TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State swingman Khristian Smith was a fixture at Sycamore basketball events during the 2011-12 season.
Smith was ever-present at practices and games. He always had a smile on his face. It was evident he was happy to be a Sycamore.
The positivity that Smith projects is just how the affable freshman from Indianapolis is. But on another level, the smile was just there trying to fool the public.
Deep down inside, the 2011-12 season was torturous for the former Indianapolis Pike standout. Smith did not academically qualify to be eligible last season. His grades were good enough to enroll at Indiana State, but not good enough to qualify through the NCAA clearinghouse.
As a result, he had to sit last season out and get his grades to a level where he could be eligible for the 2012-13 campaign.
That meant, for the first time since he was 4, Smith would play no organized basketball for an entire season.
“I appreciate the game a whole lot more now. I’ve played basketball since I was 4. Having a year taken away? That was real hard, especially coming into college. I expected to come in right away, but it didn’t work out,” Smith said.
The path to ISU was circuitous for Smith, but mainly, it was frustrating. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound swingman initially committed to Cincinnati. However, Smith did not academically qualify upon leaving Pike.
He elected to attend a year of prep school at Maine Central Institute (and was MVP on Maine Central’s tournament championship team) to get himself in good stead academically with the NCAA’s standards. But it didn’t happen there either.
Smith decommitted from Cincinnati and committed to ISU in November 2010. Smith was not able to academically qualify for the 2011-12 season and sat out last season as a grayshirt.
“He’s been though an awful lot. He didn’t qualify out of high school. He went to prep school and didn’t quite make it. He took the ACT and SAT tests multiple times, but it just didn’t happen,” ISU coach Greg Lansing said.
Lansing said that the will was there for Smith to get his grades in order, but he never had the support system to get over the hump. Lansing said it’s a common problem as players are often ignorant that the poor grades they receive as underclassmen in high school can and will come back to bite them when college offers get serious.
“We have great academic support here and he needed it. Young guys [in high school] don’t realize that those grades count when you’re a freshman and a sophomore. If they’re falling through the cracks then, you have a lot to overcome. These guys in high school need great guidance starting when they’re freshman,” Lansing noted.
Smith could have left ISU and enrolled in a junior college, but he elected to stick it out. It wasn’t easy. Smith could not participate in any official team activities.
“My basketball court was the classroom. I knew I had to get in, study real hard and do everything I had to do,” Smith said.
Though Smith could only watch, Lansing lauded him for projecting the right attitude.
“He was around the guys, but he couldn’t do anything with the team. The only thing he could do is work with [strength coach Dave] McManus,” Lansing noted. “He couldn’t do anything, but the funny thing was he was a great teammate last year. He supported them and pulled for them, but to be stripped of something you love so much was tough for him.”
Smith bonded with ISU’s 2011-12 redshirt freshmen — Devonte Brown and Brandon Burnett — as well as Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop. All had to sit out last year.
But they could practice and Smith could not. He did his best to learn via observation.
“I saw the little things that people do. You’re able to see little gaps you can take advantage of. I watched Devonte [Brown] and Brandon [Burnett] struggle a little at the beginning and now I’m a little unsure now with it being my first time out there,” Smith said.
If Smith is unsure, he’s done a good job of hiding it. As ISU practices ahead of its exhibition trip to the Bahamas on Aug. 12, Smith has been impressive and as athletic as advertised. Smith has a nice touch on his outside shot and is quick to get to the basket. Defensively, he made one unfortunate ISU shooter pay for a weak shot during Thursday’s practice when he swatted it onto the adjacent court.
“He’s tough. He’s a tough guy. He had a rough year last year. I think it builds fire. I think it’s like the guys who sit out and redshirt for a year. You get that itch for the game. He’s a talent no one really knows about in the league. I think he’s going to surprise some people,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.
Since Smith arrived, its been whispered among those close to the Sycamore program what kind of potential he could have. Smith acknowledged how hungry he is to finally get to play and knows there’s anticipation about his potential.
But he’s also matured through his long wait. There were no bold statements about what he thinks he can do as his ISU career is finally upon him.
“There’s a lot of anxiousness to get out on the court. We’re all anxious. This is a new team with a whole new focus. We have something to prove. Everyone has had my name written on things and I haven’t done anything. I’m just trying to work hard to prove myself,” Smith said.
• Rhett Smith suffers finger injury — On the first play of ISU’s Thursday practice, freshman forward Rhett Smith suffered a dislocation of his pinky.
Khristian Smith also suffered a toe injury near the end of Thursday’s practice, but it was not believed to be serious.
• ISU completes nonconference schedule — The last two dates on ISU’s nonconference slate have been filled. The Sycamores will play host to Winthrop on Nov. 13 and Division II Truman State on Nov. 17.
ISU will play five nonconference home games in 2012-13, including February’s BracketBusters game.
After sitting out season, Khristian Smith is ready to play
TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State swingman Khristian Smith was a fixture at Sycamore basketball events during the 2011-12 season.
- Indiana State University
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
Indiana State senior Felisha Johnson will be traveling the world this summer after being named to represent the United States in the women’s shot put at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13
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.
ISU’s Hope places 13th in NCAA pole vault
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.
ISU's Manaea selected 34th overall by Royals
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea selected 34th overall by the Kansas City Royals.
ISU's Manaea is mystery man of MLB Draft
There is no consensus as to where Manaea might be drafted. Some experts still have him being chosen among the top 20 picks. Some don’t have him being picked in the first round at all.
ISU's Johnson, Wise compete at NCAA nationals
Indiana State's Felisha Johnson and Katie Wise competed at the NCAA Track an Field Nationals at the University of Oregon.
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.
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.
Four Indiana State athletes advance to NCAA outdoor track and field championships
Three Indiana State seniors and a freshman have punched their tickets to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in two weeks at Eugene, Ore., with their Friday efforts in the 2013 NCAA East Preliminary at Aggie Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T.
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 sending largest group yet 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.
Indiana State to host 2014 MVC baseball tourney
Build it… and they will come. The Missouri Valley Conference and Indiana State University made that famous line from the movie “Fields Of Dreams” reality Thursday.
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.
TODD GOLDEN: Don't give up on ISU baseball just yet
If you had to pick one word that would describe the 2013 Indiana State baseball season, it would have to be frustration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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- Etherington, Moore happy to be with ISU basketball