TERRE HAUTE —
They’re juniors officially, but seniors by proxy.
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team has no seniors on its 2012-13 roster. It has six juniors, but only three — Jake Odum, R.J. Mahurin and Lucas Eitel — have played a game for the Sycamores.
It means the experienced junior trio are two-year seniors of a sort. If it’s a thought that occurred to Odum, it’s one that took him aback.
“Don’t say that! Seniors? Wow!” Odum jested.
The truth is that Odum and his experienced teammates are well aware that the mantle of leadership falls upon them.
Fellow junior and Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop has spent a year in the program, but hasn’t played a game yet.
Junior college transfers Michael Samuels and Dawon Cummings are program newbies just as are ISU’s three true freshmen — Khristian Smith, Rhett Smith and
With the Sycamores having so many new players to depend on — redshirt freshmen Devonte Brown and Brandon Burnett will also debut — the process of assimilation is the first brick the juniors have laid as far as their own leadership is concerned.
“I just have to perform on the court and show these young guys what to do, that’s how I plan to handle [leadership]. I have to let them know that just because they might be tired during a summer workout, everybody’s going through it,” Odum said.
The new NCAA summer workout rules — coaches are allowed to participate in two-hour-per-week chunks over eight weeks with the players — have helped the experienced players refine their own brand of leadership. Instead of trying to become leaders in the informal and often unorganized open-gym format of the past, their leadership can be forged in a more formal setting with supervision from the coaching staff.
ISU will get an additional 10 formal practices in preparation for its exhibition trip to the Bahamas in August.
“I like it a lot. It’s better when you have coaches in the gym, rather than working out on your own. They can teach you more and help you with your shooting form, things like that. The extra practices are going to help a lot, especially since we have so many new guys,” Odum said.
Mahurin, who along with Odum and Eitel spent one season as a redshirt, has been impressed with the work ethic of the new players. He mentioned that Rhett Smith already has the team-best bench lift.
“They’re really smart basketball players and we have a lot of athleticism. They work hard and they’re going to surprise people with how hard they work. You almost can’t tell they’re coming in from high school,” said Mahurin, who will get married to his long-time sweetheart a week before ISU embarks for the Bahamas.
Though the Sycamores and coach Greg Lansing have all remarked on the positive progress the team has made so far, it is just the summer, when hope springs eternal for all basketball teams.
Odum knows that what the Sycamores accomplish through their summer workouts must have some meaning once the season schedule rolls around.
“Toughness is going to be key with some of these freshmen. They haven’t played any games here before. It’s something I have to show these guys,” Odum said.
The toughness Odum seeks from his teammates is something he had tested himself during a trying 2011-12 campaign.
He entered the season with back spasms he suffered with during the run-up to the season. Shortly after the season began, he developed plantar fasciitis, but played through it. Odum also suffered with shin splints.
“The season was frustrating. It was such a day-by-day thing. One day I could feel great and the next day, you’d feel terrible,” Odum said. “It’s basketball and athletics. Every single person on the floor has something wrong with them at one point or another. [Playing through it] tests your mental capacity as to how you can perform [with an injury].”
After a month of rest, Odum is optimistic his aches and pains are behind him.
“I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’m healthy, it’s the first time I’ve been healthy for the whole summer. It’s just good for the program and my health especially,” Odum said.
It wasn’t just injuries that tested ISU’s juniors-to-be in 2012. Though ISU finished with a winning record for the third straight year and a berth in the postseason, it was a letdown. ISU was eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference after having been picked a contender in third.
While the four seniors from that group moved on (though former center Myles Walker is still a Sycamore … on the football team), the juniors were left to learn the lessons from what didn’t go right last season and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We learned from last year about handling situations and handling each other. I love all of the guys from last year, but something didn’t click right,” Mahurin said.
“I’ve been taking the off-season to figure out what it was. We had talent, we all liked each other, we just didn’t finish. That’s something we’re stressing a lot — finishing plays and not coming up short on anything,” he added.
Finishing strong was an emphasis of a team workout last Thursday. To wit, on an open drive to the basket, sophomore Justin Gant was urged to dunk the ball, not just lay it up.
Lansing feels the juniors are being heard by their teammates. If their ears remain open, he’s confident the Sycamores can achieve big things in the two years the juniors have left to lead.
“The new guys are listening and getting as much as they can out of it. It’s nice to know, in a year, we’ll have the same time. If we can keep these guys together and continue to improve, it could be an interesting couple of years,” Lansing said.
TERRE HAUTE —
They’re juniors officially, but seniors by proxy.
- 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