Indiana State University basketball is arguably one of the most prestigious mid-major programs in all of college basketball. The program has been home to two of the biggest names in college basketball history; Wooden & Bird. John Wooden coached at the University (then named Indiana’s Teachers College) from 1946-1948 and Larry Bird as we all know, led the Sycamores to the NCAA title game in 1979, falling short to Michigan State.
The Sycamores are currently lead by head coach, Greg Lansing. Lansing is second on the all time wins list at Indiana State. He expects a lot out of his players and gets results. He has lead the Sycamores to two NIT appearances, an MVC title and a tournament bid in 2011. Also, Greg is a generous guy who agreed to participate in an interview with Nerd Jock Blog. We are honored and humbled that he agreed to speak with us.
NJB: Earlier this year you took over sole possession of 2nd place on the all time win list at Indiana State, passing Royce Waltman and right behind all time Sycamore legend, Duane Klueh. Can you elaborate on that? What does it mean to you?
Lansing: Its humbling and an honor to be mentioned with those two great coaches and men. They have both touched my life deeply on and off the court. If I can be half the man and coach that those two were/are, I’d consider myself to be very fortunate.
NJB: The MVC plays top class basketball. Over the past few years the geography has changed a bit with Wichita State and Creighton leaving. How do you feel the addition of Loyala Chicago and Valparaiso have impacted recruiting and the perception of the league nationally?
Lansing: I hated to lose both Wichita and Creighton, my first few years, we were all competing at a high level with each other. Those were all high profile games in great atmospheres. After they left, I felt the additions of Loyola and Valpo were very smart and really good additions. The league didn’t lose a beat, Loyola goes to the Final Four. Valley teams have had tremendous success in post season tournaments.
NJB: You played a key role in recruiting some major talent over the years, specifically Nate Green. Would you say he was one of the most talented players you’ve ever recruited? Who have you recruited that didn’t quite pan out like you envisioned?
Lansing: I have had the good fortune to recruit a lot of good players here and even better people. We’ve always tried to recruit high character type of guys that would represent Indiana State and Terre Haute in a first class manor. Nate is right there at the top. I’ve always said Nate is right there as best all time here right after Larry and Carl Nicks. I think Jake Odum is right there after that. I can’t speak for some of the great players in the past like Coach Klueh, Butch Wade and Jerry Newsom because it was a different time…I’ve had the honor of meeting and becoming friends with all those men and they have been terrific to me.
NJB: You’ve coached the Sycamores to some major victories over the years. What is the most memorable and why?
Lansing:We’ve had lots of great wins in my time here. Making the NCAA Tourney and two NIT’s is something that ranks up on top of the league. I look back at the Valley Tourney we won and just remember how happy it made me feel to see the guys celebrating that accomplishment. We’ve beaten as many ranked teams as anyone in the Valley in our tenure. Won at IU, at Notre Dame, at Vandy. I have many wonderful memories of wins.
NJB: Beating IU the way you guys did last season at Assembly Hall had to feel amazing. Also, during the course of the game did you realize you were breaking the single game three point record at IU?
Lansing: While we were beating IU in such convincing fashion, I would say I wasn’t enjoying it. I just wanted the clock to keep moving so we could get the win. That was something special. Beating them so bad as well as my Dad sitting on the end of our bench during that game. I know how big of a win that was for our fans so that is special as well. I take it very personally how the people of our community feel about our teams, on and off the floor. I’ve always said, I want our community, fans and friends to celebrate our wins and be upset when we lose.
NJB: Next week, Cooper Neese and Christian Williams become eligible to play. I’m sure you’re excited to get them into the rotation. How do you feel they will benefit your squad and what challenges to you face adding them into the mix?
Lansing: I’m really excited about Christian and Cooper and how they can help our team. They are very good players and good teammates that have had to sit and watch for a long time. That’s not easy. They have helped us a lot in practiced, worked very hard to get better and done the right things away from the court. I think we have a chance to be pretty darn good. And we have those two as well as some other really good players coming back the following year. That group along with a tremendous recruiting class bodes well for our future.
NJB: What player has surprised you the most this season?
Lansing: I wouldn’t say anyone has surprised me more than the other. I’ll say we have a hard working group of guys and the production of the hardest working ones is obvious. There’s a reason why.
NJB: Every year it seems harder and harder to get games against the power conferences scheduled. Do you think the trend of non-conference tournaments being the only way to face these teams will continue? Why has it become so difficult?
Lansing: Yah. Scheduling is by far the worst part of the job. Throwing the Hulman Center reconstruction in there hasn’t made it any easier but that will be a good thing for all of us in the future. You can’t get power 5 teams to come here. Virtually next to impossible. Have to get very lucky. We’ve done a GREAT job getting in ESPN and other MTE’s (multi-team event). Until the last two years, we have done well. The Valley mandates we get in those and we try to get in good ones. We have always scheduled very difficult here and always will. We haven’t gotten buy games previously in our tenure so it’s been even harder to get home games. We have had the least home games of any Valley team. Maybe has hurt our overall record but we like playing a tough schedule to get ready for the Valley schedule.
NJB: I no longer live in Terre Haute, but love the fact I can watch nearly every game online via ESPN3 and ESPN+. Do you feel this exposure has helped with recruiting?
Lansing: The Valley staff has been diligent about the leagues TV schedule. Our fans can see every game we play. I know my folks love it.
NJB: My family is full of loyal Sycamore fans and we have season tickets every year. That being said, attendance at the Hulman Center is always pretty sad frankly. Why do you think that is? Because, boy when that place is packed and loud it’s intoxicating!
Lansing: I’ve been here a 16 years over two different tenures . I’ve always said we have awesome fans, we just need more of them. We can make all kinds of excuses about our attendance. We are going to control what we can and let the rest take care of itself. We try to recruit high character guys, be very involved in the community, play hard and in an enjoyable way for our fans.
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