MEN'S BASKETBALL: Breakdown of Ball State vs. Kent State
Cardinals will face tough test against Golden Flashes' backcourt
Justin Greene emerged as one of the top post players in the Mid-American Conference last season. He was picked in Preseason All-MAC for the East division this year. He scores 15.9 points and pulls down 7.4 boards per contest. Not too shabby for a guy who hadn't played organized basketball until his freshman year in high school. Add Justin Manns, a 6-foot-11, 220 pound center to the mix, and the Cardinals will certainly have their hands full down low.
Jarrod Jones has cooled off a bit offensively the last couple games. However, he's still averaging almost a double-double at 15.7 points and almost nine rebounds. Jones has struggled offensively when he's up against a more physical type of player. So, if he's guarded by Greene, he could have trouble. The question is: will coach Billy Taylor match Jones with Greene, or will he put Jones on Manns and give up two inches for a less physical player?
Advantage – Cardinals – Jones is the closest to Manns' 6-foot-11 build. This plays into the Cardinals' favor. Malik Perry can handle a physical low-post player like Green. However, he'll be giving up four inches. It's unlikely that Taylor would give up seven inches to Manns to have Perry guard him, but crazier things have happened when it comes to Ball State basketball.
Rodriquez Sherman is one of the most dynamic players in the MAC. He's quick off the dribble and can get to the rim in a hurry. His game-winning dunk with 2.4 seconds left against Western Michigan earlier this season is a highlight worth replaying. He also averages 12.1 points per game while shooting .397 percent from three-point range. The rest of the backcourt isn't full of slouches either, as Carlton Guyton brings in 12 points while Michael Porrini adds 9.2 per contest.
The Cardinals' guards have proved that their shooting can get hot quick. Jauwan Scaife averages 11.6 points per game, Randy Davis with 10.2 and Jesse Berry adds 9.3. Berry has become the go-to-guy when the team need a three-pointer. He seems to have no limit to his range. If he does, it's at least five feet behind the arc. Davis has become Mr. Clutch down the stretch. He's 56-of-63 from the free throw line in the final five minutes this season.
Advantage – Golden Flashes – Speed isn't everything – but it surely helps. Ball State's guards will have to get back on defense to limit the speed of Sherman and others from driving in transition.
Randal Holt was mostly a negative factor the first half of the season. He has been playing the best basketball of his young career in the last month, setting a career high in points twice, getting more steals and reducing his turnover rate. That's why he's now getting starter minutes off the bench, averaging 8.8 points per game.
Against Morehead State, Taylor decided to start his defensive specialist, Pierre Sneed, and bring Berry off the bench. No one knows what he'll do this time around, but Berry gives Ball State an additional scoring option when he's on the court. Chris Bond and Tyrae Robinson have both come off the bench this season and provided quality minutes. Having Matt Kamieniecki back from an injury gives Taylor the option to rest his big men as well.
Advantage – Cardinals – Whether Taylor decides to start Sneed for defense or go with Berry for his shooting stroke, the Cardinals have plenty of young players coming off the bench who have provided sparks this season.