TERRE HAUTE —
Travecia Franklin is not only an Indiana State women’s college basketball player, she’s a big-time fan of college basketball of either gender. If there’s a big-time men’s game on TV, she’s watching, admiring the players and studying the game for things that will help her succeed.
Playing on the home floor that the IU women share with the No. 1-ranked Indiana Hoosiers’ men’s team is a big deal to her.
“I think it’s a great opportunity. Their guys are ranked No. 1 in the nation, they’ve got a lot of attention on IU right now. It’d be great for us to go in there and hopefully get a W.
“I love to watch college basketball. Besides, Indiana State, I like Ohio State,” said Franklin, a native of Columbus, Oiho. “I’m not really big on IU, I go to Indiana State, so I got that out of my blood when I first got here.”
Franklin, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, looks forward to playing an important role for the Sycamores after appearing sparsely as a freshman.
That process began during the summer as Moren and her new staff evaluated the players in individual workouts.
“One of the things that happened was I tried not to give any of the new staff any preconceived notions about any of the players,” ISU coach Teri Moren said. “She was the one that stood out the most to Riede [Sara Riedeman] and Joey [Wells] and John [Marcum] as far as her focus and the way she approached individual workouts.”
Wells was among the new Sycamore coaches to be impressed by Franklin’s industrious approach to offseason workouts.
“She’s one of those freshman going into her sophomore year that didn’t get a lot of playing time but she learned a lot. She’s definitely improved her game from last year. She’ll be one of those players with an opportunity that this is really going to help,” Wells said.
Wells is referring to ISU’s new defensive scheme.
In an interview prior to Wednesday’s film session, Franklin rattled off the Sycamores’ different defenses and when they’re best used.
She’s an important assett for head coach Teri Moren as a reserve who can cause problems for opponents perimeter players. Franklin and freshman Kasey Johnson played a big part in holding Eastern Illinois standout Ta’Kenya Nixon to a rough night in ISU’s dominant victory to start the season.
“Our transition defense is one of the big keys for our defense because the 2 [guard], which is me and Kasey, that’s our position, we have to stop the ball. We got beat a lot last year. We’d rather have them dribble the ball instead of pass ahead and get quick layups,” Franklin said. “Defensively, we stop the ball, in the passing lanes, aggressive, aggressive, aggressive.”
ISU coach Teri Moren is thrilled to have Franklin playing well as the Sycamores go for their first road win of the season.
Franklin, a former high school point guard, has hit 6-of-7 from the field so far with three assists and three steals in 37 minutes on the floor.
“She’s not been one-dimensional for us,” Moren said. “Now, you’re seeing Travecia rise to the occasion of having some leadership qualities in practice. She’s more vocal, I think she’s more confident. I think the best thing that happened for Vecie on Monday night when she knocked down some outside shots.
“She has the ability to be able to be disruptive, and get up in people because of her length and her quickness. She’s certainly been a bright spot to bring off the bench.”
Franklin is not the only young player maturing after an adversity-filled freshman year; Moren has gotten outstanding play from sophomore Jessica Valley as well.
“I think that summer between the freshman and osphomore year, they mature. I think that they grow up,” Moren said. “The focus when they return is different. They know what to expect. They know the shortcomings in their game, so they spend time in the summer working on those. But, the one word I can use to describe Vecie best is her focus has grown so much. She knew what was in store for her.”
The Sycamores (2-0) and Hoosiers (1-1) are beginning a four-year series tonight in Assembly Hall that will rotate back-and-forth from Bloomington to Terre Haute each year. It’s ISU’s first game in Assembly Hall since 1991.
Indiana is under the direction of first-year coach Curt Miller, who compiled a 258-92 record in 11 years at Bowling Green.
He inherits an IU team that went 6-24 last season.
“We’re looking forward to it. It’s difficult to get Big Ten schools on the schedule,” Moren said. “For us to get a Big Ten team on the schedule is big. It’s a big opportunity. It’s a good thing for the state of Indiana. It will be a great challenge for our kids just from the pure standpoint that it’s a Big Ten team. They’re big, they’re really big as most Big Ten teams are.”
Indiana has lost on the road to Valparaiso and came from behind to win at Murray State. Moren empathizes with the growing pains of building a program to fit one’s coaching style.
“Their system will be a little bit different than what they’ve looked like in the past. Curt did a great job at Bowling Green when he was there. He believes in the high ball-screen offense and he’s going to stick with it, and you have to have a certain type of basketball player to do that. You can have athletes but you have to have players that have a high basketball IQ.”
Moren has a situation where she can now put most of her own recruits on the floor.
“It’s kind of like us, you’re not just building to win games, you’re building to build a program. We’re in the process of doing that. We want to win games, but the big picture for us is building a winning program,” Moren said. “I think [Miller] would probably echo that same thing. Anytime you take over, you’ve got kids you walk into. I’m not speaking for him — I’m just speculating — but I know how it was for me.”
Moren also knows that Indiana State will have to maintain a similar recipe for success tonight at Bloomington, one that includes a stingy defense and quality rebounding.
“Our challenge is going to be defending away from Hulman Center without our crowd behind us and being able to rebound the ball because they are way bigger than we are. That doesn’t mean they’re quicker and can get off the floor faster than us it just means we’ll have to establish ourselves on the inside of those big kids and get rebounding position,” Moren said.