ST. LOUIS —
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 No. 10 Loyola.
“This week was huge. We got a little complacent once we got that second seed. It’s bad to say, especially with me as a leader, that I allowed that to happen, but I think we’re rejuvenated. I think we have a little extra kick to us now,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.
Not only rejuvenated, but feisty too.
“To me, time is coming to an end. You have to leave your legacy and how you want to finish out. I don’t want to finish out a loser,” Odum said. “We lost three games in a row. We lost the last one at home. I take that one to heart. It’s hard to leave on a losing note and I don’t want to lose. I’m going to do whatever I can to make this team successful.”
Odum wants the Sycamores to live up to their No. 2-seeding and go beyond it. Though the one-game-at-a-time mantra is drummed, Odum had the Missouri Valley Conference big dogs — Wichita State — in mind as well.
“We’re a little inspired right now. We’re tired of hearing about Wichita State. They’ve been really successful, and they need all of the credit they’ve been getting, but we feel this is just as much their conference as it is ours,” said Odum, before reverting back to ISU’s next game. “I’m looking forward to being successful tomorrow and moving on from there. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
Until late Thursday, ISU didn’t know who its opponent was to be. It’s the first time since 2000, and only the second time ever, that the Sycamores were in this position.
To prepare for one team or another, ISU goes into the same preparation mode as it might for a multi-team exempt tournament. Scouting duties are handled by assistant coaches Lou Gudino (Bradley) and Dave Ragland (Loyola).
“The scouting reports will be ready as soon as we know who it is. They get as much time as we do to prepare,” said ISU coach Greg Lansing, who said the team’s focus was on shooting practice inside Scottrade Center followed by a formal practice at Harris-Stowe College.
ISU swept both Bradley and Loyola this season, but neither sweep was easy. ISU just edged past Loyola in Chicago on Jan. 22 in a 65-61 win and slipped past Bradley on Jan. 11 at Hulman Center 62-59.
Lansing isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We’re fortunate enough to sweep both teams. You always worry about that. I’ve been part of a lot of tournaments where that kind of thing can get turned around real quick,” Lansing said.
Lansing credited Loyola with some of ISU’s February zone problems. The Ramblers used it in the game at Gentile Center and the Sycamores have seen it ever since.
Loyola defeated Bradley 74-72 late Thursday in dramatic fashion. Loyola's Milton Doyle drained a 35-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to stun the Braves. Doyle had 19 to lead the Ramblers (10-21, 4-14) while Terre Haute's Matt O'Leary played 26 minutes in the game and had five points. Bradley's Tyshon Pickett led the Braves with 25 points.
ISU has lost three in a row, but the Sycamores are trying not to focus on that.
“The outside is talking about the three games we lost, but in our mind, I don’t think those three games have a huge effect on where we sit today. That’s behind us and we focus what’s ahead of us,” ISU swingman Manny Arop said.
No matter the opponent, the goal for ISU is to win three games in three days. Only two Sycamores — Odum and Lucas Eitel — are left from the 2011 MVC Tournament champions. Lansing himself has been through it too. Not only as the Sycamores’ head coach in 2011, but also with Iowa when it won four in four days in the 2002 Big Ten Tournament.
“You have to take advantage and compete on every possession. You can’t let things slip by and you have to have an incredible sense of urgency. I know how to win in these tournament, the staff knows, but you can’t talk about winning Sunday until you win Friday,” Lansing said.
Lansing said that all players will be available. Devonte Brown, who was in the car when Brenton Scott was arrested last Saturday, will not be punished by the team. Brown was not charged with anything, not accused of anything in the police report, and was cooperative at the time.
Scott and Etherington were not with the team, but redshirted players do not usually travel to the conference tournament.
• Gant, Eitel earn academic honors — ISU junior forward Justin Gant was named to the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete First Team. ISU senior guard Lucas Eitel was named to the Second Team.
Gant carries a 3.50 grade point average as a criminology major. Eitel has a 3.49 GPA as an education major.
• Marshall is MVC Coach of the Year again — Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall won his third consecutive MVC Coach of the Year honor.
Marshall garnered 39 of the 40 available first-place votes. He became the second coach in MVC history to win the honor three straight times. Drake’s Maury John did it from 1968-70.
Lansing finished fifth in the voting. He had six second-place and five third-place votes. Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson was second, Missouri State’s Paul Lusk was third, Illinois State’s Dan Muller was fourth.
ISU to play Loyola at 7 p.m. Friday
ST. LOUIS —
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
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