TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is in a nexus between patience and progress.
With seven newcomers on a 12-man roster, the patience part of that nexus is obvious. Both the Sycamores’ players and coaches know full-well that having that percentage of newcomers on the roster means the Sycamores will still be a work-in-progress when they take to the Pauley Pavilion hardwood for Friday’s season-opener against UCLA.
Though ISU had summer practices, a Bahamas trip and preseason practice to gel, team chemistry just doesn’t click on command. It takes time. It takes trial-and-error. It takes a good share of failure before players get it right.. It’s hard. It can be frustrating, but Lansing feels that once the Sycamores work some of their bugs out, they have the talent to have a good season.
“I like them because they’re good people off the court and they’re good people. They have good chemistry off the court. What we’re struggling with is our chemistry and competitiveness on the court right now,” Lansing said.
In terms of minutes, ISU returns just 77.7 minutes per game from its 2011-12 roster — and 31.1 of those minutes were taken up by point guard Jake Odum. The junior has recovered from the plantar fasciitis that dogged him during his sophomore season and the first-team All-MVC preseason selection is the unquestioned cog of the Sycamores.
After that, the experience level drops off considerably. Forward R.J. Mahurin played 16.4 minutes per game in an injury-plagued sophomore campaign.
Mahurin’s a scorer (7.2 per game, but a team-high 18 points per-40 minutes) who will be counted on to help the Sycamores even more in that department this season. Guard Lucas Eitel played 13.3 minutes and will continue to provide depth to the backcourt.
The biggest uptick in minutes will come from ISU’s sophomore big men. When junior college transfer Mike Samuels broke his foot on the Sycamores’ August Bahamas trip (Samuels is likely out for the season), it gave Jake Kitchell and Justin Gant their chance to man the middle. Neither played more than 10 minutes per game last season, but that will change.
Which leaves seven healthy new players … and the heart of ISU’s quest for chemistry.
“Off-the-court, I think we all get along. On-the-court? Some guys are here, some guys are other places. It comes down to us older guys to hold everyone accountable and make sure everyone’s there, focused and ready to go. If everyone’s mentally engaged, that chemistry can come through practice,” Kitchell said.
Not all of ISU’s newbies are created equal. About the only thing ISU’s newcomers have in common is that they’ll make their Sycamore debuts on Friday. After that, given their differing levels of experience, the similarities end.
Swingman Manny Arop has Division I experience at Gonzaga and is an athletic talent who can shoot and is expected to produce immediately. Then there’s ISU’s two redshirt freshmen — point guard Devonte Brown and shooting guard Brandon Burnett. Both have had a year’s worth of time to absorb Lansing’s system.
Khristian Smith was also around for the entirety of the 2011-12 season, but couldn’t practice due to academic ineligibility. The freshman swingman might be ISU’s most gifted player of all.
Equally comfortable shooting or slashing to the basket, Smith is also learning to improve his defense. Junior college transfer Dawon Cummings has shown flashes of offensive and defensive prowess and is also expected to help immediately.
Finally, there’s true freshmen Rhett Smith and T.J. Bell. Both are forwards and both could be pressed into service given the injury-depleted frontcourt.
The different stage each player is at adds an element of difficulty to building chemistry. Lansing admitted that he detests “repeating himself” in practice. But also realizes that patience is virtue he and the coaching staff must show in the early stages of the season.
“It really is a process and it requires us all to be patient. We had Jake Odum play heavy minutes last year and no one else really did. We have a lot of inexperience. Guys are searching their way, finding their way, trying to find out what their roles are. They have to be able to trust each other. We have to hold each other accountable and trust each other on the court,” Lansing said.
Patience requires dealing with the adversity that patience requires. It’s inevitable that players are going to mess up. What you don’t want is for the mistakes to devolve into habits that can deep-six confidence and turn the season in the wrong direction.
“When things are going well, it’s easy to support each other. When things aren’t going well? Guys start worrying about their own selves. Then the communication level goes down. These guys aren’t selfish guys, they’re good guys, but on the court, they can be a little selfish,” Lansing said.
“That just means they’re worrying about how they’re doing too much. We’re suffering from that too much, but we’ll get out of it. They work hard and they listen,” he added.
Veteran leadership usually helps to smooth these issues out. ISU’s two Jake’s — Odum and Kitchell — have emerged as leaders.
“I think what the younger guys need to do is to listen well and get it right the first time. If they don’t have it, ask a question or slow things down a bit. That’s better than just going through it, messing it up, and then having coach have to explain it again. Make sure you have it before you go through it,” Kitchell said.
Odum — who said he wants to take both a vocal and a lead-by-example approach — thinks games will provide an impetus for chemistry.
“This time of year is the hardest grind of all, really. Building chemistry? You can do it in practice, but you have to learn it over games. You learn game-by-game on how guys move on certain plays, how they read defenses. Once we get past the early part of the year, we’ll develop chemistry even more than we have and we’ll move on,” Odum said.
If ISU can get the alchemy right, the Sycamores believe they can have a good season. ISU was picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference and finished 8-10 in the MVC a year ago. However, ISU was just one missed bucket in the regular-season finale away from finishing in a tie for third place.
“We’re really talented. Honestly, if we can get everything right, the possibilities are limitless for this team,” Kitchell said.
TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is in a nexus between patience and progress.
- Indiana State University
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.
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.
- More Indiana State University Headlines
- Sycamores bow out of MVC Tournament