Thursday, ideas on how to best deal with it were in abundance.
“You want to attack the gap on the second or third reversal. Or at least look off in the gaps and look to a guy to go into the gaps,” ISU guard Devonte Brown said.
“We’ve seen extended 2-3 and packed-in 2-3 zones. When they’re packed in, you have to swing the ball a couple of times and find the open gap. When they’re extended, you have to attack it early,” Odum said.
Lansing added a few more wrinkles.
“You have to move the defense with your eyes and with pass-fakes. You have to manipulate the defense. You have to make two guys guard you, and the biggest thing, is you can’t let it paralyze you. You can’t just catch it and hold it. That’s a zone’s friend. And you can’t just settle for 3’s,” he said.
ISU has been guilty of both of the latter two sins. The limbo ISU’s shooters have been in is the notion that they make just enough 3-point shots to believe their MVC shooting slump will come to an end and the Sycamores will revert to pre-conference form. But the shooting percentages say otherwise.
“You just have to keep working on it. You have to get up enough shots on your own and our guys do that,” Lansing said. “I want our guys to be loose and free on the offensive end and take shots when they’re open. We have good shooters who can make shots.”
Today’s opponent is Missouri State and the Bears (17-10, 7-8) aren’t known for being a zone team either. But ISU (21-6, 12-3) expects to see zone at JQH Arena today.
They also expect to see a Bears team steeled by adversity. Missouri State has been plagued by injuries all season long and head coach Paul Lusk has done a nice job keeping the Bears in contention for a top-half league spot.
Hard-working swingman Keith Pickens recently returned to action. As did freshman center Tyler McCullough. Forward Jarmar Gulley (15.1) provides the scoring punch.
“They’re like their head coach. They’re tough, hard to play against and they’re smart basketball players. Paul’s done an unbelievable job dealing with what they’re dealing with,” Lansing said.
ISU’s fortunes at Missouri State are famously bad. The Sycamores are 5-25 in Springfield, though two of the wins have come since JQH Arena opened during the 2008-09 season.
If ISU wants to keep alive faint hopes of a NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the scenario is simple. It must win all of its remaining games and make it to the MVC Tournament championship game.
In that event, ISU would be 27-7 overall, but even if that were to occur, the Sycamores are considered a significant long shot to get a bid due to a lack of quality wins and a nonconference schedule that turned out to be more sour than anticipated.
ISU at Missouri State
Tipoff — 1 p.m. today at JQH Arena, Springfield, Mo.
Broadcasts — TV: ESPNU. Radio: WIBQ-FM 98.5. Twitter: @TribStarTodd.
Last time out — ISU defeated Evansville 59-54 on Wednesday. Missouri State lost 67-63 at Illinois State on Tuesday.
Series — MSU leads 38-23. ISU won 70-55 at Hulman Center on Jan. 15. MSU is 25-5 all-time against ISU in Springfield.
Indiana State Sycamores (21-6, 12-3) — G Jake Odum (6-4, Sr., 13 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.5 rpg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Sr., 10 ppg), G-F Manny Arop (6-6, Sr., 11.1), F Justin Gant (6-8, Jr., 10.1, 4 rpg) and C Jake Kitchell (6-10, Jr., 3.2) are possible starters. G-F Khristian Smith (6-6, So.., 11.1), G Devonte Brown (6-3, So., 5.1), F Demetrius Moore (6-7, Jr., 3.9), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, Sr., 2.4), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, So., 1.9) and F T.J. Bell (6-8, Fr., 0.8) are key reserves.
Coach — Greg Lansing (77-50 at ISU, 4th year).
Missouri State Bears (17-10, 7-8) — G Dorrian Williams (6-3, So., 5.5), G Austin Ruder (6-3, Fr., 8.7), G-F Ron Mvouika (6-6, Jr., 7.1), F Jarmar Gulley (6-5, Sr., 15.1, 6.2 rpg) and C Christian Kirk (6-8, Jr., 6.1) are the possible starters. F Gavin Thurman (6-7, So., 6 ppg), G-F Keith Pickens (6-4, Sr., 6.2), F Emmanuel Addo (6-8, Sr., 4.6), G Nate Scheer (6-5, Sr., 3.5), C Tyler McCullough (6-11, Fr., 3 ppg) and G Devon Thomas (6-0, Fr., 3 ppg) are key reserves.
Coach — Paul Lusk (44-48, 3rd season at MSU, 46-71, 4th overall).
Injuries and absences — For ISU, C Mike Samuels (foot) is out. G Jake Odum (knees) and G Dawon Cummings (knee) are probable. For Missouri State, G Marcus Marshall (knee) is out.
Next games — ISU plays at Illinois State and Missouri State plays host to Loyola on Wednesday.
— Todd Golden
Zone defense becoming obstacle Sycamores must contend with
The canary was Evansville and the coal mine was Hulman Center on Wednesday.
- Indiana State University
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.
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.
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.
Odum, Smith, Arop recognized by MVC
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum doesn’t play baseball, but he did go 4-for-4 in his Sycamore career.
His 4-for-4 performance came in regards to his All-Missouri Valley Conference selections. Odum has been named to the all-MVC team in each of his four seasons, and for the second time in a year, Odum was named to the MVC’s first team.
Teammate Khristian Smith also received a major individual honor. Smith, a sophomore, earned the MVC’s Sixth Man Award. Senior Manny Arop also was named as an All-MVC honorable-mention selection.
ISU’s Odum earns first-team All-MVC honors
ST. LOUIS —Indiana State guard Jake Odum earned a spot on the 2014 All-Missouri Valley Conference first team, which was announced today as the Sycamores prepare for this week’s MVC men’s basketball tournament.
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.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Senior Day Success
Indiana State shot just 35 percent from the field Sunday in Hulman Center compared with 46 percent for the visiting Bradley women, but that was almost a good thing.
ISU teams sweep titles in indoor track
Indiana State’s track teams swept the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships on Sunday at Northern Iowa, the men leading all the way and the women surviving a three-way battle.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
Red-hot ISU baseball wins eighth straight game
Indiana State broke away from a tight ballgame with four runs in the fifth inning and went on to post their eighth-straight victory of the 2014 campaign with a 10-3 triumph over New Orleans Saturday.
David Stagg (3-0) was the winning pitcher for the Sycamores as he went seven innings. He allowed two runs, scattered nine hits and struck out eight.
ISU men’s track leading in MVC indoor championships
Indiana State’s men’s track and field team took the lead Saturday after the first day of the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships Saturday at Northern Iowa, while the Sycamore women were second.
Seeking their second straight championship, the Sycamore men have 64 points to 37 for Illinois State. Indiana State’s women are just two points behind Southern Illinois, 50-48.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
Mayor Bennett takes students’ questions
Mayor Duke Bennett fielded some tough, thoughtful questions on topics that included potholes, neighborhood safety, abandoned homes and railroads Thursday.
Metro roundup: ISU track ready for MVC indoors
The Indiana State track and field teams will head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, this weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference indoor championships.
The men are defending champions and the women were runners-up a year ago.
Redbirds dominate Sycamores 77-59
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is running out of answers for its recent woes ... and it’s running out of time to fix them. The slumping Sycamores added defensive problems to their offensive slump on Wednesday at Illinois State. The Redbirds made the Sycamores pay dearly for their poor all-around effort out of the gate as the Sycamores fell 77-59.
Metro roundup: Hutson awarded USA Track and Field grant
Terre Haute native and 2016 Olympic hopeful Kylie Hutson was awarded a $7,000 grant from the USA Track and Field Foundation.
Moren praises Jasmine Grier for helping ISU women pull out wins
Indiana State coach Teri Moren has preached to her women’s basketball team that consistent quality results at the defensive end will translate to the offensive end.
For junior Jasmine Grier and the Sycamores, their coach’s message was infallible last weekend.
Sycamores basketball set for Illinois State
It’s no secret that Indiana State’s basketball team hasn’t shot the ball lately. It’s also no secret that tonight’s opponent — Illinois State — uses a 2-3 zone as its base defense and 2-3s have been to the Sycamores as silver bullets are to werewolves.
Even though the Sycamores have struggled to get shots to fall, they’ve also kept teams from making theirs too. Defense has long been the characteristic coach Greg Lansing has wanted his Sycamores to define themselves by, and lately, they’ve been living up to it.
Metro: MVC honors Lockwood, Abdul-Qaadir; national award for A.J.
Indiana State sophomore Taylor Lockwood was named Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday after pitching one of two ISU softball shutouts Sunday and earning Most Valuable Player honors at Tennessee State’s Tiger Classic.
TODD GOLDEN: Relax, guys: Play loose, have fun
What seems like an end can really be a beginning for Indiana State’s men’s basketball team.
A shocker on the road
For one day, at least, the Indiana State women’s basketball team found another scoring option.
ISU baseball wins 6th in a row
Indiana State won the unofficial championship of the Mule City Classic in college baseball on Sunday, shutting out Middle Tennessee State 9-0 to sweep the weekend round robin.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals