Ball State basketball preview

#28 R.P.I. Ball State vs. #172 R.P.I. Virginia Tech: 

Virginia Tech men’s basketball travels 380 miles to Charleston, South Carolina to face the Cardinals of Ball State. And may St.Zachariah bless and intercede, as there is a lotta moving parts here… (see: below)…

Personally methinks that the Hokies should be the favorite here although they should NOT take Ball State lightly. As this is a (big) M.A.C. team “on the come” as the Brit’s on me late mum’s side were want to say. As you will read below… under coach Whitford, Ball State is something of a hooping David or a slingshot killer.

I, however, do recommend NOT nesting on these mid-major Cardinals if you are the Hokie-Bird here. As they have the look-n-feel of a nothing to L bird of prey. And let them get their quick-start talons into you in what figures to be a sparsely crowded late morning (11:45 AM) gym on ESPN2/ESPN3 at you very own upsetting peril. Though you wanna know who is gonna win; right? Read on, to find… out!

Ball State Head Coach: James Bryce Whitford: age=47, (73-88 overall and at Ball State).
Has a rep’ for: recruiting, (tirelessly) working, defending/rebounding, building, upsetting.
$296,083.oo (with a mere $10K kicker per year!)

A native of Madison, Wisconsin, youngling Whitford earned his start in college basketball as a student-manager at Wisconsin and graduated from the school in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He earned a master’s degree in sports studies from Miami in 1996. (i.e. he brought himself, up; may St.James bless!)

Whitford’s first professional coaching experience was with the Miami RedHawks men’s basketball program. Starting as an administrative assistant in 1994, he became an assistant coach in 1997 and advanced to top assistant in 1998.

In 2005 Whitford left Miami for Xavier, where he spent four seasons under head coach Sean Miller before following Miller to Arizona in April 2009. After his first two seasons at Arizona Whitford was promoted to associate head coach, a position he held for another two years before taking the head coaching position at Ball State in April 2013. Although Coach Whit’ was only 400-208 as an assistant coach and only went to 12 post-seasons in 19 campaigns including three Elite-8’s!

Their very own… Whit‘.

At Ball St. coach Whitford has been to two C.B.I. post-seasons (1st round and quarters) in the last three years. This after tallying 5 then 7 wins in his first two season respectively. However, since that rugged .200 win percentage start, he’s gone a very shiny .64o with 62 wins in his most recent three seasons.

Turning the proverbial corner indeed and Ball State might wanna lock him up if they do actually wanna keep him.

Over the past three years, B.S.U. has averaged more than 20 wins per season, won two division championships and knocked off a top-10 team ((No. 8 Notre Dame; Dec. 5, 2017) for the first time in 16 years. The Cardinals and Buffalo are the only teams to win at least 10 Mid-American Conference games in each of the past three seasons.

Coach Whitford’s coaching tree has already spawned one big whistle -and that’s always an encouraging sign- i.e. Billy Wright, Western Illinois.

Daddy Whitford married Amber Stocks, head coach of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky,
they have two sons, Liam and Spencer.

Cards at a glance:

  • 50th in 3-point shooting (44%).
  • 75th in FT-percentage (74%).
  • 129th in swats (3.4 bpg).
  • Everything else is mean, median, mode this year.
  • Though last year B.State was 28th best in Defensive Rebounding and 88th best on defense.
  • NO injuries reported. (“THX” @coach God).

Returning Starters=4

Ball State Strengths:

  • I’d say being named 1st-string all-Conference and the best playmaker in-conference counts. And so does one #2, Tayler Persons. Persons is a 6′3″, 196 lb. r-Sr. year bearded lead-G that the state of Indiana wishes they had, back. As this kid can flat out play that game overall and is no less than a fringe overseas Pro’ as I type. As whenever you start dropping all-time “only” bombs as program history goes? You, good Sir, are doing something(s)… right. As Tayler was only a two-time all-M.A.C. Second Team at Ball State after he joined the Cardinals as a transfer from Northern Kentucky, where he was only the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year in 2014-15. He has only started every game in his first two seasons at B.S.U. He is the only player in Ball State history to record 1,000 points and 300 assists in a two-year period and the only one with 500 points and 150 assists in a single season (2016-17). Yah; I’d say that counts and so does his 2-state titlist resume` (Indiana and North Carolina) in high school (plus Persons was a college football recruit (Qb) to boot). Now mix in a team-leading ~18 ppg with 5 boards, 4.5 dimes dropped (apg) and all that on 82% FT-shooting and a nearly lethal 45% long and you do see what I mean. This kid is one of the best kids in the M.A.C. right now and he might just be the best all-’round kid on the floor Thursday morning doing The Charleston knee-shuffling {sic: dance}. Though his flashy 19 1st-half points @Purdue must do more than his zero 2nd-half points @the same for the Cards to have a chance to shuffle Tech’s deck.
  • Ball State courts not less than five guys averaging right at five boards or more as this is indeed (actual) quality rebounding via committee.

    Bonus points are available for the Greg Brady blow-out look.
  • Seated on the said committee would be: r-Jr., 6′8″, 215 lb. P/F Tahjai Teague (15 ppg, 6 caroms and 50% 3-balls), 6′6″, 220 lb. r-Jr., K.J. Walton (14 ppg, with 5 rpg), rebounding leader (6 rpg on 11 ppg and 68% long-distance), 6′9″, 211 lb. r-Soph., Brachen Hazen and 6′7″, 217 lb., third-year Kyle Mallers chipping in with 7 ppg and nearly 5 rpg.
  • Lotta power-conference refuge Transfer-Talent(s) live here. As Arkansas, Missouri, Connecticut, and the aforementioned Nor.Kentucky all now run ball for Ball State.
  • And as you can see, this is not exactly a small-ball mid-Major; it is a usefully sized and pretty experienced mid-Major to boot.

Cardinals Weaknesses:

  • Well, NO easy/fun way to say this, so… last summer rather intriguing 6′9″, 198 lb. leaping/springy, 44% 3-ball range, and r-freshman Zach’ Hollywood took his own, life.
  • That’s a tough one sports fans, the toughest; and lest we forget, the Human Race is the swiftest race of them all… so Godspeed @the soul of poor Zach’.

As hoops goes…

  • combo’ G/F Sean Sellers graduated last year, though he was the only member of last years rotation to go. (8.8 ppg and some 3-point shooting on 58 makes).
  • B.S.U. strikes me as a very synergistic offensive fit. Truly; these guys look good running hoops together and they are fully bought into coach Whit’s work. Though I do wonder how they will do vs. a really deep, really athletic scoreboard terrorizing full-throttle rocket squad?

B.State Bench: (depth=4 to 6 deep)
Trey Moses checks in basically to block shots (2 bpg), rebound (3 rpg) and eat space (6′10″, 255 lbs., final year). And both he and his urban version of a Duck Dynasty beard look pretty hungry indeed. Ishmael El-Amin gives B.S.U. an all-Old-Testament looking pine-squad. As this is one loquacious, hand-sign flashing streety kid who can flat out, soar. Great hops here and if his newfound 44% from beyond the arc holds up? This is gonna be one really tough perimeter cover.

This Charleston Tourney is really all about ...what???

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Illationconclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of Cardinals who could start @Tech=1 maybe 2.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… Ball State is a deceptive .5oo team checking in at an early looking 1 up and 1 down and yet they are ranked not less than third best in the Mid-American Conference in all my pre-season magazines for a reason(s)…

That, and who did I really just see play G-Webb in the one-hole?

The first 25-minute merely so-so looking Hokie team?

Or the A.B.C. (always be closing) Tech Triumph?


Accordingly, the Gardner-Webb game really did not teach/tell me that much… I like/hope Alex-Walker is that much better. I hope J.Rob’ can (finally) figure out the leadership/dealership roll, I did like our D when we decided to finally play it in the final ~16 minutes give/take. Isaiah -double epic hoops name- Wilkins is an intriguing one… or is he a flash in the opening pan? Hill, Horne, and Outlaw all looked the same to me. Although we really only need them to be, steady; consistent. And Landers Nolley is your one-man X-factor. If/when he is actually, cleared; the whispers are alluring… regarding him in a word, here.

Beyond that… this is where we will really begin to learn, I.D., understand and expand upon what this 2018-2019 men’s hoops team really can -or cannot be- post (pardon the (bad) pun); post our Clarke bar being barred.

As I was really surprised to see the quality of this Charleston bracketology. There are several big(er) names here and yet none of ’em have gimmie or even an easy path to a big(er)-name Finals match-up. Quite the matchmaking for a seemingly lesser Tourney— so a tip of the cyber hat to the Charleston Classic suits is in order here.

the call

Anywho… really hope we do not forget to set the alarm clock for this one.

As you do not wanna hit the Alabama State or Saint Louis early wakeup call tournament snooze button on a Gestalt Theorist dream-team like Ball State— not even with a potential NC2A Tournament rematch with Alabama looming.

And although I do favor Buzz and Co. here… I’m not saying I’d bet my life on Buzz and Co. here, as we are playing some level or some measure of a post-season basketball team in round no.1. of the Charleston Classic.

Ball State is not some token walkover to help set the rest of the bracket up.

As these Card’s just gave no.22 Purdue a 4-shot fit.

(69% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=78, Ball State=65