From the time he stepped foot on Indiana State’s campus in 2005, it hasn’t been easy for Indiana State senior forward Jay Tunnell.
The tally since Tunnell came to ISU as a highly-touted freshman from Topeka, Kan., is as follows: two coaches, three (at least) knee surgeries, 51 victories, 70 losses, 112 starts, 1,133 points.
ISU has had great moments during Tunnell’s career — a win over Indiana during Tunnell’s freshman year and his own 8-for-9 3-point explosion against Illinois State this season among them — but also a lot of down times. Players have left or been asked to leave, coaches have not been retained, losing streaks have ruined seasons. Very rarely during Tunnell’s career was there ever a medium between great and horrid.
Through it all, Tunnell was the same. Affable, easy to talk to, he’s been an eloquent representative of the basketball team, whether things were good or bad.
So given the turmoil that has sometimes surrounded his career, to be the lone senior on the day ISU finally broke its strange eight-game Senior Day/Night losing streak — ISU defeated Missouri State 69-52 — seemed appropriate. Why not? All kinds of other streaks have begun and ended during Tunnell’s career, why not this one?
Tunnell deserved a good day and he got one. Moreover, he’s arguably the biggest reason ISU is headed to St. Louis on a high note instead of limping down the stretch, having won six of its last seven games. The confidence the Sycamores have has been projected from Tunnell, a kind of positive senior leadership you’d expect from Tunnell, who is almost always positive with his teammates.
“As soon as the game was over and we got the win, it was such a great feeling with the reception that people gave me. It really makes you appreciate them, knowing they they’re giving you the love that you’ve put into basketball for four years here,” Tunnell said.
That love has sometimes been conditional as fans have gone hot and cold with Tunnell.
Hot — to the point of too much, too soon excitement over his high school career — when he arrived as a Kansas Mr. Basketball.
Cold — to the point of being over-the-top — when Tunnell struggled to fulfill inflated expectations early in his career, partly due to knee injuries. As early as his sophomore season, I heard Tunnell described as a “bust” by some.
The fans heated up big-time again when Tunnell averaged 20.1 points in the last seven games of his final regular season. Tunnell is the first player I covered who went from verbal commitment to the end of the line. I’ll admit, I’ve privately recoiled and even felt personally responsible every time I’ve heard “bust” talk.
Why? Sometimes media coverage puts players on too high of a pedestal in the court of public opinion. The expectations fans put on players coming out of high school is always unrealistic and the media — including yours truly — play a role in fanning it by playing up what a player might be based on high school performance, sometimes not trying to find out what they might need to work on.
It’s something I’ve learned from over the years as a reporter, to try and not overdo the hype, and it’s a cautionary tale for the R.J. Mahurin’s and Jake Odum’s of the world, who are enjoying the fun side of the coin in the pre-college excitement now.
In the end, it doesn’t matter. Tunnell doesn’t have a career he needs to apologize for. He’s 24th on the all-time scoring list ... he’s been a four-year mainstay.
“We haven’t exactly had the greatest times and success. I’ve given it everything I’ve had and I’ve tried to work through things. The fans who have been here for the thick and the thin for all four years, the wins and the losses, I think they know that,” Tunnell said.
Tunnell has been a good teammate and very coachable. He’s always been attentive in practice, often asking both former coach Royce Waltman and current coach Kevin McKenna questions to make sure what’s been run is run right. He’s always encouraging (rarely, if ever, discouraging) his teammates.
“I’m really happy for Jay that he went out on a positive note,” McKenna said. “He’s been a good representative of our school, he’s going to graduate in May. We have good feelings for Jay and I think Jay has good feelings for Indiana State. It’s been a good situation, especially recently, when Jay has played very well and the team has played very well in addition to that.”
Tunnell got a good final day in the Hulman Center spotlight. He deserved it.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (800) 783-8742 or email@example.com. Please check out Golden’s blog at blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley.
From the time he stepped foot on Indiana State’s campus in 2005, it hasn’t been easy for Indiana State senior forward Jay Tunnell.
Wichita State shuts out ISU to force elimination-game rematch
Indiana State starting pitcher Greg Kuhlman did his best.
Actually, he did far better than he ever has previously in an ISU uniform, but while Kuhlman’s gutty pitching effort spoke volumes, ISU’s bats remained ominously silent.
Indiana State baseball now one win from MVC Championship
Indiana State’s Wednesday morning wish list probably read something like this: a dominant complete game effort from starting pitcher Devin Moore, near-immaculate defense to support him, and a steady diet of clutch situational hitting from lineup spots one to nine.
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Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
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On the heels of their thrilling double victory at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships both the Indiana State men and women moved up in the national rankings which were released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
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Think of every championship that Indiana State has won in each of its sports, past and present. Think of every tournament — postseason or regular season — which the Sycamores have claimed as their own.
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ISU couldn’t do it.
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First came the public announcement that Bob Warn Field would host the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Later, Sean Manaea’s availability to pitch ISU’s series opener against Bradley was in doubt.
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The St. Mary-of-the-Woods softball team finished seventh in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association softball tournament on Tuesday at Firestone Stadium.
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ISU baseball team builds on success with 14-2 rout
Indiana State’s baseball victory over Alcorn State on Friday would take on more meaning Saturday if the Sycamores could build momentum and pick up on the good work they did in Friday’s ninth-inning rally.
The Sycamores were aggressive from the opening inning at the plate and starting pitcher Devin Moore gave them eight valuable and effective innings on the mound as ISU defeated Alcorn State 14-2 at Bob Warn Field.
“It was a really good experience for everybody. It felt great to finally come out here and put some things together. It’s also really nice when your offense puts a lot of runs on the board,” Moore said.
Moore’s eight innings of work were as valuable as gold to an ISU team that is short on quality arms due to injury and ineffectiveness. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and one of the two runs he conceded was unearned.
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ISU earns badly-needed win
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ISU’s Mascari and Hope win MVC track & field titles
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ISU pole vault tradition continues with help from its author
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To catapult oneself about 14 feet into the air with a large $500 fiberglass pole on a daily basis is a risky endeavor.
“We have to be fearless. You can’t be afraid at all,” said Hope, who has also catapulted herself into the NCAA’s elite in the event, ranking 15th in the NCAA with her leap of 13-feet, 9 1/4.
Sycamores searching for answers after seventh loss in eight games
These are the bad times for the Indiana State baseball team.
The will is there for the Sycamores to pull out of their worst slump of the season, but the results are not. The suffering continued on Wednesday at Bob Warn Field as Eastern Illinois defeated ISU 5-3.
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The Indiana State men’s track team has won the last two Missouri Valley Conference outdoor championships, but the women have not stood on the top podium since 1999.
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Eastern Kentucky girls golf coach Mike Whitson, an alumnus of his employer, enjoyed his stay in Terre Haute as coach of Indiana State, where he started the women’s golf program.
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Rose-Hulman has won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men’s all-sports trophy for the fifth time in the past six year, the league announced Monday.
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Mother Nature has been the bane of the Indiana State baseball team’s existence all season. Eight games wiped due to weather are a testament to that. So it was no surprise, though no less disappointing, when she didn’t deal Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea the greatest hand on Saturday as he tries to recover from a hip injury.
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Lansing looking for more home games for next fall
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is looking for a few good games.
Home games that is.
The Sycamores have filled in most of the blanks in their nonconference schedule, but as ever, ISU coach Greg Lansing would like to visit the friendly confines of Hulman Center a bit more often.
Secret weapon: Kelsey Rosselli finishing Woods career with a bang
At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, reporting game results to the Tribune-Star after a win or a loss is not always a high priority.
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In fact, her efforts almost seem like a government secret.
Rosselli’s name might sound familiar to longtime Terre Haute softball followers because she was a standout for North High School, from where she graduated in 2009.
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Baseball is a rhythm game. With contests every day or five times a week in the case of many college programs, you have the chance to build on success or wallow in a slump.
Mother Nature took that rhythm away from Indiana State’s team last week. After a 7-1 loss to Indiana on April 24, ISU was supposed to play a three-game series at Tennessee-Martin, but it was wiped out by rain.
So the rhythm was disturbed, but perhaps that wasn’t a bad thing.
ISU was in a five-game losing streak before its unintended vacation and the Sycamores made a move in the right direction Wednesday with a 7-0 win over DePauw at Bob Warn Field.
“It was a disappointing weekend. We went all the way down to Tennessee and didn’t get to play. We sat around in the hotel room. We came here and it was still raining. It was nice to get out and see some live pitching,” ISU center fielder Landon Curry said.
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- Wichita State shuts out ISU to force elimination-game rematch