Busting Brackets

Indiana State Men's Basketball will have to re-invent itself

The only thing constant in this world is change. This old adage runs so true when it comes to the immediate future of Indiana State men's basketball. As the Sycamores became a quirky fan-favorite during their recent NIT run, the entire program needs to regroup and rebuild itself in order to stay relevant in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Indiana State v Seton Hall
Indiana State v Seton Hall / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The 2023-24 Indiana State Sycamores men's basketball program captured the imagination of college hoops fans all across the country with their recent March Madness efforts to stay relevant in the basketball universe. Despite a 32-7 season record and a Missouri Valley Conference title this season, the Sycamores felt the sting of an NCAA selection committee snub and settled in for a run in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT.)

Indiana State captured the hearts and minds of basketball fans all across the nation all the way through their NIT final loss to Seton Hall 79-77 last week. And then, the wheels came off the Sycamore bandwagon and this great men's hoops program is staring into the abyss known as a turbulent off-season.

College basketball coaches are notorious for moving on as soon as the final buzzer sounds each season and Indiana State has yet to recover from the shock wave of head coach Josh Schertz leaving Terre Haute, Indiana for supposedly greener pastures in St. Louis as he was recently announced as the new head coach of the St. Louis Billikens. Within a few days, the entire Indiana State starting lineup announced that they were entering the NCAA transfer portal.

While the end of the basketball season does herald an automatic opening of the transfer portal to all NCAA Division I programs, the loss of Josh Schertz to the Big East heralded a rush to the Sycamore life boats for no less than eight Indiana State players including the five starters of Jayson Kent, Robbie Avila, Julian Larry, Ryan Conwell an Isaiah Swope.

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The potential loss of starting center and internet sensation Robbie Avila could be a massive blow to the future of the Indiana State program. Avila is a 6'10" sophomore with two more years of NCAA eligibility and had a career season with an average of 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game this year and shot 54% from the floor and 33.7% from outside the three-point arc. More importantly, Avila, affectionately known as "Larry Nerd" or "Cream Abdul-Jabbar" was the driving force behind the Sycamores' success this season and his pending transfer already is sending shock waves around southwestern Indiana.

Interesting enough, while eight Indiana State players have entered the transfer portal, a number of St. Louis University (SLU) players have done the same with an incoming head coach in Josh Schertz arriving. With the growing tendency of players to follow their coaches to new college programs at a breakneck pace, it will not come as a surprise to fans and pundits of college hoops alike that Robbie Avila and company will make their way to the Gateway Arch as the SLU Billikens look to regain a sense of urgency in the Big East Conference next season.