#131 Ball State Men's Basketball 2019-2020 Preview

Ball State Cardinals
2019-2020 Overall Rank: #131
Conference Rank: #4 Mid-American
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Ball State has underperformed the last couple of seasons. The expectations were pretty high last year, but the Cardinals ended up with 16-17 record overall and won just six MAC games. Injuries played a part in that disappointing record, but Ball State ended up relying too heavily on now departed guard Taylor Persons. It will be interesting to see if others are able to step up now that Persons is gone or if the Cardinals will struggle to replace their top scorer.
2018-19 Record: 16-17, 6-12
2018-19 Postseason: None
Coach: James Whitford
Coach Record: 89-105 at Ball State, 89-105 overall
Key Departed Players:
Taylor Persons, Guard, 16.7 ppg
Trey Moses, Center, 8.5 ppg
Austin Nehls, Guard, 2.5 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Tahjai Teague, Senior, Forward, 13.4 ppg
K.J. Walton, Senior, Guard, 13.0 ppg
Kyle Mallers, Senior, Forward, 7.2 ppg
Ishmael El-Amin, Junior, Guard, 6.9 ppg
Brachen Hazen, Junior, Forward, 5.7 ppg
Zach Gunn, Junior, Forward, 5.4 ppg
Josh Thompson, Senior, Guard, 2.7 ppg
Blake Huggins, Sophomore, Center, 2.2 ppg
Key New Players:
Kani Acree, Guard/Forward , RS Freshman
Luke Bumbalough, Guard, Freshman
Jarron Coleman, Guard, RS Freshman
Ben Hendriks, Center, Freshman
Lucas Kroft, Guard, Freshman
Miryne Thomas, Forward, Sophomore, Transfer from Maryland Eastern Shore
This should be a deep team. Tahjai Teague and Kyle Mallers started in the frontcourt last season and Brachen Hazen and Zach Gunn are decent players who are ready to be more consistent as sophomores. Teague will be the star of the unit though after averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 2018-2019. The backcourt will rebuild around K.J Walton. Walton is not a shooter, but few players in the MAC attack the basket as effectively as the 6-3 junior. Ishmael El-Amin and Josh Thompson have had their moments as well and keeping El-Amin healthy will be extremely important. Perhaps more important will be the play of some of the newcomers. Luke Bumbalough, a finalist for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, could be the starting point guard from day one. Kani Acree, a 6-6 wing who redshirted last year, will be asked to pick up much of the scoring slack and Maryland-Eastern Shore transfer Miryne Thomas will need to at least provide some frontcourt depth. This group has a lot of questions to answer, but the pieces are there for a step in the right direction. That may not be enough to reach the NCAA Tournament, but reaching the CBI or CIT would be a successful campaign.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.1 (107th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.6 (183, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.0 (49, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.4 (54, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.1 (313, 10)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.5 (271, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.2 (189, 6)
Rebound Margin: 2.2 (111, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.9 (214, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.5 (309, 11)