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November 17, 2012

ISU’s Brown is his own harshest critic

ISU men’s basketball has home game today with Truman State

TERRE HAUTE — To study the game is to know the game. To study the game is to also know how you fit within the game.

And sometimes, players can be pretty hard on themselves when they do a self-examination. Indiana State guard Devonte Brown is one of those players.

The redshirt freshman loves the nuts and bolts of basketball. An avowed film study guru, Brown is constantly trying to find ways to dissect the game and find out how it ticks.

He also dissects himself. When asked what part of his game he wants to work on, Brown didn’t hold back.

“Every aspect of the game. Rebounding. Making the right pass and the right reads. Knowing where the shooter is. Knowing when to drive it and when to pull it out. It’s a learning experience. I’m still learning how to be a point guard. I have to be almost perfect at those things,” Brown said.

“Almost perfect” was a common theme in Brown’s self-evaluation, but Brown has been a valuable player off the bench during ISU’s 1-1 start.

The Killeen, Texas native has made his presence most felt at the free throw line. Despite playing just 12 minutes a game — ninth on the team — Brown has been to the line 10 times — good for third on the Sycamores.

Brown, however, is 5 of 10 at the line, which feeds into his own-worst-critic modus operandi.

“He’s beating himself up right now, he’s such a tough critic, but he’s our best defender and he’s going to be a good offensive player. He attacks the basket and gets shots for his teammates,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

Brown admits that he’s hard on himself, but more so during practice than during the games.

“You can’t have bad practices at any level. When things happen to me, I’m hard on myself because I know I can do better,” Brown said.

“I know that it’s got to be almost perfect. It isn’t going to be perfect every time, but it needs to be almost perfect. That’s what I think about when I’m out here at practice,” he added.

Brown’s studious approach goes beyond just watching film. Brown said that observation is one of the most valuable tools any player has in their arsenal. He had a chance to observe last year — when he sat out as a redshirt — but the observation never ends, not even when he’s on the floor guarding a teammate in practice.

“You have to watch before you talk. I watch [Jake] Odum. I watch the reads he makes from the sideline. When that opportunity comes for me, and I see that same read, I know where to go to,” Brown said. “Lucas [Eitel] is great at coming off screens. When I’m on the sideline or if I’m guarding him, I’m reading what he’s doing and I can do the same thing.”

Lansing said that he loves Brown’s deconstruction of the game. Lansing said that Brown was one of his favorite on-campus visits because he immediately showed a knack for the nuts-and-bolts of basketball.

“We watched tape together and he was asking questions, he was making comments, he’s a student of the game. He loves basketball. He tries to do that with his teammates too,” Lansing said.

Lansing said that he gets on Brown about his decision-making on the offensive end and that Brown’s confidence is “down”, but Lansing also realizes how valuable Brown can be. And to get better, Brown will have to learn have a shorter memory when it comes to mistakes he will make.

“If he makes a mistake, I don’t have to say much because he’s tough on himself. It disappoints him. We have to get him to the point where if he makes a mistake, he forgets it. He’ll do that,” Lansing said.

Truman State visits Hulman Center — Last year, it was an exhibition game. This year, it counts.

Truman State (0-2) visits Hulman Center at 1 p.m. today. The Division II school was beaten 87-33 in an exhibition game last season.

ISU struggles to schedule home games and Division II opponents have become a regular feature on the Hulman Center yearly docket. The last season in which ISU didn’t play a non-Division I school at home was 2004-05.

“It’s just another chance to play in front of the home fans. It’s a chance for us to prepare. Whether it be UCLA, Winthrop or Truman, it’s about us. We’re working on things we need to do to improve,” Lansing said.

Truman State — based in Kirksville, Mo. — has lost to William Penn and Upper Iowa (one-time coaching stop for ISU baseball coach Rick Heller), but the Bulldogs pushed Division I Southeast Missouri State in an exhibition game before they fell 80-75. Forward Mike Carlson has averaged 23.5 points per game. The game is considered an exhibition for Truman State, but counts for ISU.

ISU guard Dawon Cummings sat out Thursday’s practice with bronchitis, but he is expected to play today.

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