TERRE HAUTE —
Mastery of a basketball season comes in many forms. Mostly, it comes in forms that involve avoidance of turnovers, anemic scoring and poor defense.
The mechanics of X-and-O success in basketball are obvious, but what’s often overlooked in building a successful campaign is managing the rhythm of the season, which is the hardest thing of all.
Timing is everything, and no matter how good a team may be, if it’s off at the wrong time, the entire year can be morphed into something uglier than it really was. Conversely, if a team that has struggled to find itself hits its sweet spot at just the right time? It can turn an average season into something special.
There’s no better example of that than where Indiana State’s men’s basketball team finds itself as it heads to St. Louis for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Friday.
For the first two-thirds of the season, the Sycamores were the surprise team in the Missouri Valley Conference. Picked seventh in the preseason, ISU rose to first place and held on to it as late as Feb. 12. Conference wins over Wichita State and Creighton — both ranked at the time of the victories — harkened great things for the Sycamores come March.
Only it rarely works that way. Since Feb. 12, ISU has won just once and hasn’t won at all against MVC competition. Mixed in have been lackadaisical efforts — in particular, in losses at Bradley and at home to Drake.
Adding salt to the wounds was a suspension for second-leading scorer Manny Arop, a blow the Sycamores could ill afford to absorb when they were trying to get their sea legs to finish the regular season on a strong note.
The Sycamores’ 76-57 beatdown of Creighton at Hulman Center on Feb. 6 — when there wasn’t a cloud in the Sycamore sky — seems so long ago.
Mired in a five-game MVC losing streak, and buoyed by the expectations built up by ISU’s success in the first part of the MVC season, some Sycamores fans are despondent. On a MVC-centric message board, one ISU fan called it a “miserable nightmare of a season” — one in which ISU clinched its fourth-straight winning season.
But when a team doesn’t get the timing right, as ISU has failed to do in the last third of the MVC season, perception becomes reality … no matter what facts fly in the face of emotion.
Right now, all hope seems lost. But the wavering faith ignores the one and only tried-and-true trait of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference season.
That nothing has been tried-and-true in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The MVC has always been described as a conference where teams beat each other up and that anyone can win from the first team down to the tenth. There’s always been a kernel of truth, but honestly, in most seasons, the teams that play on Thursday night in St. Louis have thoroughly deserved to be there. There’s a reason no play-in team has won at Arch Madness since 1998.
But this season might finally be the one where all of the old Valley parity chestnut rings true. The 2013 MVC season has been absurdly unpredictable. Who knows what to expect when the games begin on Thursday?
That’s the lifeline for ISU as it limps into Scottrade Center on Friday. Things are going badly now, but there’s been few seasons where so many teams’ fortunes have turned on a dime so quickly.
Take Wichita State. A week ago, as of this writing, they were all but anointed as presumed MVC champions. The Shockers only had to win one of their two remaining games to clinch the title. WSU then lost at home to Evansville and were beaten at Creighton. So much for the anointing.
Take Illinois State. The Redbirds started 0-6 in the MVC … guaranteed Thursday play-in material in any other season. But the Redbirds rallied to finish 8-10 in the MVC. They will kick back in their hotel room and relax on Thursday — the first time a team that started 0-6 avoided the MVC Tournament play-in round.
“The Valley’s all about making runs. Illinois State started off poorly and [finger click] like that … they turned it around. We made our run in the beginning. We’ve had our lull lately, but we know what kind of team we can be. In the middle of the season, everyone saw it. We’ve been working to get better every game. I think we’ll be prepared to make a run,” ISU guard Lucas Eitel said.
Things are bad for ISU right now. The Sycamores have had their turn in the doldrums. But the Sycamores are capable of recovering too. And if this MVC season has taught us anything, it’s that no team’s fate is written in stone.
No one stated it better than ISU point guard Jake Odum did on Tuesday.
“People can look at it as going into the tournament on a losing streak, or, you can look at it as that we’re due to come around and be successful. We’re a better team than we’ve been playing like lately. It’s going to even out,” Odum said. “I really believe we’re going to go into St. Louis and win this first game [against Evansville on Friday] and continue winning throughout the tournament.”
This MVC season is defined by teams turning on a dime at the right time. The Sycamores are overdue for a good spin of their own.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
TERRE HAUTE —
Mastery of a basketball season comes in many forms. Mostly, it comes in forms that involve avoidance of turnovers, anemic scoring and poor defense.
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.
Terre Haute's Mascari running 10,000 meters for chance to get to Hayward Field
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
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea has battled through so many aches and pains during the 2013 season that it can be hard to discern the serious pain from the pain he pitches through.
ISU's Negele answers call in big way in wake of Manaea injury
When Indiana State starting pitcher Sean Manaea slumped on the mound in obvious pain after he took his warm-up pitches, red flags raised for ISU’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament hopes.
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.
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.
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
Indiana State coach Teri Moren believes the addition of five more newcomers to the program — in addition to the five who had already joined the program earlier this calendar year — will provide her coaching staff the athleticism and depth it needs to play a successful, up-tempo brand of basketball next season.
Metro roundup: Woods softball takes seventh in national tournament
The St. Mary-of-the-Woods softball team finished seventh in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association softball tournament on Tuesday at Firestone Stadium.
Metro Roundup: Indiana State’s Shakir Bell on Performance Awards watch list
College Football Performance Awards has announced its watch list for the 2013 CFPA FCS Running Back Award, and Indiana State’s Shakir Bell earned a spot on the list.
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
Alcorn State’s baseball team might be ranked in the bottom 10 in RPI and Indiana State might have never lost to a Southwestern Athletic Conference team. So it wouldn’t appear that a quality win was in the offing when Alcorn State visited Bob Warn Field on Friday.
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
Indiana State produced two champions during the opening day of action in the Missouri Valley Conference track and field championships Friday at Drake. Freshman John Mascari, a Terre Haute native, won the men’s 10,000-meter race and Nicole Hope won the women’s pole vault for the second time in three seasons.
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.
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.
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.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman wins HCAC all-sports trophy
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.
METRO ROUNDUP: Rose-Hulman tennis falls in HCAC semifinal
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
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.
ISU track enjoys big night at IU's Billy Hayes Invitational
The Indiana State Sycamores either won or finished as the top collegian in 12 events, led by the record-breaking performance of senior Brandon Pounds at the 2013 Billy Hayes Invitational Friday at Indiana University.
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.
Since then, she’s helped The Woods finish runner-up in three straight U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national tournaments in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
ISU baseball gets back into rhythm with victory
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