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Deep rotation keeps Redbirds rested

Deep rotation keeps Redbirds rested

ISU hosts Phoenix looking to build on consecutive wins

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NORMAL - Ronnie Carlwell knows he can't relax during a game because he never knows when Illinois State basketball coach Porter Moser is going to call his number.

But the 6-foot-11 center knows he can rest easy when he comes out of the game.

"We're playing a lot of guys and that helps our defensive intensity," said Carlwell ahead of today's 4:05 nonconference game against Wisconsin-Green Bay at Redbird Arena. "Coach tells us to go in and play as hard as we can.

"We know we can do that this year because we know we have guys coming in for us who will maintain the same level of intensity. You can go harder and not pace yourself. That wasn't always the case in past years."

ISU (3-1) will be looking for its third straight victory, while the Phoenix (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak in their last outing.

"We have to be on point defensively," said Moser. "They run a lot of different plays and they have a lot of counters to their offense. They are very similar to Northern Iowa.

"They are very physical, but they have some athletes. They like to push the ball up the court. We have to communicate. They set a lot of screens. We have to be down and ready. We can't rest because if we do we are going to be running into screens all night."

Moser likes the way the Redbirds, who are allowing opponent's only 55.8 points and 35.3 percent shooting, are rotating on defense.

"We're unselfish defensively," he said. "I think some people - when they think of unselfishness, they think of offense. Sometimes you can be selfish defensively by not rotating, by not putting ball pressure on. We have each other's backs. We have the mentality that it's five guys stopping the ball."

The key offensively for the Redbirds is to have a purpose.

"We just can't go through the motions," added Moser. "We always talk about screening a man, not a spot. We have to screen somebody. We can't just screen where we think a man is going to be.

"If you start running your offense without a purpose, it becomes exchanges instead of good actions. We need to have a much crisper purpose. If we miss shots, we miss shots."

Moser has been pleased, for the most part, with his team's shot selection despite its 42.2 shooting percentage.

"I haven't been pleased with our percentages, but I can live with that if we are going hard," he said. "I don't look at this team and say we have taken a number of bad shots. I don't feel like we've had anyone who is just forcing up shots or taking bad shots. We're just not making a lot of shots.

"We do have to make better decisions at times. There have been occasions where we were advancing the ball and things weren't quite open. We have to find that fine line between attacking, going up-tempo and making good decisions."

Freshman Mike Vandello, who left Tuesday's game with a sprained left ankle midway through the first half, will play. However, he may start the game on the bench in favor of Levi Dyer.

"I'm approaching it like he's never been hurt," said Moser of Vandello, who will wear a protective brace.

Moser seems to be settling into a 10-man rotation with Nedu Onyeuku, Brandon Holtz and Dyer getting the bulk of the minutes off the bench. Roberto Fortes and Dinma Odiakosa would be next in line.

"But I'm making sure all 14 guys are ready to play," added Moser. "Not all 14 guys are necessarily going to get in the game, but I want to make sure they are all ready if are called on.

"There's no one I'm not beyond putting in a game right now. I haven't felt like that in the past."

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