Josh Blessing

Only four games into the season, one thing is certain about Ball State. Coach Billy Taylor will continue to use a full rotation of players until he finds the best fit for the Cardinals' starting lineup.

In the first couple of games Taylor has used nine to 10 different players by rotating them into roles they're not accustomed to. That will continue into tonight's matchup against Texas Southern University.

Taylor said these early non-conference games give him and the coaching staff a chance to play with the lineup a bit and see who the best options are.

"That's why we play these games," Taylor said. "They give us an opportunity to play deeper into the rotation. It's an opportunity for guys to prove what they can do to help our team."

Ball State (2-2) has switched up its starting lineup several times in it's first four games. Taylor said once sophomore guard Tyrae Robinson returns to the lineup that will add another player to the mix.

Taylor said the mass rotation will continue until Mid-American Conference play begins and then it will be cut down to about eight players. The number will be lowered even more once MAC Tournament time rolls around.

Until then guard junior Jauwan Scaife, who's adjusting to coming off the bench the last two games after starting the first two, said he and the rest of the team have no problem with what Taylor is doing with the lineups. s

Scaife said the guys don't always know why Taylor does what he does, but he trusts everything will work out come tournament time.

"We believe in what coach Taylor is doing and what he's trying to do," Scaife said. "Whatever he does, it will work out for the best and we'll just go with the flow of things."

Scaife is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game. Senior forward Jarrod Jones leads the Cardinals and the MAC in scoring, averaging over 20 points per game along with 8.5 rebounds.

A key to beating the Tigers will come down to the Cardinals ability to penetrate the 2-3 zone.

Ball State faced a 2-3 zone several times against Calumet College on Sunday night, but it wasn't for a whole game like they could see tonight.

Taylor said the best way for his team to beat the Tigers is to get the ball into Jones' hands.

"We've got to be able to get our interior touches to Jarrod within our zone offense," Taylor said. "[We can't] make it a perimeter jump shooting battle."

Along with getting the ball to Jones in the paint, the Cardinals will have to play physical with the Tigers.

Texas Southern has eight players listed at 6 feet 6 inches or taller. Taylor said Ball State will need to be physical on the boards.

"[Rebounding] is definitely a concern of mine just with their length and ability to go get the basketball," he said. "We're going to have to be disciplined."