Jake Odum the Key to Scrappy Indiana State This SeasonPosted by WCarey on December 30th, 2012
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Sunday afternoon’s game between Illinois State and Indiana State.
Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael have deservedly received the acclaim of being the two best players in this year’s Missouri Valley Conference, but Indiana State guard Jake Odum is quietly emerging as one of the league’s best as well. The junior, who is a local product out of South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana, provides the senior-less Sycamores with a calming presence who can also effectively score and distribute the basketball.
So far this this season, Odum has been instrumental to the Sycamores’ 8-4 start, which has included victories over Ole Miss, Miami (FL) and Illinois State. In an 87-85 overtime win over Ole Miss at the Diamond Head Classic, Odum displayed his ability to contribute to the offense when he is not shooting the ball particularly well. Finishing the game at just 3-of-9 from the field, the junior still managed to finish with 16 points to accompany his eight assists and eight rebounds. The Sycamores’ win over Miami was also an overtime victory at the Diamond Head Classic, but this one was defined by both squads’ ineptitude on offense. Despite shooting just 27% from the field, Indiana State was able to battle to a 57-55 victory as Odum banked in a 15-footer to seize the victory with just 0.8 seconds to play. Sunday’s win over Illinois State was of great significance for the Sycamores as it opened conference play on the right foot against a squad that was almost unanimously selected to finish in the top three of the conference. Once again, it was Odum who filled the stat sheet for the Sycamores finishing with 17 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
While Odum has unquestionably been the leader for the Sycamores this season, they have also gotten contributions from several key role players. Gonzaga transfer Manny Arop has emerged as a versatile swingman by averaging 13.4 points a contest while also collecting 6.2 rebounds a game. Juniors Lucas Eitel and R.J. Mahurin have been consistent three-point shooters throughout the early season, which is a great sign for a team that plays in a three-point heavy conference. The Sycamores’ defensive effort has been keyed by sophomore big men Justin Gant and Jake Kitchell, who both provide a strong presence in the middle.
In the preseason, Indiana State was projected to finish just seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference. While the conference is fairly tough year in and year out, the early play of the Sycamores should be encouraging to the Indiana State faithful desiring a higher finish in the conference. With Jake Odum leading the show and a solid slew of role players, it is not unreasonable to believe the Sycamores could make a run to finish in top three of the conference and earn a postseason berth this season.