No news is good news for McKenna, Sycamores

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Jason Svoboda

The Bird Level
TERRE HAUTE ? Aside from the verbal commitment from Chicago?s Carl Richard Jr. all has been quiet on the Indiana State men?s basketball front this summer.

No new injuries. No trouble. No defections. No turmoil. And for the first time in a few seasons, no question of the future direction of the team.

And that?s no problem for new ISU coach Kevin McKenna.

A quiet summer is the best case scenario for any new coach. Other than the usual acclimation process anyone has at a new job, McKenna has had few distractions to keep his focus from moving the Sycamores out of the Missouri Valley Conference also-rans and into contending status.

?It?s been a good summer. The guys in summer school had a good year academically, our freshmen did well in the class room, everything seems to be falling into place just fine,? McKenna said. ?If everyone comes back and is conditioned properly, we?ll be in good shape on Oct. 12.?

McKenna noted that incoming freshmen Lamar Lee, Isiah Martin, Jordan Printy and Aaron Carter have fit in quickly with offseason lifting and workouts

?It?s been a while since we?ve seen all the guys in one place, but yeah, they kind of just fell in line with the rest of the guys as far as workouts go,? McKenna said.

McKenna noted that center Brant Leitnaker is recovering on schedule from a foot injury he suffered at the end of the regular season. McKenna also singled out praise for senior point guard Gabe Moore, who has stayed in Terre Haute this summer to maintain his workout regimen.

Once the July recruiting period ended, the main task of the basketball staff has been scheduling. McKenna noted that there are one to two slots still to be finalized in the schedule.

One home game confirmed is a visit from Bowling Green. So far, Ball State, IPFW, Northern Illinois and Oakland City comprise the rest of the home schedule, but McKenna would like more. ISU is slated to play Purdue, Tulane, Butler, Miami of Ohio and a Bracket Buster game on the road.

The schedule gaps are evidence that ISU has finally suffered the scheduling blues that have afflicted other Valley schools. Unlike the last three seasons where a visit from Indiana or Purdue was on the schedule or confirmed for a future season, there are no marquee names floating about at the present.

?This is more like it as far as Valley scheduling goes,? said McKenna with a touch of regret. ?And we?re not the only ones. I know [Creighton coach] Dana [Altman] still needs two games and so do a couple of others. We?re not there yet as far as our schedule, but we take scheduling as seriously as we do recruiting. It?s important for us to maintain a competitive home-and-away balance and that?s what we?re shooting for.?

The Valley is likely to release its conference schedules to the schools this week with a public announcement later.

With no international trip to keep the Sycamores occupied like last September?s Canada trip, the August and September wait can be the worst time for both players and coaches. McKenna is anxious to move beyond that lull period and get going.

?I?m excited about it. I can?t wait. It?s been five weeks since we?ve seen them all. We feel like we?re ready to get going,? he said.

URL: Terre Haute Tribune Star