Nov 15, 2013, 10:29 AM EDT
When the Sycamores of Indiana State take the Purcell Pavilion floor this Sunday against the Irish, it will not be your normal early-season contest. Coming off one of the better seasons in recent school history, the Sycamores look to continue the trend of knocking off high-level opponents.
Last year, the Sycamores played 10 games against NCAA Tournament bound teams, winning five of those contests. Aside from defeating regional two-seed Miami (Fla.), Indiana State also downed Final Four participant Wichita State, Creighton, Ole Miss and Iona.
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Unlike the steady play of the Irish, the Sycamores tend to be an up-and-down team, playing to the level of their opponent on many occasions. They do have one constant throughout every game they play, Terre Haute’s (Ind.) own, Jake Odum.
Odum, a first-team all-Missouri Valley honoree, is just the 35th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. A strong, heady ball handler, Odum will be a great early-season challenge for Notre Dame guard Eric Atkins. Just don’t be surprised to see Pat Connaughton check Odum at times due to his larger frame and strong ability to keep guys out of the lane.
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Along with Odum, the Sycamores boast another talented backcourt player in Manny Arop. A transfer from Gonzaga, this will be Arop’s second game on the Purcell Pavilion court. When Gonzaga visited in 2010, Arop scored a then career-high 16 points in an Irish win. The key with Arop is to not let him get going, his confidence grows exponentially if he gets off to a hot start.
Let’s quickly turn to the Irish.
To come out of Sunday’s game with a win over Indiana State, the Irish need to do three things well – defensive rebounding, keep Odum out of the lane and limit their turnovers.
If the Irish are able to do those three things, then it will be tough for Notre Dame to come out of Sunday with a loss.
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