#110 Indiana State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Indiana State Sycamores

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #110
Conference Rank: #6 Missouri Valley

Indiana State Team Page#110 Indiana State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Indiana State Basketball Tickets

In mid-January, Indiana State was 14-3 and eyeing a possible at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. By the middle of the next month they were 21-6. However, a three game losing streak to close out the regular season put an end to their NCAA hopes. The Sycamores had to settle for a trip to the NIT, where they lost in the first round at Arkansas by 20 points. With some major departures, this group is expected to take a step back and another trip to the NIT would be a great stepping stone for a relatively young team.

2013-14 Record: 23-11, 12-6
2013-14 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Greg Lansing
Coach Record: 79-55 at Indiana State, 79-55 overall

Who’s Out:
Jake Odum was Indiana State’s superstar and ran the point for four years. As a senior he averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds. Impossible to replace, Coach Greg Lansing now needs to find a new identity for his team. Losing fellow starters Manny Arop and Dawson Cummings will not help the situation. Arop was second to Odum in the scoring department, averaging 10.9 points per game; and, along with Cummings, was the most prolific outside shooter on the team. This was not a particularly potent three-point shooting team, but without Odum, Arop and Cummings, there are not any proven shooters left on the perimeter. Speaking of shooters, Lucas Eitel also graduated. He was a shooter off of the bench and 57 of his 66 shots came from beyond the arc. The other departure is Demetrius Moore, a part-time starter at forward who averaged less than a dozen minutes per game.

Who’s In:
Finding a new point guard is of the utmost importance and Coach Lansing hopes newcomers Charles Bennett, Brenton Scott and Laquarious Paige are up for the job. Bennett is coming off of an amazing season at Lamar State Community College and his two years of collegiate experience are huge for a team lacking perimeter experience. Bennett can run the show, but he can also score. He tallied 45 points in a game last season and averaged 20.6 on the year. That may not be in the best junior college conference around, but it is still impressive. Scott redshirted last season so he may lack floor experience, but he has been around the program. Like Bennett, he is a scoring point guard, but Scott brings defensive intensity to the position as well. Alex Etherington and Grant Prusator will add more options on the wings. Both Etherington, as a redshirt, and Prusator, as a junior college transfer, have more experience than most newcomers. However, making outside shots will be the determining factor when it comes to playing time this year, not experience. Incoming freshman big man Brandon Murphy rounds out the group of new faces.

Who to Watch:
The focus will move towards the frontcourt for a little while, especially if wing Khristian Smith is considered a frontcourt player. Smith is the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder at 10.5 and 4.3, respectively. The 6-6 junior did a great job last season stepping into a starting role and now he could step into an even bigger role as an upperclassman. He is not a great shooter, but is at least a threat to hit some three-pointers. Mostly he will use his size and strength to finish around the basket. If he starts making free-throws and mid-range jumpers more consistently, Smith will see a huge jump in his scoring. Justin Gant is a traditional stretch power forward who averaged 10.2 points per game. The big man hit 42.0 percent of his limited attempts from long range and will do plenty of scoring in the paint as well. Gant has not been the strongest rebounder and he will need to start throwing his 6-9, 230 pound frame around more effectively. Jake Kitchell will help in the rebounding department. The 6-10 senior was just a part-time starter in 2013-2014 and was not much of a scoring threat, but he is a good rebounder and a strong defensive presence.

Final Projection:
Most of the minutes on the perimeter will have to come from the newcomers, but Devonte Brown is an interesting junior guard to keep an eye on this year. Brown has been up and down during his two years with Indiana State, yet he is a good player who will get every opportunity to be the starting shooting guard and one of the Sycamores biggest scoring threats. Somebody on the perimeter needs to score some points. And somebody needs to set up those scorers. If Coach Lansing can find the right players to do that, he has the frontcourt to make some noise in the Missouri Valley Conference. But expecting another NIT berth is asking too much.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Charles Bennett, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Devonte Brown, Junior, Guard, 5.2 points per game
Khristian Smith, Junior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
Justin Gant, Senior, Forward, 10.2 points per game
Jake Kitchell, Senior, Center, 3.1 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.1 (175th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.5 (131, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.0 (133, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.7 (178, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.4 (140, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.8 (145, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.3 (86, 3)
Rebound Margin: 0.5 (177, 4)
Assists Per Game: 12.9 (150, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (72, 4)


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