INDIANAPOLIS – After four years of having to carry a significant load for his basketball team at Northrop High School, Brenton Scott won't be afforded the luxury of relaxing this season as a freshman guard with Indiana State, but he'll at least learn how to succeed at the next level at a bit of a slower pace.
“Brenton doesn't have to worry,” Sycamores coach Greg Lansing said. “He can back up Jake at the point and he can play off of the ball too.”
“Jake” would be Indiana State's all-everything senior guard Jake Odum, who led the Sycamores in scoring (13 points per game), assists (over 150) and steals. The 6-foot-4 Terre Haute native also pulled down nearly five rebounds per game last season, which was one of mixed emotions for Sycamore followers.
“We just kind of ran out of gas,” Lansing said of last season.
At one point, Indiana State was 16-8, but dropped 7 of its final 9 games to finish 18-15. But there were so many highlights that it would be hard to call the season disappointing in any way.
For the first time since the Larry Bird era, the Sycamores qualified for the postseason (they played Iowa in the National Invitation Tournament) for the third consecutive season. Indiana State also notched wins at Final Four participant Wichita State (by 13 points), against Missouri Valley power Creighton, Atlantic Coast Conference champion Miami (Fla.), Mississippi, and in-state rivals Evansville, IUPUI and Ball State.
Lansing's team also fell in overtime at the Hulman Center to one of the better teams in the country in New Mexico.
“We went to the Bahamas with 10 practices last summer, Honolulu last Christmas,” Lansing said, “and we played a lot of guys that hadn't played much for us the previous season.”
That won't be an issue this season.
Scott, fellow freshman guard Alex Etherington, and junior college transfer Demetrius Moore won't have to be standouts early – though Lansing won't be upset if they are – because Indiana State returns eight players that combined for 140 starts last season.
“We've got a lot of guys back, but we also like the additions that we've made,” Lansing said. “We're awfully excited about this season.”
Scott won't be heavily relied upon early, but Lansing has liked what he has seen from the 6-foot guard so far this summer.
“We loved him in recruiting him,” Lansing said. “Obviously, because we offered him a scholarship. He's made of the right stuff. He's very competitive. He's very tough. We love him and he's been outstanding.”
The Missouri Valley Conference lost Creighton to the Big East Conference this summer, but gained Loyola of Chicago and still has Wichita State, which bounced into the national consciousness with its run to the Final Four this spring. Lansing feels the success of the Shockers can only help his program.
“We certainly use it,” Lansing said of the Shockers' success as an ancillary benefit. “Even though they are an opponent that we'd like to beat, that just shows recruits the caliber of guys that we've got to have.”