Monday marks the beginning of the second season of the Josh Schertz era at Indiana State, one hopefully filled with more consistency and less roster turmoil.
The Sycamores open their season at home against Green Bay after defeating Tusculum in an exhibition game 86-53. This will begin a three-game home stretch to open the season, with both Ball State and North Dakota State travelling to the Hulman Center.
The Sycamores will then participate in the Gulf Coast Showcase, their first game being against East Carolina.
They then plan to play two more home games, the second of the two being the first conference game of the year, against Drake, before they play their first true road game at Miami (Ohio) on December 3rd.
Last year, the Sycamores started the season very strong in their first year with Schertz at the helm.
They opened with a four-point road win against Green Bay and were rewarded by having to travel to then #7 Purdue, a game they lost but competed very well in.
They then won back-to-back games before having to play Oklahoma and New Mexico State.
Overall, it was a great start to the season. They beat the teams they should have beaten and competed against the teams they needed to compete against.
The rest of the season, though, was plagued by inconsistency. They Sycamores beat Oakland City and Northern Illinois to end the nonconference schedule 9-6, but then started the conference schedule 0-4. After halting that losing streak with a win, they lost four in a row again.
They won two straight to stop that streak, and followed that up with a six-game losing streak, including the five-point loss to Illinois State in the MVC tournament, ending their season.
They finished the season 11-20 overall, 4-14 in the MVC, but there were signs of hope to come; only four of the fourteen conference losses were by more than double-digit points.
Following the up-and-down season, the roster went through major upheaval heading into this season. One of Indiana State’s all-time greats Tyreke Key, finally back from injury, transferred to Tennessee where he is already playing like an All-SEC player. Fan favorite Simon Wilbar also transferred, after following Schertz to Indiana State from Lincoln Memorial, to Holy Cross.
They Sycamores welcome in five transfers of their own, Masen Miller from Truman State. Jayson Kent from in-conference foe Bradley, Courvoisier McCauley from DePaul, Trenton Gibson from exhibition foe Tusculum, and Cade McKnight, also from Truman State.
The success and consistency of the team relies on the success of both the overwhelming new production as well as the success of the two returning stars, Cameron Henry and Cooper Neese. Both were recognized on the Preseason Missouri Valley All-Conference team, and the success of the team hinges on their production and leadership.
There have been bright spots for the Sycamores, but also major inconsistencies and turnover. If those things can be fixed and the new faces step up, Schertz and the Sycamores can truly start to build toward being a competing force in the MVC.