TERRE HAUTE —
With three players new to the starting lineup and multiple freshmen and sophomores contributing, Indiana State coach Teri Moren and her veteran staff have done their share of teaching throughout the season.
While it’s nothing new to sports to use film as a tool to aid in that learning process, modern technology makes the process of watching video footage of a team’s own games and opponents’ games a different process than in the past.
Laptops might be for studying and writing a term paper, but college basketball players can also put in time watching basketball footage during down time.
Anna Munn, the Missouri Valley’s second-leading scorer at 15.7 per game, is one of the Sycamores’ most dedicated to reviewing film, Moren said.
“Our best basketball IQ kid is Anna Munn, and that’s because she watches,” Moren said. “She’ll ask for DVDs. We have Synergy, which is our scout [software] that we use. They have passwords and can watch themselves, watch our games, watch opponent games.
“Some of the kids aren’t as likely to watch all that. Anna Munn is one of the kids who watches a lot. She likes the good, bad and the ugly. She doesn’t get caught up on watching herself knock down shots. She’s watching how did we get beat.”
Riding a season-high four-game winning streak, Indiana State (16-8, 8-5 MVC) plays host to Illinois State at 2:05 p.m. today with the chance to move into third place. The Sycamores and Redbirds have each had all week to prepare for one another’s tendencies. The Sycamores have seen what the Redbirds are doing differently since their last meeting, while also analyzing what happened in that first meeting — a 66-65 Illinois State victory in Redbird Arena.
ISU had a chance to win that game, but Anna Munn’s open mid-range jumper at the buzzer just missed. But that was a promising moment for the ISU staff because the Sycamores showed they had learned from a mistake six days earlier.
“Against Evansville, we didn’t get a shot, we turned it over. [Freshman] Kasey [Johnson] gets the rebound, dribbles to half court and kills her dribble, we don’t get a shot,” Moren said. “The very next game’s Illinois State and we were in a similar situation. We get the rebound, we get it into Taylor’s hands, she gets it up to Anna, our best shooter, and we get an open look. To me, that shows progress, we talked about that situation watching film and said this is what needs to happen. We’ve witnessed that growth.”
Munn, ISU’s leading scorer at 15.1 points-per-game, said the Sycamores take a mature approach to how video of games will help them win. When four of their MVC losses are by a combined four points, it also helps the players understand how important each little thing is.
“We definitely take film seriously,” Munn said. “It’s an opportunity for us to see it on the court. It’s a chance to not only see the things we did wrong, but also to see the things we do right. And can do right again. The little things, like one rebound, one free throw, they all matter.”
The coaching staff will watch film daily, and the Sycamores will watch film as an entire team regularly. Moren said that’s the best way the staff can best teach how the guards and post players should be working together.
But it’s not a one-way process. Moren likes to make the players part of the scouting report process. The players might all watch opponent film first on their one before coming together to gameplan.
“They’re usually right on target with what they’ve seen and what they’ve picked up on. Some will be able to say we need to guard so-and-so like this,” Moren said. “We’ll kind of allow them to have input on the scouting report. You kind of make it fun. They kind of feel like they’re a part of the process of the preparation.”
The third-year Sycamore coach, who played in college for Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn at Purdue, said times have changed since the early 1990s.
“You used to have three or four tape decks on top of each other that you had to rewind on. It was so different that it is now,” said Moren, who can view on organized breakdown through the Synergy service of a game 24 hours after it happens on a computer 500 miles from her office in Terre Haute.
But the convenience of it only helps if players are receptive to the criticism and eager to learn from what the video shows.
“The film is your greatest tool that you have. It doesn’t lie. Sometimes it’s difficult. Especially individuals, sometimes it’s hard to see themselves not be successful. Everything’s a teaching point for us. We have to make sure to hammer away to them that it’s not personal,” Moren said. “This is what you did, this is the correction on it, you’ve got to be better because of it. I think sometimes you have individuals, and it’s hard to be able to criticize. This isn’t a team that’s like that. They let [mistakes] go. They want to know how to make it better.”
The growth process of the team this “young” team has been enjoyable, Munn said, and it’s more than about taking extra shots or doing defensive drills in practice.
“I really think we’ve grown, not just physically but mentally and emotionally,” Munn said. “We’ve come together a lot as a team. Even we had the tough losses — the one-point games, the two-point games — we’ve stayed together. That’s the biggest thing that’s nice about this team.”
• Battle for third place — Illinois State visits Hulman Center having won seven of the past 10 meetings in the series including the 2013 meeting in Redbird Arena mentioned earlier.
Illinois State (17-8, 9-4 MVC) is 3-3 in MVC road games, coming off a 64-46 victory at Evansville. Candace Sykes, a 5-10 senior guard, scored 21 of her career-high 24 points in the second half of that game.
“I think she posted us once or twice, but they’re looking to get her more on the block,” said ISU assistant coach Joey Wells, who did the detailed scouting Illinois State. “She was more of a 3-point shooter. She’s doing some different cuts and taking it off the bounce more.”
Redbirds’ senior guard Jaime Russell leads the team in scoring with an average of 14.3 points. With Russell and senior guard Alexis Jenkins, the Redbirds like to push the tempo.
“The first time we played them, our transition defense wasn’t very good, and [the Redbirds’] offense was really good,” Wells added. “They’re sharing the ball. The second half against Evansville they made the extra pass every time, whether that was to a perimeter player or a post.”
Redbirds’ post player Janae Smith, who scores at a clip of 13.6 per game, and 6-1 sophomore Maddie Oliver helped hold ISU’s Racheal Mahan to a 4-of-11 shooting night in the teams’ first meeting.
The Sycamores might need a strong night from Mahan, who has shot over 60 percent in three of her past four games. She’s getting help from freshman Marina Laramie, who has scored in double figures in three of the past four.
“Both of them are a tough matchup, but Illinois State is one of the few teams [in the MVC] that have two legit post kids,” Wells said.