JUST A QUESTION, but why is it so hard to building a winning basketball program?

TJames

The JSW Level
JUST A QUESTION, but why is it so hard to build a winning basketball program?

just wondering...but why is it so hard to build a winning basketball program at Indiana State? We've had some great years with Larry Bird, Carl Nicks, Steve Reed, Bob Heaton, Brad Miley, Leroy Staley and Alex Gilbert....and then we had the Michael Menser and Matt Renn....but we haven't had that consistent winning program....

the arena is top-notch. the athletic department has certainly, especially under past administrations, spent much, much more money on men's basketball than it has on other men's sports, like football and baseball. but no matter who the coach is (Ron Greene, Dave Schellhause, Tates Locke, Sherman Dillard, Royce Waltman, Kevin McKenna), there still isn't a consistent basketball "program."

i look at what butler has done. i see valparaiso. heck, who knew who gonzaga was that many years ago?

so what's the answer? how do other schools do it? how can schools with lesser visability who play in lesser conferences than isu get 6-9, 6-10 kids?

past athletic administrations tried to build up the men's basketball program almost to the exclusion of the other men's sports. so what's happened? they hung their hats on basketball. and what's the won-loss record now?

don't get me wrong. i'm not blaming coach mckenna or his coaching staff. and i truly enjoy isu basketball. but isu needs a broad-based athletic program, not just men's and women's basketball.
 
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IndyTreeFan

The Nicks Level
Supporter
just wondering...but why is it so hard to build a winning basketball program at Indiana State? ...but no matter who the coach is (Ron Greene, Dave Schellhause, Tates Locke, Sherman Dillard, Royce Waltman, Kevin McKenna), there still isn't a consistent basketball "program."
Part of the problem is that we've hired coaches that never should have been hired.

1. Dave Schellhause had a problem that was well known when we hired him. But we hired him anyway. He was a "big name."

2. Ron Greene was never the "brains" behind any program he was at, and everyone knew that. I heard when we hired him that Steve Newton was the brains behind Greene's success (which turned out to be completely true) - and I was about 14 years old at the time. But we hired him anyway. He was a "local boy."

3. Tates Locke was an abrasive, worn out shell of a masterful coach, and a lunge for some Bob Knight magic to come our way. It worked for Duke, right?

4. Sherman Dillard was a wonderful guy, a hell of a recruiter, and a lousy bench coach. Getting better, but still lacking the whole package.

5. Royce Waltman was as close to the whole package as we've had since Bob King. I still believe that had Royce not gone through the cancer thing, the recruiting wouldn't have fallen off like it did, and we wouldn't have dropped into the toilet.

The jury is still out on McKenna, but he certainly has the pedigree to be a good coach - time will tell.

Our priorities in the past haven't centered on going out and finding the absolute best coach we can to take our job. (A problem not just with basketball, by the way...) They have centered on getting a "big name," or getting a local boy, or getting a Knight assistant. The hiring of Dillard was better, the hiring of Royce was a stroke of genius at the time, and the hiring of McKenna can certainly still pan out to be a masterstroke.

If we could mix the genes of Royce Waltman (great bench coach) and Sherman Dillard (great recruiter) we could really have something. Who knows, maybe that's how we got McKenna!!!

Just think how sweet it will be when we eventually get back to the mountaintop!!!

:sycamores::sycamores::sycamores:
 

TreeTop

The Menser Level
Supporter
If we could mix the genes of Royce Waltman (great bench coach) and Sherman Dillard (great recruiter) we could really have something. Who knows, maybe that's how we got McKenna!!!

Just think how sweet it will be when we eventually get back to the mountaintop!!!

:sycamores::sycamores::sycamores:
I like your optimism and enthusiasm.

And Tom James, I like this thread, thanks for starting it...I think it's a legit question.

I really hope (obvious statement) we can can do this...have a consistent winning program. And I also feel like we've got some good things happening this year despite our overall win-loss record. Already this year, only 7 games into the conference season, we've done two things that we weren't able to accomplish last season...1) defeat the #1 team in the conference - Ill State was 14-1 overall at the time when we beat them this year and we never beat Drake last year...in three tries. And 2) win a conference game on the road.

So yeah, our win-loss record sucks right now, but I think we've done some things this year that people tend to overlook. And even though it blows to keep saying Next Year Next Year Next Year....I think McKenna is laying a foundation that's gonna payoff.
 

SydCamore

The Captain Level
I think it is due to a lack of community support. I do not blame ISU's coaching staff or athletic department for this. Terre Haute is not a very good sports town, sorry. Obviously, all of us that post on here care about ISU. If this was a good sports town, there would be 7-8000 in the Hulman Center every night. REGARDLESS OF WINNING/LOSING! If we had 7-8000 at Basketball and Football games, the outcomes would be different. After we beat Illinois State this year, Carl Richard said that they all fed off the crowd.

Why do you guys think there is a lack of community support?

My opinions............ Other than the fact that TH is not a good sports town.

1.) The kids in the community do not grow up as ISU fans. They are either IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Illinois (ugh!), etc. We appear to be the second choice for most people in the community.

2.) The city government is not engaged. Mayor Bennett is trying to change this. He is at almost every ISU home game. He actually flew to North Dakota State with the football team this past season. I thought that gesture was pretty cool!
 

TJames

The JSW Level
my two cents worth....

as a native hautian (TH North, Class of '75), i guess i can have an opinion on this one too....terre haute, in general, has a serious identity complex...its that feeling that "if it's in terre haute, it can't be good and if it's not in terre haute, then it's good" mentality....when larry bird was running wild at isu in the late 1970s, we didn't start getting sellout crowds until his senior year...but we were getting national attention when he was a sophomore....it was like, "oh, well, the nation must think they're good, so now we can think they're good"....

plus....terre haute and isu can't figure out what it wants to be....big city or average sized small town....major university or small school....when i worked at isu, i heard some professors say that they wanted isu to be the "harvard of the midwest"....yeah, i laughed at that too...lol...
 

treefromafar

The Sycamore Level
Many good points on this so far. You briefly touched on administration putting more into b-ball than other sports. Fact of the matter is, the whole athletic department budget is too low. This is a case of which came first, chicken or egg. The program needs a larger budget, especially when it comes to recruiting, to get any better. The budget can't be increased unless the whole department increases revenue, which comes from among other things, increased attendance, which comes from winning teams. When we are going out recruiting against the other schools in the MVC, and they all are paying their coach more money, which in turn translates to their whole budget being larger, it put's us behind the 8 ball. Then you factor in the community factor of Terre Haute, like was all ready stated in previous posts. This especially plays out for the African American players. Think about it. Most people want to go somewhere where they see a large contingency of people like themselves. There is not a large AA population at ISU nor in Terre Haute. These factors, in my opinion, are what makes it extremely difficult to compete for an extended period of time at ISU. I am certainly not saying it can't be done, but I think first and foremost, we need to figure out who we are, and take it from there. Look at SIU and Creighton. Both of these schools pay their coaches almost 10 times what Mckenna is getting. Both know exactly who they are. How do we compete with that on a consistent basis?
 

IndyTreeFan

The Nicks Level
Supporter
I think it is due to a lack of community support. I do not blame ISU's coaching staff or athletic department for this. Terre Haute is not a very good sports town, sorry. Obviously, all of us that post on here care about ISU. If this was a good sports town, there would be 7-8000 in the Hulman Center every night. REGARDLESS OF WINNING/LOSING! If we had 7-8000 at Basketball and Football games, the outcomes would be different. After we beat Illinois State this year, Carl Richard said that they all fed off the crowd.

Why do you guys think there is a lack of community support?
I disagree that Terre Haute is not a sports town. I think that if there had been something to come and watch for most of the last 30 years, there would be better support. You simply cannot lose with the alarming regularity that ISU has over the past 30 years and expect people to pony up $$$ to come and watch it. Since I have the day off, and I have no life, here's a little research on our per game basketball attendance:

1977-78 8,953
1978-79 9,961
1979-80 7,998
1980-81 4,578
1981-82 4,822
1982-83 4,558
1983-84 5,382
1984-85 4,947
1985-86 4,635
1986-87 3,961
1987-88 4,338
1988-89 4,087
1989-90 5,459
1990-91 5,356
1991-92 5,983
1992-93 5,210
1993-94 4,779
1994-95 5,108
1995-96 5,031
1996-97 4,895
1997-98 6,652
1998-99 6,061
1999-00 6,750
2000-01 6,056
2001-02 5,132
2002-03 4,339
2003-04 4,168
2004-05 3,781
2005-06 4,278
2006-07 4,328
2007-08 4,289

When you look at those numbers, which are comparable to the rest of the Valley over the long 30-year time period, it's pretty remarkable to think that we only dipped below 4,000 in average attendance in two years. In those same 30 years, we had exactly seven (7) winning seasons. Three of those were in the first three years of the stats. Do you have any idea how remarkable that is? All those years of sucking wind, and we dropped below 4,000 twice. We've got a pretty loyal fanbase. If we were in Philadelphia, we wouldn't have 500 at our games.

I've long been one to decry the apathy of the Terre Haute community regarding ISU basketball. But, as I've made the trip from Indy to TH for the last eight years, it gets more and more difficult to load up the car and come over for what is likely to be a demoralizing loss. I still do it more often than not, but I'm also an unusually committed fan. The "casual" fan, who make up the fans in excess of that 4,000 number, simply won't come to see losing basketball year, after year, after year, after year, after year...

Putting together a string of winning seasons will put butts in the seats. I would venture that if McKenna can replicate the success that his system has generated at Creighton (9 straight 20-win seasons + multiple postseason bids), we would be averaging around 8,000 per game. That would give the Trees a nice homecourt advantage.

The reason that so much of the populace of Terre Haute are IU and Purdue fans is simple - they win. We don't win, we aren't going to top most people's lists. We start winning, for more than a season or two, and people will start coming. It's really that simple. And it all starts with the product on the floor. Sad, but true. I didn't used to think so, but as I've aged, I've figured it out. No one, other than us true die-hards (of which there aren't many) wants to come watch a loser. Just look at this year's attendance in Bloomington. And also look at the attendance for Duke in 1981-82 - DRAKE outdrew them that year. Why? Duke sucked back then. Consistent winning fills Cameron Indoor Stadium. Consistent winning will fill Hulman Center as well.

This doesn't explain the overall question as to why we can't seem to build a program, and butts in the seats certainly has a part to play, but I don't think it's the biggest issue.
 

TJames

The JSW Level
no african-americans in terre haute or isu?

the city and university sure must have changed a lot since i quit working at isu in 1997. i grew up in terre haute. the city has had a large and thriving african-american community for as long as i can remember. my old neighborhood on the northside was predominantly african-american. as for isu not having many african-american students, they have always drawn a lot of kids from the inner cities of indy, gary, fort wayne, chicago, detroit, st. louis and cincinnati.
 

SydCamore

The Captain Level
IndyTree,

Thank You for the attendance figures over the last 30 years. I guess we somewhat compare to the other schools in the conference.

It just seems that there is a disconnect between the school and the community, Maybe this is because of the identity issue.

They dedicated fans that we do come to the games are awesome. We do have a very loyal fanbase, it's just small.

I guess my point is............. I don't understand how the Terre Haute North/Terre Haute South game can attract 8500 fans, but only 4100 people show up for ISU games?

Thoughts?
 

IndyTreeFan

The Nicks Level
Supporter
IndyTree,

I guess my point is............. I don't understand how the Terre Haute North/Terre Haute South game can attract 8500 fans, but only 4100 people show up for ISU games?

Thoughts?
That's a fairly easy one. It's a two part answer. First, the people of Terre Haute feel a connection to those teams. They are part of the community. ISU needs to do so much more work in this area so that people feel that connection to ISU basketball. That effort has been non-existent for decades. My son is a die-hard, 13 year-old ISU NUT. He knows that they lose a lot. He knows that other schools win a lot. So why is he a fan? Because, through some good fortune and serious fan-ness, he's gotten to know many of the guys on the team. My son considers them friends. He wants his friends to do well. He will go see his friends play. Win or lose doesn't matter that much. It's his guys.

The second part of the answer is this - North and South are basically winning programs. If neither of those teams had had a winning season in the last 10 years, you wouldn't draw 8500 to the game. Both teams, year in and year out, have a pretty decent shot at making some noise at some point in the season. People will go see that. Particularly in Terre Haute, people want to support a winner. Once again, it's hard to go watch a team lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose and lose...get my point?

I have no doubt that if 8000 people were at all of our home games, we'd win more of them. Homecourt advantage DOES count for something. But the time has long since passed when you can realistically blame the people of TH for shunning the Sycamores. I grew up in TH, went to ISU, and still go to the games, so I feel that I have some idea of what I'm talking about. I wish we didn't have to keep having this discussion every stinkin' year!!!!
 

TJames

The JSW Level
connecting to the terre haute community

i have heard from people in the isu athletic department that they have tried, but to no avail, to get a foot into the vigo county school system and set up programs where athletes from the school could meet and work with kids. they have reportedly been stopped from doing that by vcsc officials.

when i worked at isu, we used to do stuff with the schools all the time. we had athletes helping tutor students, we gave away tickets for games to kids and other such things (figuring that if the kids came, their parents and families would hopefully follow). i dont know what's happened in the intervening years, however.

for some reason, there is a major disconnect when it comes to some city and county officials and indiana state university. maybe dr. bradley can fix that.
 

IndyTreeFan

The Nicks Level
Supporter
i have heard from people in the isu athletic department that they have tried, but to no avail, to get a foot into the vigo county school system and set up programs where athletes from the school could meet and work with kids. they have reportedly been stopped from doing that by vcsc officials.

when i worked at isu, we used to do stuff with the schools all the time. we had athletes helping tutor students, we gave away tickets for games to kids and other such things (figuring that if the kids came, their parents and families would hopefully follow). i dont know what's happened in the intervening years, however.

for some reason, there is a major disconnect when it comes to some city and county officials and indiana state university. maybe dr. bradley can fix that.
Jeff Raissle, a teacher at Sarah Scott Middle School, set up a program at his school a few years back for the ISU basketball team to come out and meet the students. It was a hit at the school. Plus, something really neat happened - one of the kids came up to David Moss after the program and told David about his game that was coming up the next night. David told the kid he'd try to come and see it. And he did. That kid thought David hung the moon after that. You cannot BUY publicity like that, and that kid was well on his way to being a HUGE ISU fan. Not to mention that all the kids saw a "big time" basketball player like David would come to see their game. It was beautiful.

So, I don't buy the "they won't let us do it" story. That's a cop out. Perhaps the athletic department could use some of their alums with strong ties inside the administration of the school system to get something done. If it went down as usual, ISU probably proposed something, VCSC said the timing didn't work, and ISU said, "Fine, they obviously don't want us." There are ways to get things done. I just don't think ISU (or the rest of the Terre Haute community, for that matter) tries very hard.
 

SydCamore

The Captain Level
I wouldn't be surprised if the VCSC is indeed shutting out ISU. The VCSC is backwards in my opinion.
 

TJames

The JSW Level
i agree on some levels....

i will say this....when i worked at isu, we had an athletics marketing person....and i ended up doing a lot of things (coming up with ideas and working them through) with the right people....the marketing person, who shall remain nameless, was supposed to do stuff....but she would come up with excuses why it couldnt be done....so i did them...made them work...had some success with them...and then she got mad because i was supposeedly overstepping my bounds from my duties in sports information....

so, yes, i agree...you have to work to make the ideas come together....i have to think that john sherman and his people are trying though...maybe some griping from fans to the school system....go to mr. tanoos and work something out.....would be good....
 

treefromafar

The Sycamore Level
the city and university sure must have changed a lot since i quit working at isu in 1997. i grew up in terre haute. the city has had a large and thriving african-american community for as long as i can remember. my old neighborhood on the northside was predominantly african-american. as for isu not having many african-american students, they have always drawn a lot of kids from the inner cities of indy, gary, fort wayne, chicago, detroit, st. louis and cincinnati.
My father lives in Terre Haute, and has off and on for most of his 67 years of life, so I am pretty familiar with the diversity in Terre Haute. However, I would be willing to bet the AA population percentage both at ISU and in Terre Haute is in the low teens, maybe 15%. I would not call that a large community. Having said that, that is only one factor. The larger, more pressing factor, is the budget the whole department works under compared to other valley foes. That is why you see people posting on here attendance figures. It's like I said, chicken or the egg. We need more revenue, ie people in the seats, to compete better, and we need to compete better to get more revenue, ie people in the seats.
 

bent20

The Odum Level
IndyTree,
I guess my point is............. I don't understand how the Terre Haute North/Terre Haute South game can attract 8500 fans, but only 4100 people show up for ISU games?

Thoughts?
I agree that it has a lot to do with the fact that North and South win more than they lose. Plus, you have people in town going to the games because their children go there or went there, but those families may not have attended ISU. I'm a TH South and ISU grad, but I don't live in Terre Haute. I care a lot more about what the Sycamores do because their success will be recognized outside the state. Having said that, I do think it's great when the Wabash Valley high school teams do well.

Those attendance numbers for the the HS games prove what Indiana State could achieve. We could have an average attendance around 8,000 as Indytreefan suggests. The team has to be successful. Just look at those yearly attendance figures. The numbers went up dramatically in the late 70s and late 90s when our teams were really good. The Lady Sycamores even get good attendance when they do well.

There is the potential to draw even more fans. I know a lot of people who've moved to other areas and become fans of the local teams. I live in Davenport, Iowa, and cheer on the Hawkeyes in football because they're nearby, I know some alums and above all, they're successful.
 

Daveinth

The Wade Level
Supporter
The last time I posted anything like this I was accused of being negative of the entire program. But I will post these items again. First off Having Lived in Terre Haute all my life (except when I was in the military for 4 years) so I think I pretty much have a grip on Terre Haute. First off when we did have a sell out this year it was because of one company this accelerates your numbers. The Unemployment rate in Terre Haute is at all time highs. Now as has been publicized we have only had seven winning seasons in the past 30. How can you demand $12.00 (and higher if you want) for a team you are sure probably won’t compete. In the long run you will make more money if you sell your tickets for half the price of the normal better to have someone in the seat than to let the seat go empty as well you will have the fans more interested in coming out .
Now it’s been mentioned the numbers that come out to watch North Vs South. Again I will look at the economic factors the costs of going to these games is about half the price, you have a rivalry game and you get to watch 2 basketball games.
One cannot blame the city of Terre Haute for the lack of attendance when you look at the number of students who fail to come to the games ( AND THEY GET IN FREE). An average game we are lucky to have 50 students in attendance. In my opinion it starts with the lack of support on campus. Now where my season tickets are located I have seen these Ushers who work at Hulman Center Chase kids who sit in seats other than the "Student Section”. the problems at ISU goes further than the city , the African American culture , it stems from too many of the GOOD OLE BOYS running the program similar to the way the City Of Terre Haute is run.
 
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