#140 Ball State Men's Basketball Preview

Ball State Cardinals

Overall Rank: #140
Conference Rank: #4 Mid-American
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2010-11: 19-13, 10-6
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Billy Taylor (54-69 at Ball State, 135-138 overall)

Ball State finished second in the MAC West last year and it should be a two horse race again between the Cardinals and Western Michigan. However, the power in the Mid-American Conference is still in the East and it will take a surprising effort for Ball State to surpass some of the more traditional powers in the conference. One reason for optimism is Randy Davis. The 5-11 senior has turned into one of the better point guards in the MAC and finished last season averaging 5.0 assists and 2.7 turnovers. He is also a solid scorer who can attack the basket and relatively consistently knock down the long ball.

Who’s Out:
The only significant loss is forward Malik Perry. His absence will not hurt too much in the scoring column, but it does leave the Cardinals with a hole at the small forward position. Perry was never a threat to shoot from outside, but he did average 6.4 points per game and ranked second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per contest. Ball State can now either play small and suffer on the boards, or play big and lack depth up front. The decision may well depend on the competition, but it will also depend on whether or not the newcomers are ready to play some quality minutes.

Who’s In:
Tyler Koch, a transfer from Wright State, could step right into Perry’s old spot. He rarely played at Wright State as a freshman mostly due to injuries, but it is unlikely that he can work his way into a starting role this year. Zeke Chapman is too small to fill that role as well, but he could emerge as a quality scorer by the time his collegiate days are over at Ball State. It is Aaron Adeoye, a 6-6, 230 pound freshman, that fits best into what this Ball State team needs. He can spend some time at the three or four spot and that would go a long way in helping the team’s frontcourt depth and options on both ends of the floor.

Who to Watch:
The frontcourt could start Chris Bond, Matt Kamieniecki and Jarrod Jones, but that would leave very, very little depth. The only other experienced player who could play the four or five spot is Zach Fields and he averaged a mere 3.3 minutes in a dozen games last year. Bond is a strong rebounder for a 6-4 small forward and he should only get better now that he is a sophomore. Coming off of a year in which he averaged 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, it may be hard to keep Bond out of the starting five. If he is, the sixth man of the year award is his to lose. At 6-7 and 210 pounds, Kamieniecki has more size and girth. He has less experience than Bond, but his size could be the difference. Jones is the star of the frontcourt. A year ago he led the Cardinals with 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds. He is the star of this team and a very efficient interior scorer. When Ball State takes the time to work through Jones in the paint, the offense is very efficient.

Final Projection:
With Davis feeding the ball into Jones, Ball State just needs a couple scorers in the backcourt to make a serious run at a MAC title. Jauwan Scaife and Jesse Berry are the two most effective options. Scaife is a 6-2 junior who can hit the outside shot and do a decent job of attacking the basket. Berry had a fine freshman campaign and proved to be a capable scorer. The problem is neither of those two are quality rebounders and that will cause a problem. Tyrae Robinson and Pierre Sneed are a little better on the glass, but are not as effective of scorers as Scaife and Berry. That leaves Coach Billy Taylor with a few issues to work out, but there are plenty of options and as long as Davis and Jones continue to play well, there is no reason Ball State should not win the West.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Randy Davis, Senior, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Jesse Berry, Sophomore, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Jauwan Scaife, Junior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Matt Kamieniecki, Sophomore, Forward, 2.9 points per game
Jarrod Jones, Senior, Forward, 14.7 points per game

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