Indiana State Sycamores
Overall Rank: #137
Conference Rank: #7 Missouri Valley Conference
2008-09: 11-21, 7-11
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Kevin McKenna (26-37 at Indiana State, 115-60 overall)
Do not pay any attention to the overall record of Indiana State during the 2008-2009 campaign. The beginning of the year was a mess due to some defections and suspensions. Yet, by the end of the year Coach Kevin McKenna had the Sycamores playing quality basketball and the team won six of their last seven regular season games.
Key Losses: C Jay Tunnell
The Sycamores will not need much contribution from incoming freshmen Jake Odum or R.J. Mahurin or brothers Logan and Lucas Eitel. However, Dwayne Lathan, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, could make an immediate impact. Two years ago the 6-3 guard started a dozen games and averaged 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest. Iowa transfer Jake Kelly could also be joining the team this year if the NCAA allows him to forgo the usual transfer rules. Kelly took over the Hawkeyes at the end of the year and became a quality scorer and a decent 6-6 distributor.
But where will the newcomers fit in on a team with an already experienced backcourt? Point guard Harry Marshall was the catalyst of the offense once he returned from missing the first ten games of the season. He averaged 13.6 points and 4.3 assists on the year and Marshall should be in for a big senior season. Rashad Reed, Aaron Carter and Jordan Printy are all quality three point shooters. Reed is most prolific scorer of the bunch and Carter will do a great job getting to the basket. Those two should get the first crack at the starting jobs on the wing if they can hold off the newcomers. Printy, who started 14 games last year, is best suited to come in off the bench and provide a spark with his outside shooting.
Indiana State only losses one significant player, but Jay Tunnell is a big loss. The big man was second on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game and first in rebounding with 6.2 rebounds. The good news is that ISU has options. Isiah Martin had a great freshman campaign two years ago before struggling with injuries as a sophomore. He will not be a big time scorer, even if he is healthy, but Martin is a superb shot blocker. Josh Crawford and Brant Leitnaker also have starting experience. Leitnaker started a dozen games last year and could be Tunnell’s permanent replacement. No matter who plays the most, somebody has to replce Tunnell’s interior scoring or the talent on the perimeter will not have as much space to work.
Who to Watch:
Fortunately Carl Richard can handle a lot of work on the glass. The 6-5 wing tallied 6.0 rebounds per game as a freshman and added 6.1 points. ISU will not want to have to rely on Richard to hit the glass and score inside. In fact, Richard simply does not have the size to be an interior scorer. That leaves the job up to Martin, Crawford or Leitnaker, or more likely a combination of the three.
Indiana State could be a sleeper team in the Missouri Valley Conference if they find a way to replace Tunnell. Yet, the conference is full of talented guards. What separates one team from another is the play in the frontcourt. Is Martin healthy and confident enough to put his disappointing sophomore season behind him and play like he did as a freshman? If so, the Sycamores should finish in the top half of the conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Harry Marshall, Senior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Rashad Reed, Senior, Guard, 11.0 points per game
Aaron Carter, Junior, Guard, 7.6 points per game
Carl Richard, Sophomore, Guard, 6.1 points per game
Isiah Martin, Junior, Forward, 4.0 points per game