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No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Southern Illinois:  MVC RD 1

Indiana State returns to action tonight taking on Southern Illinois in Rd 1 of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. The Trees enter Arch Madness as the 8 seed, meaning that they must run off 4 wins in 4 days to defend their tournament title and keep dancing further into March.

Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s play-in round opponent.

Southern Illinois: W/L 8-22 (5-13 MVC 9th place)

Location: Carbondale, IL
Enrollment: 20,037
Notable Alumni: Walt Frazier, Steve Finley, Bart Scott, Brandon Jacobs
Conference: Missouri Valley

The Salukis come into Arch Madness on a 6 game losing skid with virtually no momentum to build upon. This is likely the swan song for coach Chris Lowery who has been on the “hot seat” for what seems like eternity, and has simply not been able to put a quality team on the floor the past few seasons. Southern is led by talented swingman Mamadou Seck. The versatile Seck, originally from Senegal, leads the squad in scoring, rebounding, assists, and pretty much any other stat you can think of !!   Aside from Seck the Salukis really lack quality options, PG Kendal Brown-Surles can be effective at times but more often then not he’s a non-factor.

Prediction: Trees 70  Egyptian Dogs 58

Southern has been terrible the past few outings, any other year they would have surely finished last in MVC play, but they lucked out this year as Bradley decided to go 2-16 in conference play!!  ISU rolls into March playing pretty well their last 2 contests, a decisive win @ Missouri St, and a narrow 1 pt setback against powerful Creighton. The Trees have the talent to make noise in St. Louis, ideally they wanted to not be the 8th seed but nonetheless they have to play with the cards they were dealt and make the best of it. ISU starts 4 seniors, that experience will come into play tonight as they hopefully advance to tomorrows 1 PM date with Wichita St in RD 2.

 

The Shipyard

Trees take down Evansville in Double OT

Indiana State completed the conference sweep up Evansville on Sunday night with a thrilling 90-81 double OT victory inside the Ace’s fancy new Ford Center. ISU was led by high-flying Dwayne Lathan who paced the Trees with a career high 27 points. Jake Odum stuffed the stat sheet with 10 pts, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds while Carl Richard and Steve McWhorter both put up double digit scoring totals with 10 and 12 points respectively.

 Colt Ryan led Evansville with 23 points hitting 6-20 shots from the field to go with his perfect 10-10 night from the charity stripe. Hard-nosed guard Troy Taylor nearly notched a triple double with 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Aces undersized frontcourt of Kenny Harris and Ryan Sawvell combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.

My take on the game:

 What a great game!! Evansville pulled out all the stops to win this one, including unveiling retro orange uniforms, but just could not get the job done as the Trees pulled out the double OT win. Dwayne Lathan was an absolute machine in the victorious effort. Every time ISU needed a critical bucket Lathan produced, the Ace’s had no answer. This effort looked like the Trees of old, and I’m starting to think this team might be back on track. It’s hard to win on the road in the MVC and Evansville is not a pushover like in years past. Good win for the Trees !

 Player of the Game:

Dwayne Lathan (27 pts, 4 rbs, 5 ast)

Next UP:

Drake 2/1/2012  8:00 Tip

The Shipyard

Trees Pick Up 3rd MVC Victory

Indiana State picked up a much needed win on Wednesday night, taking down Northern Iowa 59-54 in Hulman Center. The Trees were led by Sr. Carl Richard who finally bounced back after a series of poor outings, tallying 17 points in 30 minutes of action. Jake Odum stuffed the stat sheet with 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Myles Waker, Steve McWhorter, and Lucas Eitel combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds to catapult the Trees to a win.

Northern Iowa continued to have issues playing away from Cedar Falls. They uncharacteristically shot a frigid 6-21 from beyond the arc, while letting ISU outrebound them 33-28. I will give credit to Panther forward Seth Tuttle, he put up 22 points on an efficient 7-9 from the field along with going 8-9 from the charity stripe. The Trees had no answer for Tuttle all night as he kept them in the game almost single handedly at times.

My take on the game:

Good to see the Trees bounce back and snag a victory. Carl Richard looked like the Carl Richard of old and Jake Odum played a great overall game, but still needs to cut back on his turnovers. Lucas Eitel has been fantastic off the bench lately, chipping in 5 points and 6 rebounds in this outing.

The next 2 games are critical for ISU. Yes, the Trees are 3-7 in MVC play but they are definitely not buried in the cellar by any means. If they can beat Evansville and Drake in their next 2 games then they’ll climb back up into the middle of the conference standings. The MVC is a bit of a mess at this point in the season. Wichita St and Creighton are clearly the best two teams in the conference, after that it’s a log-jam of mystery. ISU needs to focus on getting out of the bottom four of the conference and avoiding the dreadful Thursday night play-in round of Arch Madness.

Player of the Game: Carl Richard (17 pts, 3 rbs, 2 asts)

Next UP: @ Evansville 1/29/12 8:00 tip

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Northern Iowa

After a brief hiatus I have returned with a new Sycamore preview!!  Now, if only the Sycamores could return to winning a few basketball games!!  Tonight, the Trees welcome Northern Iowa to Hulman Center for a 7:05 tip. Lets take a closer look at the UNI Panthers.

Location: Cedar Falls, IA
Enrollment: 13,080
Notable Alumni: NFL MVP Kurt Warner, NFL linebacker Bryce Paup
Conference: Missouri Valley

Northern Iowa comes into tonight’s match up with a 14-7 overall record, currently sitting 6th in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-5 mark. The Panthers have played extremely well at home in the UNI Dome, but have struggled on the road, hopefully that trend will continue tonight!  The Panthers are led by a trio of sharp- shooting guards: Anthony James, Marc Sonnen, along with Johnny Moran and the inside presence of big man Jake Koch. The Panthers have loads of experience, with their core of starters having played in multiple big games over the course of their career. Ben Jacobson always puts a smart, fundamentally sound squad on the court and this year’s Panther team is no different.

Prediction: Trees 62 UNI 68

To say Indiana State has played bad the past several weeks would be a laughable understatement. The Trees have lost 4 straight conference games, and currently sit 9th in the 10 team Missouri Valley Conference with a 2-7 record, not exactly living up to their lofty preseason expectations. UNI shoots the 3 ball as well as anyone in the conference, and anyone who watched Creighton dismantle ISU last Saturday on ESPN2 knows that the Trees cannot contain good shooting teams!  I’m taking the Panthers for the win as my confidence in Indiana State beating anyone at this point in time is very low.

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Missouri State

Missouri State travels to Terre Haute for a 1:05 tipoff, today in Hulman Center.  This is the first meeting between the squads since Indiana State upset the Bears in last years MVC tournament championship game.  Let’s take a closer look at the Southwest Missouri State, I mean Missouri State Bears.

Location: Springfield, MO
Enrollment: 20,802
Notable Alumni: Slugger Ryan Howard, Pitcher Shaun Marcum
Conference: Missouri Valley

The Bears come in with a 9-6 record overall while sitting at 2-1 in Missouri Valley play.  They opened conference action with a mega-upset at Creighton and a victory over Drake, before falling in their last contest to surprising Illinois State.  The Bears are led by reigning MVC Larry Bird Player of the Year award winner Kyle Weems who comes in averaging over 16 pts and 7 rbs per outing.  Weems is the consensus 2nd best player in the conference behind Doug McDermott and will be a major load for the Trees to control.  6’11”Colorado transfer Caleb Patterson (11.9 ppg) man’s the paint for the Bears while efficient Jarmar Gulley (11.1 ppg) and Anthony Downing (10.2 ppg) provide consistent scoring options. The Bears have also been blessed with the surprise play of northern Indiana product (Depaul transfer) Mike Bizoukas who leads the team in assists, dishing out 6 per contest.

Prediction: Trees 64 Missouri St 72

The Trees are struggling right now, Missouri St’s going to be motivated to come in and gain revenge for last years tournament upset, that sounds like a recipe for a loss.  If ISU wants to win this game they must contain Weems, and find a way to put the ball in the hoop.  You can’t win if you can’t score, simple as that!!  Missouri St. has no problem playing on the road, evident with their win at Creighton, so I wouldn’t bet on them coming in and playing poorly.  I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling this could be a long day for the blue and white.

The Shipyard

Trees Chopped Down by Northern Iowa, Fall to 1-2 in Conference Play

Indiana State made their final Iowa road trip on Wednesday night, and much like their previous trip to Drake, the struggling Trees played poorly falling 65-48 toNorthern Iowa. Besides, a 12-1 run to open the second half, ISU never threatened the Panthers in the contest as both teams moved to 1-2 in Missouri Valley play.

Dwayne Lathan once again paced the Sycamores with 15 pts, proving that he is without much debate the best 6th man in the conference, and the Sycamores lone consistent offensive threat. Carl Richard chipped in 10 pts, the other 4 starters (Odum, Printy, McWhorter, and Walker) combined for just 15 points while committing 10 turnovers.

Anthony James paced Northern Iowa with 16 pts, Jake Koch posted 11 pts and 8 rbs, and tattooed sharp-shooter Marc Sonnen knocked in 15 pts, going 3-5 from beyond the arc.

 

My take on the game:

Terrible performance!!! My confidence level in the Trees is slipping after every game at this point in the season. This team has major offensive issues that they can’t seem to overcome. Dwayne Lathan is the one consistent scoring option the team has at this point. Jake Odum committed 6 turnovers to match his 6 points, Printy went 1-5 from distance, and Steve McWhorter played 26 minutes while contributing a stat line of 0 pts, 0 assists, and 1 rebound????  If things don’t turn around soon the Trees could slide to the bottom of the conference in a hurry. I hope they can turn it around, but I’m starting to have doubts after multiple poor performances to start conference play.

Player of the Game:

Dwayne Lathan (15 pts, 3 rbs, 2 stl)

Next UP:

Missouri State 1/7/12  1:05 pm tip

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Bradley

 The Indiana State Sycamores look to even up their Missouri Valley record, welcoming the Bradley Braves into town for a New Years Eve clash. Bradley is fresh off of a 90-51 thrashing at the hands of Wichita State, by far their most lopsided defeat on the year. Let’s examine this years Bradley Braves:

 Location: Peoria, IL
Enrollment: 5,301
Notable Alumni: Hersey Hawkins, Former Colt Marcus Pollard, Former ESPN personality Charlie Steiner
Conference:Missouri Valley

Bradley comes in with a 5-8 record while riding a 4 game losing streak. Their most impressive victories up this point are a home win against Northeastern along with a 1 point victory @ George Washington. Years ago a win @ GW would have been impressive, but the years of Mike Jarvis and his International All-Star squads have passed and the Colonials are now a cellar dwelling A-10 mess.

The Braves are led by Senior forward Taylor Brown (15.2 ppg, 7 rpg) and a respectable pair of guards: Walt Lemon (Great Name!) and Dyricus Simms-Edwards (Long Name!). Jordan Prosser is a talented post player who garnered interest from several Big Ten schools before committing to Bradley. He seems to be developing as a quality prospect coming in averaging over 9 pts and nearly 9 boards per contest.

Prediction: Trees 67  Bradley 56

I’m concerned with ISU’s inability to score points, and I think they’ll have to grind out another win today against a team they should be able handle. This is a win the Trees must have as they can’t afford to fall to 0-2 in conference play!

The Shipyard

Hot Shooting Drake Sends Indiana State Home With a Loss

 

Indiana State found out just how difficult it is to play on the road in the Missouri Valley Conference, losing 79-64 @ Drake on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs dominated virtually the entire contest, demonstrating that they might be a surprise competitor in this year’s conference race. The Trees had no answer for the backcourt duo of Rayvonte Rice and Karl Madison who combined for 46 points, with Madison going a perfect 9 for 9 from the field. Jordan Clarke took care of controlling the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds on the night while controlling the paint. Dwayne Lathan was the lone bright spot for the Sycamores on the night, scoring 24 points in 28 minutes of action.

 My take on the game:

If Drake consistently plays like they did against ISU, their going to be a top 5 conference finisher. In my opinion, Rayvonte Rice is the 3rd best player in the conference behind Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Missouri State’s Kyle Weems. The knock on Rice is that he’s not always motivated coupled with the fact that he has had some off-court issues. There are also constant rumors of his intentions to transfer to a “higher” quality program. He put all of that behind him as he threw up 22 pts, 8 rbs, and 4 stls being without question the best player on the court.

 

Not a good night for the Trees. Jake Odum had more turnovers then assists, Printy didn’t make a 3 ball, and the Carl Richard-Myles Walker combo combined for 7 points. Those numbers add up to a loss on most nights! The Trees did luck out as Creighton and Northern Iowa both lost their conference openers, so ISU is still on a level playing field with 2 of their projected top flight foes. The Trees must bounce back on Saturday and beat Bradley, falling to 0-2 would be a deep hole to dig out of.

 Player of the Game:

Dwayne Lathan (24 pts, 2 blks, 3 stls)

 Next UP:

Bradley 12/31  1:05 tip @HulmanCenter

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Drake

 

Indiana State returns to action tonight traveling to Des Moines,IA to battle Drake in what will be both squads’ Missouri Valley Conference opener. Drake is projected as a lower ranking conference foe; nonetheless they have a few talented weapons and could be a difficult opponent, especially on the road. Let’s take a closer look at the Bulldogs.

 Location: Des Moines, IA
Enrollment: 5,221
Notable Alumni: NFL kicker Billy Cundiff, PGA Pro Zach Johnson
Conference: Missouri Valley

Coach Mark Phelp’s Bulldogs come into this game with a 7-4 record. They have posted quality wins over Iowa St, and perennial mid-major threat Winthrop. They have lost to in-state rival Iowa, Ole Miss, Boise St, and nationally ranked Virginia. Drake is led by talented sophomore Rayvonte Rice. Rice is averaging 18 ppg and 5 rpg coming into the contest, and at 6’4” 235 lbs, he’s a load for any guard to handle. Forward Ben Simons is the 2nd leading scorer on the club (15 ppg) and 6’8” 255 lbs Vermont transfer Jordan Clarke has manned the post averaging 8 ppg and close to 8 boards per contest. The bulldogs are without the services of projected starting center 6’11” Seth Vandeest who is still recovering from a torn labrum. Vandeest is a serviceable post presence who along with Rice, Simons, and Clarke would have gave Drake a solid core of performers.

Prediction: Trees 68 Drake 59

This will be a good test for the Sycamores. If the Sycamores want to compete for the conference title then they must be able to beat the lower level conference opponents on the road and at home. Drake has been pretty successful playing at theKnappCenterand Rayvonte Rice is a talented scorer capable of putting up 30+ anytime he steps on the court, so this could be a dangerous game for the Trees. I think the extended Christmas break will bring us a fresher version of the Sycamores, and I expect them to come our fired up to move to 1-0 in conference play. The Trees will bring their usual air-tight defense and hopefully find a way to make more shots then they did against UL-Monroe. Look for a good performance out ofIowaproduct Jordan Printy. I’m sure the senior sharpshooter will want to leave a lasting memory for his home state fans!

The Shipyard

Stingy Sycamores hold Warhawks to 35 points, move to 9-2

 

In a game that horrified fans of “good” offensive basketball, Indiana State defeated UL-Monroe 50-35 on Wednesday night. ISU once again ratcheted up their defense holding the Warhawks to 31% shooting on the contest, ensuring the ugly victory. This was the final pre-conference tune up for the Sycamores as they begin Missouri Valley play next Wednesday (12/28) in Des Moines taking on the Drake Bulldogs.

 My take on the game:

They might have well played this one with peach baskets instead of rims!!  Neither team could do anything offensively, evident with both teams shooting under 40% on the night. The Sycamores were impressive on the defensive end. The 35 points they surrendered set a school record for fewest allowed in the modern shot clock era. I honestly think this team is taking on the mentality of the old Baltimore Raven teams (pre Joe Flacco-Ray Rice era) where they look to beat teams into submission with their defense and hope to be able to muster up enough points to scrape out victories.

 I think the Trees have to be happy with their non-conference performance. Standing at 9-2 with quality victories over Vanderbilt and BallState, ISU is right where they need to be at this point in the season.

 I don’t have much to say about the ULM Warhawks. Their 1-12 for a reason, if they make it to 5-6 wins I would be surprised. I also think they should change their name and be the ULM Warlocks instead of Warhawks, it just sounds better.

 Player of the Game:

Carl Richard (12 pts, 8 rbs)

Next UP:

@ Drake  12/28  (8:05 tip)  Missouri Valley Conference Opener