MEN'S BASKETBALL: Breakdown of Ball State vs. Western Michigan
Freshman players off the bench gives Ball State an edge
Ball State: Jarrod Jones has looked every bit worthy of his preseason All Mid-American Conference selection, especially over the past month. Jones is averaging 19.8 points and 10 rebounds along with four double-doubles the last seven games. He seems to be hitting his stride as MAC play begins — perfect timing for Cardinal fans.
Western Michigan: This week, Billy Taylor pointed out that the Broncos like to throw the ball inside to the low post. Flenard Whitfield is a big body underneath who gets a lot of touches. He's averaging 12.2 points and is someone Taylor said has a good mid-range jumper. He, along with Jones, earned preseason All-MAC honors.
Advantage - Cardinals – No team has been able to slow down Jones as of late. The Broncos will fill the lane with bodies to limit what Jones is able to do. When that happens, the players in the backcourt will be waiting with open arms from three-point land.
Ball State: Both Jesse Berry and Jauwan Scaife have looked explosive at times. Scaife averages 12 points per game, while both Berry and Randy Davis chip in 10 each. Davis has played very well against the Broncos in the past. He scored 21 points in the first matchup last season and 23 in the second -- just something to keep in mind.
Western Michigan: Demetrius Ward shoots well from three point land and is averaging 12.4 points per game. His big 6-foot-3 inch, 212 pound frame can drive into the lane – something that Ball State has struggled with recently. Keep an eye on him.
Advantage – Push – The Cardinals have shooters who can get hot quick, and if they do, Bronco defenders will be forced to leave the lane, giving Jones more room to work underneath. However, if Demetrius Ward can penetrate the lane Ball State could be in trouble. That's a big "if,"though.
Ball State: Depth is something that Billy Taylor has never really had in his lineup since coming to Ball State four years ago – until now. His bench is averaging 18.2 points per game. Chris Bond has quadrupled his playing time to over 20 minutes a game over the last six contests. He's averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Ball State will need continued contribution from him.
Western Michigan: Six different Broncos average at least eight points per game so far this season, one of them being Juwan Howard Jr., son of 17-year NBA veteran Juwan Howard. Coming off the bench Howard is averaging 9.2 points. Their bench averages 21.4 points per game. Therefore, they have some depth as well, especially with Howard as their sixth man.
Advantage – Ball State – Coach Taylor has too many players at his disposal. Bond and Tyrae Robinson are two players Taylor has turned to off the bench to create a spark, and it's worked so far. No reason why he wouldn't continue to utilize these two freshmen.