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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
WEST LAFAYETTE —
No moral victories?
- Indiana State University
Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court
Winning basketball teams need glue players, the term sometimes used when referring to someone who helps hold it all together.
In some cases, that means getting the ball in the right place at the right time. Or having a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
It’s more often than not coming away with a loose ball on the court. It’s deflecting so many passes that you become the player that most annoys the opponent.
For Indiana State, that’s Natasha Zurek. The junior athletic training major was inserted into the starting lineup for the past two games.
Zurek leads the Sycamores with 16 steals through six games, which isn’t surprising to anyone on the team.
Swift excels for ISU track in EIU Early Bird indoor track meet
The Indiana State men’s track and field team won the Eastern Illinois Early Bird meet by scoring 133 points.
Eastern Illinois placed second with 111 and Illinois State was third with 70.
The Sycamores started off the meet strong with wins in the mile run and 60-meter hurdles.
Freshman David Timlin won the mile, leading from the gun in a time of 4:15.20. In the hurdles, senior Greggmar Swift led a dominating performance by the Sycamores as they took the top four places in the event. Swift won the race in 7.74 seconds.
EIU might come at right time for ISU
Sometimes an opponent lines up just right on the schedule that suits a team’s needs.
That’s true for Indiana State as it travels to play Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. today at Lantz Arena. And it’s not because the Panthers have struggled, even though they have.
Carmel firm’s brace a good fit for Manning
Local entrepreneur Rick Peters is a devoted Indianapolis Colts fan, but he jumped out of his living room recliner on the evening of Nov. 13 when he saw an ESPN report on Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s bad ankle.
ISU’s Underwood named first team All-MVC
Sophomore linebacker/defensive end Connor Underwood was named to the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team on Monday, heading a list of five Indiana State players honored.
Metro sports: ISU women play today at No. 15 LSU
Indiana State’s women finish a three-game road swing by playing nationally ranked LSU at 12:30 p.m. today at Baton Rouge.
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.
Indiana State holds off hot-shooting Pepperdine
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is very much a work in progress defensively. Evidence of that came Saturday when Pepperdine shot 57.8 percent against the Sycamores in the fourth-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
But when it came down to winning time? Pepperdine’s Waves crashed on the rocks of ISU’s defense.
Sycamores outpace Seawolves
Indiana State wanted a better defensive effort in its Great Alaska Shootout consolation semifinal game against host Alaska-Anchorage on Friday, but the Seawolves weren’t going to give the Sycamores an orthodox offense to assess themselves with.
Humbled Sycamores want to make amends
The disappointment undeniably exists, but the bottom line for Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is there’s nothing that can be done about its 63-62 loss to Tulsa late Wednesday night.
But the Sycamores want to remember it. They want to let the bad feeling they had simmer, but turn into something positive.
Uneven Sycamores fall 63-62 to Tulsa
Indiana State loses to Tulsa 63-62 in opening game of Great Alaska Shootout
Tulsa's switching defenses confounded Sycamores
Tulsa paid Indiana State the respect they feel the Sycamores earned with a 3-1 start and a win at Notre Dame on Nov. 17.
So the Golden Hurricane threw multiple defenses at the Sycamores.
On target: Sycamores spreading the wealth with their shooting
Indiana State’s men's basketball team did many things right during the 2012-13 season, but one thing it couldn’t get a handle on was its 3-point shooting. The Sycamores shot 32.1 percent from 3-point range, ranked 252nd in the nation. It was going to take a lot of work to improve ISU’s percentage. So far, hard work has had its own reward.
O’Leary eyes return to Hulman Center
Former Terre Haute North standout Matt O’Leary is hoping to help Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser turn the program into a new chapter of success in a new conference.
ISU wants to take Hawaii spirit to Alaska
Since Greg Lansing took over as Indiana State’s men’s basketball coach, the Sycamores have seen their frequent flier and hotel points skyrocket.
After a decade or so prior in which the Sycamores mostly stayed in the Midwest to play tournaments, if they played them at all, holiday trips to Florida and Hawaii were on the docket during the last two seasons.
Sanford vows to get ISU football back on track
Indiana State football coach Mike Sanford said that the Sycamores’ just-concluded 1-11 season was a learning experience for everyone.
Free throws seal win for ISU women in 20-point comeback
Two free throws by Lashonda Littleton with 1.7 seconds left Sunday enabled visiting Indiana State to overcome a deficit that was 20 points at one time and earn a 68-67 nonconference women’s basketball victory at Marshall.
METRO/PREP ROUNDUP: ISU volleyball barely misses MVC tournament
A 15-13 loss in the decisive fifth set at Southern Illinois late Saturday ended the Indiana State volleyball season one victory short of the Missouri Valley Conference postseason tournament.
ISU puts up fight, but can’t hold off SIU in football
Indiana State’s football team had nothing to play for aside from pride in its finale Saturday against Southern Illinois. The Sycamores also had an injury list that made it difficult to cobble together a starting unit at all.
Given the circumstances, ISU put up a very good fight against the playoff-hopeful Salukis, but the task was too much for the Sycamores as they fell 31-9 at Memorial Stadium.
ISU women play today at Marshall
The Indiana State women’s basketball players put their hands together at the end of practice Thursday, shouting a collective “do work.”
On the heels of a 90-74 loss at Stetson, the Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorites are 2-2 and not content with losing, especially when giving up 90 points.
Weather forced move of start line at NCAA
Indiana State coach John McNichols made the decision early Saturday morning to move the starting line up about 100 meters. The reason was to ensure every team in the NCAA Cross Country Championships would have a fair start. Sticking one team directly in front of a large puddle of standing water and another in front of a relatively dry area would not have provided fair conditions.
ISU defeats Truman
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
In Truman State’s case, you can expect a pretty good showing. Indiana State had some nervous moments against the Bulldogs, but the Sycamores prevailed 80-69 on Friday at Hulman Center.
ISU football closes out season against SIU
Indiana State’s football team had its last practice of the 2013 season Thursday and it had a jovial climax.
Favorites look to win at NCAA cross country championships
Two consensus thoughts prevailed in the hunt for the NCAA cross country individual championships: Kenyan Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech is the heavy favorite to repeat as men’s 10,000-meter champion and Dartmouth senior Abbey D’Agostino, last year’s runner-up, will be tough to stop from winning the women’s 6,000-meter race.
ISU’s Underwood family affected by Illinois tornado
Indiana State defensive end Connor Underwood can be forgiven if football wasn’t the biggest thing on his mind this week as the team prepared for its season finale against Southern Illinois today.
New officiating edict could help ISU's Odum
For ISU, one player immediately comes to mind as far as who might benefit most from the new rules -- senior point guard Jake Odum.
Gant looms large in ISU's 2013-14 improvement
It’s no overstatement that as Justin Gant went in the 2012-13 season, so did the Indiana State’s men’s basketball team.
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John Mascari’s sights set high in NCAA cross country championships
Big John is in the big show for the second straight year.
This time, Terre Haute’s own John Mascari, an Indiana State sophomore, has his sights on an All-American finish Saturday on the course he grew up racing as a prep standout at Terre Haute North.
Mascari was 60th in the NCAA championships as a freshman at Louisville, and after last week’s Great Lakes Region victory, he is confident he can crack the top 40 at LaVern Gibson Championship Course in front of hometown fans.
ISU basketball hopes to continue free-throw accuracy
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.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court