Indiana State guard Devonte Brown has been hailed as one of the Sycamores’ best defenders, but he’s also experienced the kind of frustration typical of freshmen.
His minutes have varied from game-to-game and so have his performances. Even his defense has slipped on occasion as he’s learned to make the right decisions at the right times in ISU’s defensive scheme.
So it was a relief to Brown that he was able to be such a vital cog in ISU’s 57-55 overtime victory over Miami in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The Killeen, Texas native notched career highs in playing 26 minutes as he scored nine points and five rebounds.
Seven of Brown’s points were scored in the period when ISU cut its nine-point deficit down to a single possession late in the second half.
“It felt good. It felt good to get a run. I haven’t been playing that much, but I’ve been patient,” Brown said.
But Brown’s biggest contribution likely came — you guessed it — on the defensive end. Brown was one of several Sycamores assigned to cover Miami guard Shane Larkin. The son of Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the Miami guard averages 13.1 points and is a deadly 48.2 percent shooter from 3-point range.
Against the Sycamores, Larkin was never a factor. He scored four points and was 0-for-5 from 3-point range. He was 2 of 13 from the field overall.
“That’s on our coaches. We just follow the scouting report. We knew he played a lot of minutes, so we paid to our matchups and we didn’t want him to go left. We got contained to his right and that kind of locked him down,” Brown said.
Brown also credited ISU’s help defense, which dogged the Hurricanes all game, especially after big man Julian Gamble fouled out … on a drive by Brown.
“Sometimes he got past us, but our help side was always there. [Guarding Larkin] was really team-oriented,” Brown said.
As for his offense, per his nature, he bounced the credit to one of his teammates.
“It’s really down to [ISU point guard Jake] Odum. He gave me that wisdom to keep going and see my lanes. When I got my opportunity, I just treated it like it was practice. I stayed within the offense and got something good out of it,” Brown said.
ISU coach Greg Lansing was pleased.
“We have a lot of good players [on the bench] over there who want minutes and Devonte is one of them. He was our best defender and a tremendous spark for us [against Miami],” Lansing said.
n Non-exempt success — For the second consecutive season, ISU emerged from a non-exempt tournament with a 2-1 record.
ISU was also 2-1 in the Old Spice Classic in November 2011. The Sycamores defeated Texas Tech and Fairfield. The loss was to Minnesota.
ISU is scheduled to play in the Great Alaska Shootout next season. It also plans to play in tournaments in Las Vegas and Cancun, Mexico in the coming seasons.
• Fly the friendly skies? — While ISU was on high after a 2-1 performance at the Diamond Head Classic, that meant absolutely nothing to the gods of winter weather and airline travel.
Due to blizzard conditions in Indiana, ISU was stuck in Phoenix as of this writing. Their flight left Honolulu late Tuesday and the team was scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday, but the snow storm kept the team grounded.
Efforts to reach ISU team representatives for comment were unsuccessful.