ST. LOUIS —
If you listen to Evansville coach Marty Simmons, today’s Indiana State-Evansville Missouri Valley Conference Tournament game is a rematch that really isn’t one.
If you listen to the Sycamores, it’s very much a rematch and a chance for redemption.
The Sycamores and Purple Aces will lock horns at 3:35 p.m. today at Scottrade Center in a MVC tourney game that pits teams that played each other to close out the MVC regular season.
Evansville won going away at Ford Center last Saturday in an 84-68 victory. The Sycamores haven’t forgotten what ailed them at Evansville and are eager for another shot.
“Being that we recently lost to them, I like the fact we get kind of redemption game to erase what happened last time and make up for it. We’ve learned a lot from the mistakes that we made last game. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that,” ISU point guard Jake Odum said.
The elephant in the room is whether suspended ISU forward Manny Arop will play. Arop has missed the last two games due to an unspecific violation of team rules. ISU coach Greg Lansing has stated that Arop was “day to day.” Lansing has also stated that Arop would return this season.
Arop took part in ISU’s shootaround on Thursday at Scottrade Center and in ISU’s formal practice at Harris-Stowe College.
Simmons had little doubt that Arop would see the floor today.
“We anticipate Manny being back. The biggest thing is the anticipation of Manny playing from our standpoint. He’s a terrific player, a dynamic player, is so versatile and can do so many things for their basketball team,” Simmons said.
Arop’s absence in the previous game looms large over Evansville’s preparation for this one. When Arop was in the lineup during ISU’s 72-62 victory at Hulman Center on Jan. 19, he was 7 of 9 from the field and had a 19 points.
“We’re going to look out some of the things we did in the first previous two games. There’s a lot of variables to look at from our standpoint,” Simmons noted.
“Are there things we can do better? Or make an adjustment with different lineup and treat certain things differently. You treat it just like another game as far as preparation, but one of their better players didn’t play against us,” he added.
Paramount for ISU is improving its defense. After briefly leading in the early part of the second half at Evansville on Saturday, the Sycamores’ defensive resistance dissipated and the Aces went on to shoot 62.1 percent in the second half.
ISU coach Greg Lansing said the only difference in the Sycamores’ preparation for the Aces was more rest.
“We gave them Sunday off. We went hard and went at each other and we could actually scrimmage some on Monday. Other than Tuesday, I gave them Tuesday off,” said Lansing, who also explained his rationale with the rest.
“With the schedule we played, and the young guys we have, I’m not trying to give them an excuse, but I think we got tired. It’s because these guys have been hard-working in practice,” he explained.
Evansville also has the experience advantage with six seniors to just three upperclassmen (and no seniors) for the Sycamores.
Evansville also likely hasn’t forgotten the heartbreak it suffered when ISU knocked the Aces out of the 2011 MVC Tournament with a 52-50 victory via an Odum buzzer-beater. That win propelled ISU to the MVC Tournament championship.
No matter what’s on Evansville’s mind, Odum knows that ISU has to recover that which defined it during the good times this season and use it to maximum effect in St. Louis.
“It’s toughness. Something that we’ve showed we have this year and sometimes we haven’t showed it,” Odum said.
“Going back to our freshman year [when ISU won the MVC Tournament], you’ve got to fight every single session. We kind of focused in on every four minutes and won them to shorten the game. That’s something we’ve got to translate this weekend,” Odum added.
n Pulling out of a slump — ISU, which has lost five of its last six, isn’t the first MVC team be mired in a slump this season. In fact, the ebb and flow has hit nearly every conference member and the on-again, off-again nature has largely defined the MVC season.
Creighton, the league champion, was not immune. The Bluejays lost five of seven in late January/early February, including a 76-57 loss to ISU. Creighton coach Greg McDermott stressed that staying the course was the key to getting out of it.
“When you have 18,000 fans in every game, you’ve got a lot of assistant coaches that have ideas when things go bad. Because of the internet — and the power of the internet and Twitter and Facebook and everything — some of those things become prevalent in social media,” he said.
“It’s hard to put blinders on to that. Our message to the team was, ‘I don’t care what going on outside of our locker room. Inside of our locker room, we’re not going to point fingers and make any excuses. We have to get better.’ I think staying close enabled us to dig our way out of it,” McDermott said.
Illinois State started 0-6 in the MVC, but recovered to finish 8-10 and became the first 0-6 team to avoid the MVC Tournament play-in round. Illinois State coach Dan Muller echoed McDermott’s sentiments about staying the course.
“We actually went to some longer practices, some two-a-days, but stayed with our same philosophy and worked a lot more on the defensive end. I wanted to make sure our guys understood that I believed in them. They kept the faith,” Muller said.
n Marshall named Coach of the Year — Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall won his first Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year award with 23 first-place votes.
The Shockers finished second in the MVC after they were picked fifth in the preseason poll.
Greg McDermott (13 first-place votes) was second despite winning the MVC regular season championship. Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson (1) was third despite finishing last. Evansville’s Marty Simmons received two first-place votes and Bradley’s Geno Ford received one.
MVC Tournament — ISU vs. Evansville
Tipoff — 3:35 p.m. at Scottrade Center, St. Louis.
Broadcasts — TV: Fox Sports Midwest. Radio: WIBQ-FM 98.5. Twitter: @TribStarTodd
Last time out — ISU lost at Evansville 84-68 Saturday.
Series — ISU leads 83-75. The teams split the season series.
No. 5-seeded Indiana State Sycamores (17-13) — G Jake Odum (6-4, Jr., 14.4, 4.5 rpg, 4.7 apg), G Dawon Cummings (6-4, Jr., 6.6), G-F Khristian Smith (6-6, Fr., 5.4), F R.J. Mahurin (6-8, Jr., 10.5) and C Justin Gant (6-8, So., 7.3, 4.5 rpg) are possible starters. F Manny Arop (6-6, Jr., 12.6, 5.3 rpg), G Lucas Eitel (6-2, Jr., 4.3), G Devonte Brown (6-3, Fr., 3.6), F Jake Kitchell (6-10, So., 2.6), G Brandon Burnett (6-6, Fr., 1 ppg) and F-C Rhett Smith (6-7, Fr., 0 ppg) are key reserves.
Coach — Greg Lansing (55-42, 3rd year at ISU).
No. 4-seeded Evansville Purple Aces (18-13) — G Ned Cox (6-1, Sr., 11.1), G Troy Taylor (6-0, Sr., 6.6), G Adam Wing (6-4, Fr., 2.8), G-F Colt Ryan (6-5, Sr., 20 ppg) and C Egidijius Mockevicius (6-10, Fr., 5.4, 4.8 rpg) are possible starters. G D.J. Balentine (6-2, Fr.., 8.1), G Lewis Jones (6-3, Sr., 6.2), F Jaylon Moore (6-7, So., 3.8) and F Ryan Sawvell (6-8, So., 3.5) are key reserves.
Coach — Marty Simmons (85-101, 6th year at Evansville; 184-173, 12th season overall).
Injuries — For ISU, C Mike Samuels (foot) is out. F Manny Arop (suspension) is probable.
Next – The winner plays the winner of the Creighton-Bradley/Drake quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. Saturday in a MVC Tournament semifinal.
ST. LOUIS —
If you listen to Evansville coach Marty Simmons, today’s Indiana State-Evansville Missouri Valley Conference Tournament game is a rematch that really isn’t one.
- Indiana State University
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.
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.
Indiana State loses 2 in MVC softball
Indiana State aspired to upset Illinois State to get at least a doubleheader split in Missouri Valley Conference softball Thursday at Price Field as the Sycamores opened an eight-game season-ending homestand.
Paige Schreiner hit a two-run blast over the left-field fence in the fifth inning and junior Shelby Wilson delivered a sizzling RBI triple down the right-field line in the sixth as ISU ended the day playing well against the league’s highest-scoring offense.
The result was still a 5-3 loss to the Redbirds (26-18, 11-6 Missouri Valley Conference) as freshman Halle Humphrey gave up four runs in the first two innings. Humphrey, called upon to pitch the opener as well — she’s the only full-time pitcher remaining on the team — gave up six runs and eight hits as the Sycamores dropped a 6-1 game to start the day.
ISU, MVFC brace for change at FCS football level
It seemed so far-fetched.
Internet rumors circulated that Indiana State had been approached by the Sun Belt Conference to bring the Sycamores’ football team into the Sun Belt’s fold.
The Sun Belt is part of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Bowl football. Big boy football … and all it entails.
ISU football in good spirits after healthy Spring Game
Was Saturday afternoon’s weather an omen for Indiana State football as the Sycamores wrapped up spring practice with the annual Blue-White Game at Memorial Stadium? After several practices conducted in less-than-perfect conditions, they’d like to think so.
Loyola ready to take big step
Loyola University and the Missouri Valley Conference took their first steps together Friday and the MVC is hoping the Ramblers don’t have to take too many baby steps before they become a competitive part of the conference.
Sanford wraps up first spring with ISU
The final day of Indiana State football’s first Mike Sanford experience is upon the Sycamores.
Lansing excited about Etherington's signing with Sycamores
The spring signing period for men’s basketball is usually a time to use available scholarships to load up on junior college additions and transfers.
To find a diamond-in-the-rough at the high school level who can give you four years? That’s harder to come by.
Creighton sweep puts ISU in thick of things
In a difficult early-season Missouri Valley Conference schedule, Indiana State took its lumps. Unenviable back-to-back trips to contenders Missouri State and Wichita State had ISU reeling with five straight MVC losses eight days ago.
Second City in the Valley: Loyola joins the MVC
For the first time in its history, the Missouri Valley Conference will have a home in the Second City.
The Chicago Tribune confirmed Saturday via a Loyola University source that the Ramblers will replace Creighton as the MVC’s 10th team. Loyola — a member of the Horizon League — will join the MVC effective July 1.
Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman — who was part of the MVC search committee that scouted potential replacements for Creighton — confirmed Sunday that the Ramblers were in the MVC loop.
Sycamore baseball holds off Creighton rally
By his own estimation, Indiana State baseball coach Rick Heller has been involved in close to 2,000 baseball games. If anyone has seen it all on the field, he’d be as good a candidate as any.
Devin Moore pitches gem in 6-1 victory over Creighton
A hip injury suffered by Indiana State ace starting pitcher Sean Manaea shuffled the Sycamores’ starting rotation for the second weekend running as it opened a Missouri Valley Conference home series against Creighton on Friday.
Sanford gets 2nd look at Sycamores
In the immediate aftermath of a practice, game, or in Friday’s case for Indiana State, a scrimmage, most football coaches defer to the film to paint a true picture of what was and wasn’t done. ISU coach Mike Sanford is no different. With the flurry of activity on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to get a true evaluation of anything watching it live.
ISU center FN Lutz glad to be back in the middle of things
For someone who missed an entire season due to a knee injury, Indiana State center FN Lutz has certainly kept himself visible since then.
METRO ROUNDUP: ISU's Brandon Pounds the top collegian in Sea Ray relays
Indiana State senior Brandon Pounds was the top collegian in the men’s hammer throw and fellow senior Felisha Johnson opened up the Sycamores’ three-day competition at the University of Tennessee’s Sea Ray relays with a second-place finish in the women’s hammer throw.
Stealing records: ISU softball’s offense gaining momentum
The Indiana State softball offense is no juggernaut, but the fog may be clearing on a program that has had a long history of struggles with few signs of consistent winning.
Explosive, dedicated athletes like Morgan Allee and Megan Stone are two reasons to believe this group of Sycamores can spark a turnaround.
The Sycamores are scoring an average of 3.1 runs per game while also ranking in the middle of the Missouri Valley Conference pack in hits and batting average. But the Sycamores are on pace to break the school record for on-base percentage as they lead the MVC in walks, hit-by-pitches, sacrifice bunts and stolen bases.
Allee, with 17 regular-season games to go, broke the school record for stolen bases in a season Tuesday against IUPUI and is among the 10 best in the NCAA. Her total of 30 makes up almost half of ISU’s 74.
“I’m so big [that] they think I won’t go. It works out well,” the stocky shortstop said.
ISU’s QB battle
Quarterback battles come in all shapes and sizes, but one could forgive Indiana State’s Mike Perish, Robert Tonyan Jr. and Trent Lancaster if they feel a bit more beleaguered than your average signal-caller.
Not only is the trio fighting for the right to be named ISU’s starter by the Sycamores’ football opener Aug. 29 at Indiana University, but all three also are trying to learn a new offense, they’re acclimating themselves to new coach Mike Sanford’s different way of running things, and they’re trying to maintain harmony amongst each other, so whoever the ultimate winner is can effectively lead the team without angst.
All of it is playing out during ISU’s spring practice, and so far, none of the quarterback candidates have separated themselves from the pack.
Sycamores wrap up season sweep of Purdue in baseball
Jordan Pearson went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and all nine position starters for the Indiana State baseball team recorded at least one hit, leading the Sycamores to a 10-5 victory and a season sweep of Purdue in front of 679 fans Tuesday at Bob Warn Field.
ISU claimed its second consecutive game and improved to 14-13 overall, while Purdue dropped to 11-19. The Sycamores are 4-1 against the Big Ten Conference this season after sweeping their two-game series with the Boilermakers and winning two out of three at Minnesota in mid-March.
ISU and Purdue combined for nine runs over the first three innings as the Sycamores took a 5-4 lead. Pearson (single), Mike Fitzgerald (single), Tyler Wampler (one-run single), Landon Curry (single) and Cody Zimmerman (two-run single) tallied five consecutive hits with one out in the bottom of the second inning as ISU scored four runs in the frame.
Metro roundup: ISU’s Allee breaks steals record in twinbill split
Junior Morgan Allee broke the ISU single-season stolen bases record as the Indiana State softball team split a doubleheader with the Jaguars of IUPUI Tuesday at Price Field.
ISU defeated IUPUI 7-0 in the opener and fell 17-6 in the nightcap.
“It's nice to be able to get records but it's really not that important to me,” Allee said about breaking the record. “I would rather us win every game than for me to personally break any records.”
Allee led off the bottom of the first inning of the first game with a walk and promptly stole second base to break the ISU single-season record.
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