TERRE HAUTE —
The degree of difficulty — and massive size — the Indiana State men’s basketball team faced in its 89-56 loss to No. 13 UCLA Friday will not likely be seen again by the Sycamores this season … unless they make the NCAA Tournament.
But that doesn’t mean the Sycamores can just throw the game away against the Bruins and not absorb the lessons that were taught to them.
Winthrop won’t bring the glitzy tradition, McDonald’s All-Americans and gargantuan front line into Hulman Center for ISU’s home opener tonight that UCLA brought into Pauley Pavilion. But the Sycamores have things they want to fix that would apply to any opponent.
“There’s a lot of room improvement. We had a lot of breakdowns, especially on the defensive end. Our defense has to been constant and it just wasn’t. We’d play 20 to 30 seconds, but then there was a breakdown or foul. The things we knew we had to do as a coaching staff reared its head,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
ISU (0-1) did some good things against the Bruins. Lansing liked the second-half ball movement and ISU stayed in the game through the first half despite some defensive breakdowns that were found on-tape.
“I thought we did a lot of good things. A really good sign was that after a really hard day of travel we really competed hard,” Lansing said. ISU arrived in Los Angeles long after intended after a direct flight stopped in Denver for fuel.
Shooting was the most obvious thing ISU didn’t do well. The Sycamores were a woeful 5 of 26 from 3-point range and were 16 of 26 at the free throw line. Both of those shortcomings were addressed in Monday’s practice as more time than usual was specifically set up for both.
The 3-point shooting hasn’t been there in any of ISU’s games so far. ISU shot 17.6 percent from long range in the exhibition game against Lewis and also struggled against Saint Louis in the closed preseason scrimmage.
However, the Sycamores tend to hit their 3-point attempts in practice. The inability to do so in a game so far is vexing, but is it a problem to worry about throughout the season?
“I think we’re a good shooting team, but we’re not a great shooting team. We don’t have a Jordan Printy or Aaron Carter on the team, but we have guys who can make shots. I thought we passed up some open ones, and I think we were right on-line with some of the ones we missed,” Lansing said.
ISU forward R.J. Mahurin, who was 0-for-4 from long range against UCLA, said that the players have taken notice of the shooting slump and have taken action.
“We all know we can score the ball and shoot the ball. We’re getting good shots, we’re getting open shots, we’re just not knocking them down. We’ve all been coming in on our own to get some shots up. It’s just repetition. The more we shoot, the better we’ll be,” Mahurin said.
Winthrop is coached by Pat Kelsey, a former Xavier and Wake Forest assistant coach. Kelsey comes out of the Skip Prosser family tree of coaching. Mark Prosser, Skip’s son, is an assistant coach. The Eagles’ only game thus far was an 80-48 victory over Division II St. Andrews last Saturday.
So what dictates a successful night for ISU?
“I think if we move the ball as we did in the second half at UCLA, shots will fall. Defensively, we have to not commit avoidable fouls. We have to rebound with five guys. If we do that and finish possessions, we’ll be OK,” Lansing said.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall came to the Shockers from Winthrop. Marshall posted a 108-61 mark at the South Carolina school and turned the Eagles into a perennial NCAA Tournament participant.
Winthrop is one of two Big South Conference teams that will visit Hulman Center this month. High Point comes to Terre Haute on Nov. 25.
Winthrop at ISU
Tipoff — 7 p.m. at Hulman Center
Broadcasts — Radio: WIBQ-FM 98.5. Twitter: @TribStarTodd
Last time out — ISU lost 86-59 at UCLA on Friday. Winthrop defeated St. Andrew’s 80-48 on Saturday.
Series – First meeting.
Indiana State Sycamores (0-1) – G Jake Odum (6-4, Jr., 6 ppg, 5 apg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Jr., 2 ppg, 3 apg), F Manny Arop (6-6, Jr., 10 ppg, 6 rpg), F Jake Kitchell (6-10, So., 2 ppg) and C Justin Gant (6-8, So., 11 ppg, 8 rpg) are possible starters. F R.J. Mahurin (6-8, Jr., 9 ppg), G-F Khristian Smith (6-6, Fr., 11 ppg), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, Jr., 6 ppg), G Devonte Brown (6-3, Fr., 2 ppg), F-C Rhett Smith (6-7, Fr., 0 ppg), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, Fr., 0 ppg) and F T.J. Bell (6-8, Fr., 0 ppg) also could see action.
Coach – Greg Lansing (38-30 at ISU, 3rd year).
Winthrop Eagles (1-0) – G Derrick Henry (6-3, So., 26 ppg, 6 rpg), G Gideon Gamble (6-7, Sr., 12 ppg, 8 rpg), G Andre Smith (5-10, So., 10 ppg), F James Bourne (6-8, So., 6 ppg) and F Larry Brown (6-6, So., 5 ppg, 9 rpg) are possible starters. G Christian Farmer (6-5, Jr., 11 ppg), C Shola Diop (6-9, Sr., 4 ppg, 5 rpg) and C Steve Johnson (6-8, Jr., 3 ppg) also could see action.
Coach – Pat Kelsey (1-0 at Winthrop, 1st year).
Injuries – For ISU, C Mike Samuels (foot) is out.
Next – ISU plays host to Truman State and Winthrop plays host to Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday.