NORMAL — What kind of team is Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne?
Similar to the teams IPFW coach Dane Fife played for at Indiana University under legendary coach Bob Knight.
"You can tell he is trying to get his pedigree into this team in terms of playing hard-nosed, physical defense and motion offense," said Illinois State coach Porter Moser, whose squad faces the Mastodons at 7:05 tonight in a nonconference game at Redbird Arena.
ISU will be seeking its fourth straight victory, a feat it accomplished twice last season, in five games, while the Mastodons have a 2-4 mark.
"I've been impressed with how they guard and it will be a test for our defense to guard this kind of motion offense," added Moser of the Mastodons. "They run it very well."
Fife, three years removed from his playing career with the Hoosiers, is in his first year as a head coach after spending two seasons as an assistant for Mike Davis at Indiana. He is the youngest head coach in the Division I ranks at age 26. Fife was not available for comment Monday.
"They have guys (DeWitt Scott, Quintin Carouthers, Kyle Savely), who can really put up some numbers on you," said Moser.
The Mastodons' program has only been playing at the Division I level since 2001-02. Their losses have been to Loyola, Valparaiso, Michigan State and Toledo.
"They came out and played hard at Michigan State," said Moser of a 84-73 setback. "They weren't intimidated. They came out with a ton of confidence. They didn't look afraid. They jumped all over Michigan State early and led for most of the first half."
Moser said weakside rebounding is an area the Redbirds need to improve.
"If our post players are going to rotate because a guy drove by a guard, then the other guards have to rotate down, check off and get a rebound," he said. "We also need to do a better job of continuing to talk it out in transition.
"We practice scramble transition all the time. But, right now, we still have some younger guys who aren't getting it. We gave up nine points the other night on what I call H-O-R-S-E shots. Guys were wide open. We have to do a better job of locating guys."
ISU senior captain Neil Plank said the Redbirds also need to run their offense hard all the time.
"Sometimes we have a tendency not to cut as hard," he explained. "Once we get to the point where we are continually running our offense hard all the time, then we are going to make a big improvement."
Moser has been pleased with the team's post defense, which has helped ISU limit opponents to only 49.5 points and 32 percent shooting in four home games.
"I'm really confident in our post defense," said Moser. "It's probably one of the things I'm most confident in with our team right now.
"I think we have tremendous post defenders in Greg (Dilligard) and Ronnie (Carlwell). Greg is the best defender I've ever coached. He's long. He's active and he plays his tail off. He covers so much ground and he communicates well."
Not only did former ISU pitcher Neal Cotts produce for the Chicago White Sox in their run to the World Series championship, but he also produced Saturday at Redbird Arena.
Cotts raised $2,250 for Special Olympics Illinois by signing 450 pictures provided by The Pantagraph and ISU at $5 apiece.