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.
DeNato proves IU can pitch too
Joey DeNato dispelled the notion that College World Series newcomer Indiana is all about offense.
The junior left-hander threw a four-hitter and the Hoosiers looked mighty comfortable at TD Ameritrade Park while beating Louisville 2-0 on Saturday night.
Etherington, Moore happy to be with ISU basketball
Not even two weeks into their college experience, Indiana State freshmen men’s basketball players Alex Etherington and Demetrius Moore stood sentinel as 115 kids ran around them collecting basketballs and getting autographs at the Greg Lansing Basketball Camp on Thursday.
ISU's Johnson invited to World University Games
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When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)
Q&A: ISU football coach Mike Sanford ready for fall
It’s hard to believe, but Mike Sanford has already been Indiana State’s football coach for six months.
Time flies, but Sanford’s task of preparing for his first season in charge of the Sycamores comes with few breaks.
Rex streak ends at 7
The Terre Haute Rex table setters — Kyle Kempf and Tyler Wampler — had three of the team’s eight hits Friday at Bob Warn Field, but the Rex offense found itself in a big early deficit for the first time this season.
Manaea’s selection puts ISU in spotlight
Once the stress and hang-wringing over where Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea might get drafted was over, the angst subsided and was replaced with a happier emotion. Pride.
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Indiana State senior Nicole Hope concluded her final competition of the 2013 outdoor season on Friday as she tied for 13th in the women’s pole vault at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Metro roundup: Former Sycamores take talents to CFL
Former Indiana State players Johnny Towalid and Justin Hilton were signed by teams in the Canadian Football League this week.
Exit Minnesota, enter Oregon State on 2016 football schedule
When the Big Ten Conference implemented a nine-game football schedule starting in 2016 and discouraged members from playing Football Championship Subdivision teams, there was one game on Indiana State’s future schedule that was likely on borrowed time.
ISU’s scheduled game at Minnesota in 2016.
METRO ROUNDUP: Swift reaches finals of NCAA Championships in 110-meter hurdles
Indiana State junior Greggmar Swift will be among the top eight in the NCAA in the 110-meter hurdles after qualifying for Saturday’s finals on Thursday.
Swift ran a time of 13.51 seconds to take third in his heat. He’ll run in either lane 1 or lane 8 on Saturday.
“I got out pretty good and then I hurdled three or four when I got bumped and it threw me off my rhythm,” said Swift, a native of Barbados. “I tried to get back my rhythm … but I held on for the third place.”
ISU's Manaea selected 34th overall by Royals
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea selected 34th overall by the Kansas City Royals.
Sycamores ready for more NCAA track success
Five of the six Indiana State athletes in Eugene, Ore., already have had some memorable track and field careers for the Sycamores.
But they’ll go ahead and try to add to their list of accomplishments in the NCAA outdoor championships this weekend.
Dustin Betz has been a scorer and key piece of eight Missouri Valley Conference championship teams between track and cross country. He’ll compete today in the 3,000-meter steeplechase as the Sycamores’ second best in the event behind Jordan Fife.
Mike Lucas joins ISU football staff
What traits do head football coaches seek out when they hire position coaches?
Indiana State football coach Mike Sanford provided insight into that question as he hired former Southeast Louisiana head coach Mike Lucas to his staff Tuesday. Lucas will be the Sycamores’ defensive line coach.
“You have to look at your staff and see what you need. I felt like in this particular case, I wanted an experienced defensive line coach. I feel like we have a mixture of experience and youth and I want to keep that going,” Sanford said.
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Prior to last week’s Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament at Illinois State’s Duffy Bass Field, fear and loathing prevailed in some corners of the conference.
It seemed that Missouri State, Creighton, and most notably, Wichita State, had a monopoly on the season-ending tournament since the Coolidge Administration. (It had actually been since 1998.) How could the tournament make it without playing in one of the three aforementioned universities’ big venues?
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Three Indiana State seniors and a freshman punched their tickets Friday to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in two weeks at Eugene, Ore. Two more got the job done Saturday on the campus of UNC Greensoboro in the East Preliminary.
Sycamores bow out of MVC Tournament
Indiana State’s baseball was out of pitching, and after a loss to Wichita State on Thursday, the Sycamores were out of second-chances too at the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament. What the Sycamores weren’t out of was heart, guts and clutch performances from some unlikely sources. But in the end, Friday’s elimination game rematch against the Shockers was a sampling of ISU’s season overall — the Sycamores were out of luck.
Metro Sports: Chalk up No. 5 for Liz Evans
Senior Liz Evans capped the top career in Rose-Hulman athletics history with her fifth national championship and eighth All-American award at Wisconsin-La Crosse on Friday.
Four Indiana State athletes advance to NCAA outdoor track and field championships
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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 freshman and Terre Haute North graduate John Mascari is among the enormous group of Sycamores competing this weekend at the NCAA East Preliminary. The top 48 NCAA track and field competitors in each event on this half of the United States are narrowed down to 12 who will compete at the NCAA meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Manaea's shoulder causing him latest pain
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ISU's Negele answers call in big way in wake of Manaea injury
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Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
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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's athletic treasure trove
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.
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