TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is in a nexus between patience and progress.
With seven newcomers on a 12-man roster, the patience part of that nexus is obvious. Both the Sycamores’ players and coaches know full-well that having that percentage of newcomers on the roster means the Sycamores will still be a work-in-progress when they take to the Pauley Pavilion hardwood for Friday’s season-opener against UCLA.
Though ISU had summer practices, a Bahamas trip and preseason practice to gel, team chemistry just doesn’t click on command. It takes time. It takes trial-and-error. It takes a good share of failure before players get it right.. It’s hard. It can be frustrating, but Lansing feels that once the Sycamores work some of their bugs out, they have the talent to have a good season.
“I like them because they’re good people off the court and they’re good people. They have good chemistry off the court. What we’re struggling with is our chemistry and competitiveness on the court right now,” Lansing said.
In terms of minutes, ISU returns just 77.7 minutes per game from its 2011-12 roster — and 31.1 of those minutes were taken up by point guard Jake Odum. The junior has recovered from the plantar fasciitis that dogged him during his sophomore season and the first-team All-MVC preseason selection is the unquestioned cog of the Sycamores.
After that, the experience level drops off considerably. Forward R.J. Mahurin played 16.4 minutes per game in an injury-plagued sophomore campaign.
Mahurin’s a scorer (7.2 per game, but a team-high 18 points per-40 minutes) who will be counted on to help the Sycamores even more in that department this season. Guard Lucas Eitel played 13.3 minutes and will continue to provide depth to the backcourt.
The biggest uptick in minutes will come from ISU’s sophomore big men. When junior college transfer Mike Samuels broke his foot on the Sycamores’ August Bahamas trip (Samuels is likely out for the season), it gave Jake Kitchell and Justin Gant their chance to man the middle. Neither played more than 10 minutes per game last season, but that will change.
Which leaves seven healthy new players … and the heart of ISU’s quest for chemistry.
“Off-the-court, I think we all get along. On-the-court? Some guys are here, some guys are other places. It comes down to us older guys to hold everyone accountable and make sure everyone’s there, focused and ready to go. If everyone’s mentally engaged, that chemistry can come through practice,” Kitchell said.
Not all of ISU’s newbies are created equal. About the only thing ISU’s newcomers have in common is that they’ll make their Sycamore debuts on Friday. After that, given their differing levels of experience, the similarities end.
Swingman Manny Arop has Division I experience at Gonzaga and is an athletic talent who can shoot and is expected to produce immediately. Then there’s ISU’s two redshirt freshmen — point guard Devonte Brown and shooting guard Brandon Burnett. Both have had a year’s worth of time to absorb Lansing’s system.
Khristian Smith was also around for the entirety of the 2011-12 season, but couldn’t practice due to academic ineligibility. The freshman swingman might be ISU’s most gifted player of all.
Equally comfortable shooting or slashing to the basket, Smith is also learning to improve his defense. Junior college transfer Dawon Cummings has shown flashes of offensive and defensive prowess and is also expected to help immediately.
Finally, there’s true freshmen Rhett Smith and T.J. Bell. Both are forwards and both could be pressed into service given the injury-depleted frontcourt.
The different stage each player is at adds an element of difficulty to building chemistry. Lansing admitted that he detests “repeating himself” in practice. But also realizes that patience is virtue he and the coaching staff must show in the early stages of the season.
“It really is a process and it requires us all to be patient. We had Jake Odum play heavy minutes last year and no one else really did. We have a lot of inexperience. Guys are searching their way, finding their way, trying to find out what their roles are. They have to be able to trust each other. We have to hold each other accountable and trust each other on the court,” Lansing said.
Patience requires dealing with the adversity that patience requires. It’s inevitable that players are going to mess up. What you don’t want is for the mistakes to devolve into habits that can deep-six confidence and turn the season in the wrong direction.
“When things are going well, it’s easy to support each other. When things aren’t going well? Guys start worrying about their own selves. Then the communication level goes down. These guys aren’t selfish guys, they’re good guys, but on the court, they can be a little selfish,” Lansing said.
“That just means they’re worrying about how they’re doing too much. We’re suffering from that too much, but we’ll get out of it. They work hard and they listen,” he added.
Veteran leadership usually helps to smooth these issues out. ISU’s two Jake’s — Odum and Kitchell — have emerged as leaders.
“I think what the younger guys need to do is to listen well and get it right the first time. If they don’t have it, ask a question or slow things down a bit. That’s better than just going through it, messing it up, and then having coach have to explain it again. Make sure you have it before you go through it,” Kitchell said.
Odum — who said he wants to take both a vocal and a lead-by-example approach — thinks games will provide an impetus for chemistry.
“This time of year is the hardest grind of all, really. Building chemistry? You can do it in practice, but you have to learn it over games. You learn game-by-game on how guys move on certain plays, how they read defenses. Once we get past the early part of the year, we’ll develop chemistry even more than we have and we’ll move on,” Odum said.
If ISU can get the alchemy right, the Sycamores believe they can have a good season. ISU was picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference and finished 8-10 in the MVC a year ago. However, ISU was just one missed bucket in the regular-season finale away from finishing in a tie for third place.
“We’re really talented. Honestly, if we can get everything right, the possibilities are limitless for this team,” Kitchell said.
TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is in a nexus between patience and progress.
ISU track sending record 22 to postseason
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).
ISU baseball hoping Manaea can get its MVC Tournament moving in right direction
Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
But this is the 2013 Sycamores, after all, and after a season in which seemingly little has gone right, it appears its stars will remain crossed at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
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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.
Ort sets ISU RBI record in 16-7 win
Robby Ort celebrated his Indiana State baseball Senior Day on Saturday by becoming the Sycamores’ all-time leader in RBIs as ISU ended its regular season with a 16-7 win over Bradley at Bob Warn Field.
Bradley ends 16-game MVC losing streak against ISU
Momentum was the only thing riding on Indiana State’s baseball game against Bradley on Friday. With a five-game winning streak going, ISU wanted to keep the good vibes going into next week’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
ISU couldn’t do it.
Behind 16 hits and Manaea's pitching, ISU beats Bradley
Indiana State’s baseball team rode a wild ride of emotion on Thursday.
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.
Indiana State women add five transfers, including experienced D-I point guard
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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.
Johnson, Lyke win MVC titles for ISU
Indiana State’s Felisha Johnson and Maurice Lyke were both crowned Missouri Valley Conference champions on Saturday during the MVC Track and Field Championships at Drake University.
ISU earns badly-needed win
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Metro roundup: RHIT’s Evans sets Div. III record in high jump
For the third time this season, Rose-Hulman senior Liz Evans topped the NCAA Division III all-time national record in the outdoor high jump Friday night.
ISU’s Mascari and Hope win MVC track & field titles
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ISU pole vault tradition continues with help from its author
Pole vault is track and field for the adrenaline junkie, Indiana State senior Nicole Hope proclaimed during a recent practice at Marks Field.
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.
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METRO ROUNDUP: ISU men's track picked first in MVC Championships, women second
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.
That may change this year, but the Sycamores will face some stiff competition in their quest for the championships.
North grad Welker helps Whitson earn first NCAA bid as coach
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.
Rose tallied 66.5 points for its finishes in 11 men’s sports, just ahead of Franklin with 66. Hanover was third with 53 points.
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Rose-Hulman’s hot streak in men’s tennis came to an end Saturday in the semifinal round of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament at the West Indy Racquet Club.
Manaea fights off bad hip, wet weather to toss four innings
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Pounds broke his own school record to win the men’s hammer throw.
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.
So when one of its athletes enjoys an outstanding season, like senior Kelsey Rosselli is doing for the Pomeroys’ softball team in 2013, media publicity doesn’t always follow.
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.
Metro roundup: ISU hands out spring awards
The Indiana State University athletic community, along with family, friends and fans, paused Tuesday night to honor the spring sports teams at the Terre Haute Savings Bank Spring Sports Banquet.
Most of the ISU teams are still in competition with the baseball team having 13 games left of its regular-season schedule before beginning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament May 21, the softball team with just three games left of the docket this coming weekend against Southern Illinois and the track and field program with just one more meet before beginning its postseason events.
The ISU women’s golf team is the team that has ended at this time, with the group recording a sixth-place finish at the MVC championships one week ago.
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Rose-Hulman earned its third victory in its last at-bat in the last five days with a 6-5 win over Franklin in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference baseball Tuesday night at Art Nehf Field.
ISU relay teams enjoy strong day at Drake Relays
It was a day for the relay teams to shine at the 104th Drake Relays Saturday as four of the five Indiana State relay teams that competed ran times that put the team among the top five in school history for their respective events.
Indiana State baseball series canceled
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Metro roundup; Five Wabash Valley players on Terre Haute Rex team
The Terre Haute Rex will look to three-peat as Prospect League Western Division champions with a roster that includes a quartet of Wabash Valley players. Indiana State University standouts Tyler Wampler and Josh Dove will reunite with former Little League and high school rivals Cody Gardner (Wright State), Tim Johnson (Vincennes) and Bryan Nacke (Vincennes) for the summer season.
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