News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

March 19, 2014

ISU women's basketball team upbeat getting ready for Marquette

TERRE HAUTE — The disposition of the Indiana State women’s basketball team was upbeat Tuesday as the Sycamores prepare for a WNIT showdown with Marquette on Thursday in Hulman Center.

Two days off after returning from St. Charles, Mo., where top-seeded ISU was upset by fifth-seeded Drake, ISU coach Teri Moren prepared her team to get a postseason victory.

“I haven’t seen them in two days. Here’s the deal: If you’re a basketball player and it’s March and you’re still playing, you better be grateful. You’ve got a screw loose if you’re not excited about the opportunity to extend your season.

“There are a lot of teams out there — men’s and women’s teams — that aren’t playing in postseason play and would give anything to have the opportunity that we have on Thursday.”

ISU is 1-4 in the WNIT after Moren’s squad lost 63-51 at Youngstown State last season.

But Moren has certainly made progress in her four years, elevating from mediocrity in her first two seasons to a 10-8 Missouri Valley win and a WNIT berth in 2012-13. Then on to a regular-season conference title this year.

The next step is postseason success.

This year, they’ll get a chance to play at home against Big East opponent Marquette. The reward could include a trip to Bloomington to avenge a loss to the Hoosiers.

For senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, it’s a chance to extend her collegiate career.

“It’s always great to get to play some more games, especially myself. I’m a senior and didn’t want it to end too early,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “I’m just excited. We’re going to play a team that’s at the next level, and I think we just have to make it a fun game. Don’t worry abut winning or losing, I just think the opportunity is great and we’re going to appreciate it regardless.”

Senior classmate Anna Munn expects to return to the court after suffering an elbow injury in ISU’s loss to Drake. She saw a doctor Tuesday afternoon before practicing in full with the team.

“We’re real optimistic. She was in [Monday] shooting a little bit. She’s still having a little bit of pain, but I think the Thursday game instead of a Wednesday game is a blessing,” Moren said of Munn’s status.

Sophomore Marina Laramie said the Sycamores will be ready to go.

“Right now, I think it’s all about motivation,” Laramie said. “This is for our seniors. We’re going to play as hard as we can and we’re just thankful that we get another chance, especially on our home floor.”

Opportunity also presents itself for ISU’s underclassmen, which includes 6-foot-3 Robinson, Ill., transfer Kelsey Dirks, 6-0 Joyea Marshall and 5-10 guard Cierra Ceazer. Those three will join a talented core of returnees in preparation for life after Abdul-Qaadir and Munn.

Those returning players can look to keep improving together beginning Thursday.

The Sycamores will face a Marquette squad that will have a size advantage on Indiana State. The Golden Eagles rank No. 2 in the nation in rebounding margin with an average of 13 more rebounds than their opponents. The Sycamores led the Missouri Valley in rebounding but rank 71st nationally.

ISU played teams similar in size and athleticism when they played Louisiana State and Northwestern.

“They are big, they’re very similar to LSU as far as size. I just think if we play our game that size isn’t really going to matter. We just have to go in focused and know that we have to play our best game and not be intimidated by them at all,” Laramie said.

Moren thinks ISU’s schedule has helped it prepare for postseason success.

“The LSU, the Northwesterns, even the IUs and Butlers have prepared us for the Big East team we’re going to see Thursday,” Moren said.

Marquette placed one game ahead of Butler for fifth in a new Big East that no longer includes Connecticut, Notre Dame, Louisville and Rutgers. The Sycamores defeated Butler — also a WNIT at-large team — in Hulman Center this season.

Abdul-Qaadir likes her team’s resilience coming off the MVC Tournament loss.

“It’s definitely tough, that game meant a lot more than a regular-season game. But, like I said, the opportunity to play another game and forget about the past. We’re excited about it,” Abdul-Qaadir said. “Hopefully we can make a run in it and extend our season a little longer. However, we’re just going to enjoy practice, enjoy the game. This could be our last one, we have to make the best of it.”

 

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