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Rebuilt from 'ground zero,' Indiana State basketball is winning with nation's top offense


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Indiana State basketball coach Josh Schertz has built his head coaching career on quickly turning around programs. In 2009, he led Division II Lincoln Memorial to a 14-14 record in his first year, a six-win improvement from the previous season.

What followed was an extremely successful 13-year run leading the Railsplitters to 11 consecutive 20-win seasons and 10 trips to the NCAA tournament while becoming just the second team in the history of Division II to post four consecutive 30-win seasons from 2014-18.

Schertz had stability at Lincoln Memorial, but he took the ultimate leap of faith in 2021 when he took over at Indiana State. A string of transfers after former coach Greg Lansing's departure and the logistical difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant Schertz joined a program with just two players officially on the roster and no way for players to visit the campus in person.

He stressed the importance of "faith over sight" to prospective recruits, using his natural charisma and stellar career at LMU to attract new players and re-recruit former Sycamores who entered the transfer portal.

Year 1 was a mix of former LMU players, three freshmen, several transfers and two holdovers from the previous regime. The result was an 11-win season, but the Sycamores did not stay down for long. Last season, Schertz orchestrated a 12-win improvement, leading ISU to a 23-13 record.

In Year 3, ISU is off to a 9-1 start and is ready to re-introduce itself to a national audience ahead of Saturday's game against Ball State at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast exclusively on Peacock and serves as the lead-in to the Purdue vs. Arizona game, a possible Final Four preview.


Schertz's free-flowing offense has the Sycamores playing some of the best offensive basketball in the NCAA. Per KenPom, ISU is No. 4 in the nation in 3-point percentage and No. 5 in the nation in 2-point percentage, giving the Sycamores the No. 1 offense in the nation in effective field goal percentage, a stat that differs from regular field goal percentage because it adds extra value to 3-pointers made.


ISU has five players averaging double-figure scoring. Southern Indiana transfer Isaiah Swope leads ISU at 19.7 points per game. Sophomore center Robbie Avila is second (16.6) followed by former Pike standout Ryan Conwell (15.2), junior Jayson Kent (13.1) and junior Larry Julian (10.5).

Per ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, ISU would be one of the first four teams out of the NCAA tournament if the season ended last Tuesday. With a chance to make a statement in front of potential selection committee members, ISU is embracing its opportunity to be on a national stage.


Go Sycamore, beat the Cardinals.  Too bad Mr. Schertz probably won't be in Terre Haute for long.


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  • 1 month later...

Something special is happening with Indiana State basketball, and Terre Haute is in love.



TERRE HAUTE – The game is over and nobody is leaving because something special has just happened here — because something special is happening here. Indiana State basketball just happened, all over Bradley. Indiana State basketball is happening all over the Missouri Valley Conference, and don’t be surprised if Indiana State basketball happens to somebody in the 2024 NCAA tournament.

Right now, Robbie Avila and Jayson Kent and Ryan Conwell are celebrating this 95-86 victory against Bradley on Saturday evening with a slow tour around the Hulman Center, slapping palms with fans on the front row and waving to fans higher up the recently remodeled basketball arena that was home to Larry Bird.

Nobody’s leaving because this is too much fun at the Hulman Center, where the Sycamores are running an NBA offense with speed, skill and explosion. The team has some imperfections, depth being one of them — the starting five played the entire second half, and would’ve played the entire overtime had one not fouled out — but Indiana State is the kind of team, all that shooting and guard play and coaching, you won’t want your favorite team to see at the NCAA tournament.


Yeah, it's special until some major program snatches up Josh Schertz.  Enjoy it for the short period it lasts.


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They are a lot of fun to watch no doubt and I'd imagine will have a massive following if they make the tourney with IU sitting at home. I'm the only person in my family who did not attend ISU. (delusions of grandeur through D3 Football) mom and dad ventured back a couple of weeks ago to watch them. 

Hard not to compound this success into a bigger paid day for coach, it does stink to think the roster will probably be decimated by the portal . Though the avid IU fan in me smiles at the idea of a Swope and Conwell (two Indiana kids) in back court in Bloomington next winter ........ one can only hope. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

No. 23 Indiana State ranked for first time since 1979 : https://apnews.com/article/ap-top-25-indiana-state-3c6c79d5075264f525c5b78b4148db2c


Indiana State’s balanced scoring, free-flowing offense and its goggle-wearing big man have the program off to one of its best starts in years.

Now the Sycamores have something that hasn’t happened since Larry Bird played in Terre Haute: a spot in the AP Top 25.

Riding a nine-game winning streak, Indiana State debuted at No. 23 in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll Monday, the Sycamores’ first ranking since reaching No. 1 in 1978-79.

“It’s a group that the community can really wrap their arms around and I think they have. That’s just great to see,” Indiana State coach Josh Schertz told reporters recently. “I know Terre Haute. They love basketball. I know there’s a great history and tradition, from Larry Bird to John Wooden to Clarence Walker.”


Schertz took over the Indiana State program during the pandemic, inheriting a depleted roster with no chance to get players to visit campus. Schertz cobbled together a team that won 11 games his first season and the Sycamores improved to 23-13 last season.

Indiana State (22-3) has been on a roll in Schertz’s third season, winning all 11 home games while taking a two-game lead over Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference at 11-1.

The Sycamores have five players scoring in double figures, led by dynamic 5-foot-10 guard Isaiah Swope’s 17.7 points per game. Big man Robbie Avila has become a fan favorite with his goggles, averaging 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.

Indiana State is fifth nationally in scoring at 85.6 points per game, ninth in 3-point percentage (39%) and is No. 1 in adjusted field goal percentage, according to KenPom. The combination has the Sycamores eyeing their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2011.

“Our goal is we want to get to the NCAA Tournament and advance,” Schertz said. “You never want to put ceilings on yourself. You want to get to the tournament and win games and go as far as you can. You saw what happened last year with Florida Atlantic and San Diego State playing in the Final Four — there’s nothing outside of your reach.”

Go Trees.


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