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December 31, 2011

Indiana State men can’t let Drake loss ‘linger’

Sycamores play host to Bradley today

TERRE HAUTE — One can look at Indiana State’s emphatic 79-64 loss at Drake on Wednesday, and how the Sycamores should move forward from it, in two different ways.

One way is to claim its just one loss in an 18-game marathon. Bad things happen to Missouri Valley Conference teams on the road. Anybody can win conference games, especially on their home floor. And so forth.

The other way is to look at lessons the Bulldogs not-so-gently put to the Sycamores on Wednesday — Drake shot 56.7 percent from the field — and hope that it doesn’t become a trend.

“The first thing my dad said to me when I walked out of the locker room [on Wednesday] was that it was just one game, but you can’t let it linger,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.

“You have to learn a lesson on how you played and what you did wrong. The fact of the matter is that you can’t let a team penetrate and shoot that high of a percentage. You have to fight harder, be tougher and compete. We’ve done that in the past, so we know we can do it,” Lansing added.

Lansing also eluded to another lesson the Sycamores might have possibly learned.

“I think we’ve been guilty throughout the year, other than maybe the Vandy game, of being like, ‘We’re a good team. We’re going to show up and we’re going to play well and it’s going to just happen.’ Well, it doesn’t just happen, you have to do it on a day-to-day basis,” Lansing said.

With Drake scoring seemingly at will against the Sycamores, the emphasis was obviously on defense in the two practices ISU has had since the loss.

It was surprising that defense was what let the Sycamores down given that they had played excellent defense in the two previous games before conference play. ISU held Vanderbilt without a field goal for the last 6 minutes, 32 seconds in a 61-55 victory on Dec. 17 and held Louisiana-Monroe to the lowest opponent point total in the shot clock era in a 50-35 victory on Dec. 21.

Given how much ISU puts into defense, did it hurt ISU’s pride that Drake exploited it?

“Drake’s a good team, they’re much improved from last year. They made shots and we didn’t. They made effort plays and we didn’t. They did everything necessary to win a basketball game,” ISU forward Carl Richard said.

ISU (9-3, 0-1) isn’t the only team coming off a difficult loss. Bradley was drubbed 90-51 by an in-form Wichita State team at Carver Arena on Wednesday. Both teams will be hungry to prove that their Wednesday setbacks were aberrations rather than the norm.

“We got our tail kicked, we really did, and so did they. Coach [Geno] Ford probably feels the same way I do, it’s how you react to adversity. I’d be surprised if we didn’t play well and I’d be surprised if Bradley didn’t come in here and play well. It’ll be two awfully hungry teams,” Lansing said.

Bradley (5-8, 0-1) has a new look this season. For the first time since the 2001-02 season, there’s a new face in the Bradley coaching box as Ford took over for deposed former coach Jim Les.

The Braves possess weapons in much the same manner as Drake did — players who can drive the lane and score. After sitting out the 2011 season with a heart condition, senior Taylor Brown has returned to action with aplomb as he has averaged 15.2 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Walt Lemon Jr. has become a dependable scorer at 12.2 points and guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards, a one-time ISU recruit, contributes 11.4.

Meanwhile, the saga of ISU point guard Jake Odum’s plantar fasciitis is ongoing. Odum is not playing at 100 percent and likely won’t be at full strength for the rest of the season. The grueling MVC schedule does not allow for any rest time, which is the only cure for what ails Odum.

Lansing will continue to have to monitor Odum for the remainder of the season, both in practice and in games, to ensure that Odum will make it to the end of the season.

“He doesn’t have time to rest. We give him a day off, usually the day after a game, but he was so upset with the Drake game that he wanted to practice. He said he needed to do it in practice, so he could it in the games,” Lansing said. “But we need to be smart with him. I’m going to rely on [ISU athletic trainer] Brad Yeargin and when he says he needs to rest, we’ll do it that way.

“It’s an ongoing thing. We’ll deal with it the rest of the year when he can rest and get it healthy, but until then, Jake is not going to be at his absolute best. He’s so tough, he’s just going to deal with it,” Lansing added.

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