WEST LAFAYETTE —
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.
No one ever wants to admit to a moral victory, least of all, coaches and players who go through the pain of a tough defeat. They aren’t in the mood to be soothed by the idea that though they fell short, they still gave it their all.
“We didn’t win, we fell short, we ran out of time, and we didn’t make enough plays, but I’m very proud of our team. Our goal was to be the most improved team in the country from Week 1 to Week 2. In a lot of ways, we did that,” ISU coach Mike Sanford said.
I won’t watch every college football game this weekend, but I think I’m on solid ground when I say that ISU comfortably accomplished Sanford’s mission.
After looking abject against the Hoosiers in the now infamous 73-35 loss on Aug. 29, the Sycamores swung 180 degrees and looked like a legitimate Missouri Valley Football Conference contender against Purdue.
Hyperbole? I don’t think so. Yes Purdue isn’t very good by Big Ten standards and it’s likely to be a long season in West Lafayette.
But Purdue is a lot closer to the norm of what ISU is going to face week-to-week in the MVFC than high-flying Indiana is. The positives seen Saturday were ones that can be projected upon the likes of the Dakota schools and other MVFC contenders.
It really was eye-popping to see ISU go from one extreme to the other. ISU went from seemingly endless question marks to a laundry list of positives.
“We improved a lot. We improved a lot on both offense and defense. I’m happy with a lot of the strides we made even though we wanted to win,” ISU defensive end Connor Underwood said.
Chief among them was ISU’s ability to handle adversity. The Sycamores did so miles better than they did against the Hoosiers. ISU suffered an opening kickoff return for a touchdown, lost their best receiving target (Jamar Brown) on the second series and went through a rough patch where the offensive line struggled, which resulted in quarterback Mike Perish being sacked five times.
“We made it through some adverse situations. Some of those plays killed drives. If we get rid of those drive-killers, I think it shows we have a lot of potential,” Perish said.
But the Sycamores still stayed the course. After some adroit halftime adjustments, the ISU offense was rolling. Of ISU’s 295 yards of total offense, 224 were gained in the second half.
“The positive is we played together really well. Against a team like Purdue, we showed we can compete and we showed we can gain some respect. Next time, we just need to get a victory,” said ISU wide receiver Demory Lawshe, who had one of ISU’s two second half touchdowns.
The biggest thing ISU proved was that it could move the ball without the services of running back Shakir Bell. For the offense to operate without the player who accounted for nearly 50 percent of their gains from scrimmage in 2012 is a wonderful thing.
After being exploited in equal parts via the run and pass against Indiana, ISU’s defense took a significant step forward. Purdue might not be on-task offensively at this stage of the season, but ISU made the Boilermakers that way on Saturday.
Quarterback Rob Henry never got comfortable. Purdue’s running backs broke some runs, but not with any consistency. And the goal line stands by ISU’s defensive line and linebackers? Those are the kind of moments that cement a defense and make it whole.
“We don’t like to take moral victories, but that’s a Big Ten team. They’re a good team, a physical team, but I think our defense showed we can play with anyone in the nation,” ISU safety Mark Sewall said.
The special teams? They still need work, but you can’t have it all. A kick return was given up and a punt was blocked. But the special teams even got better as time went on, evidenced by Jordon Stangler’s perfect coffin corner punt late in the fourth quarter.
Bottom line is that the feeling of unease (dread?) for ISU’s prospects this season that came out of the Indiana game dissipated. Now, ISU can move forward with a sense of purpose, and can also know that they have the ability to make the IU loss an aberration not the norm.
Even if it was all accomplished in the context of defeat.
“This is a journey, it’s not a destination. We’re on the way to making ourselves a great football team. We’re not there yet. We should have won today. If we’re a great football team, we win today,” Sanford said.
Great? No. Better? Without a doubt.
It’s a moral victory. Don’t run away from it. Wear it well.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
WEST LAFAYETTE —
No moral victories?
- Indiana State University
ISU falls one step short at MVC women's semis
ISU's women's basketball team falls 66-58 to Drake in MVC women's tournament semifinals.
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Indiana State’s women’s basketball postseason struggles continued Saturday in The Family Arena, site of the seventh neutral-site version of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
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Indiana State’s baseball team rebounded from a 3-2 setback at the hands of UNC-Wilmington on Friday to sweep a doubleheader Saturday, taking the first game 11-5 and posting a 6-1 win in the nightcap.
Today’s originally scheduled game was moved up to Saturday due to the possibility of strong thunderstorms moving into the Wilmington area.
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The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks scored on a walk-off single in the ninth inning to end Indiana State’s 12-game winning streak in baseball with a 3-2 victory Friday at Brooks Field.
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Marina Laramie led the Sycamores with nine of her 15 points in the second half. The sophomore from nearby O’Fallon, Mo., had six of those points during a 9-2 ISU run after halftime.
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The resolve of the Sycamore post duo was put to the test Friday in the MVC Tournament quarterfinals, and Laramie and Mahan were up to the task.
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Indiana State’s men’s basketball team returned to practice on Friday without a team or a tournament to prepare for.
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With a win today in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament quarterfinals, Indiana State will secure its fourth 20-win season in women’s basketball since 1981-82.
Getting to that point has been like competing in one of those urban adventure races with obstacles, mud pits and scavenger hunts. In other words, it hasn’t been permeated with style and grace. But the Sycamores stuck with it and got the job done.
At least so far.
Abdul-Qaadir named league’s top newcomer
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The transfer from Memphis was eligible right away because she had finished her bachelor’s degree upon arrival in Terre Haute.
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Indiana State seniors Greggmar Swift and Mary Theisen are within striking distance of winning an NCAA title this weekend at the NCAA Division I indoor track and field championships.
Sophomore sprinter Katie Wise is ranked 13th going into the meet in the 60-meter dash and has her sights on an All-American finish.
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Senior guards Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir and Anna Munn have both been named to Missouri Valley Conference All-Conference teams, announced by the league on Wednesday. Abdul-Qaadir earned a spot on the first-team while Munn was named honorable mention.
Metro sports: ‘Lucky Lou’ strikes again on golf course
Retired Public Service Indiana employee Lou Mundell, a lifelong resident of Terre Haute, posted the fifth hole-in-one of his life Tuesday afternoon at the Harder Hall Country Club golf course in his winter home of Sebring.
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Ryan Keaffaber recorded his sixth save in seven opportunities Monday as Indiana State won its 12th straight college baseball game, holding off a rally by visiting Western Illinois for a 7-4 victory on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.
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No one on Indiana State’s men’s basketball needed to say a word about the Sycamores’ 83-69 loss to Wichita State in Sunday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game.
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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.
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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.
Clock problems delay start of Indiana State semifinal game
Time stood still in Scottrade Center on Saturday.
Not by design.
Sycamores advance to Arch Madness title game
No one said advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament championship game was going to be easy.
ISU women grab share of MVC regular-season title
The preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite lived up to its expectations, as the Indiana State women’s basketball team grabbed a piece of the regular-season title with an 85-72 triumph over host Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon inside McLeod Center.
ISU headed to MVC title game
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Ramblin’ On: Sycamores use defensive stops to reach Missouri Valley semifinals
It sounds counter-intuitive, but to go forward in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament you must first get stops. In Friday’s MVC Tournament quarterfinal against Loyola, ISU followed that bit of zen to a tee. The Sycamores never let the Ramblers get comfortable offensively and put a hammer-lock on Loyola standout Milton Doyle. ISU rode its defense to an easy 75-62 victory at Scottrade Center.
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
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A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
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.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- ISU falls one step short at MVC women's semis