MEN'S BASKETBALL: Ball State looking for fifth straight win
Former member of BSU staff could give SIUE advantage
Since the beginning of the season, coach Billy Taylor preached the importance of execution on Ball State's performance.
In Saturday's game against Tennessee-Martin University, Ball State showed its potential when the team executed on both ends on the floor.
Ball State torched Tennessee-Martin for 46 points in the second half on 72 percent (18-of-25) shooting. The Cardinals used dribble penetration and created turnovers to free up easy shots down the final stretch.
While Ball State executed arguably its best half of the season, a familiar face on the sideline will require an equally sharp performance Tuesday at SIU-Edwardsville University.
Former Ball State Director of Basketball Operations Matt Laur is now an assistant coach on the SIU-Edwardsville bench. He worked with Taylor and his coaching staff during the 2008-09 season.
"He's got a familiarity with our system, with our players and with our style of play." Taylor said. "That's certainly an advantage to them. But we go against each other every day in practice. Nobody knows us better than us. So we want our guys to execute regardless if your opponent knows who you are or what place you're in. You still need to go out and execute to the best of your ability."
After playing the Cougars last season, the Cardinals also know what to expect.
Sophomore forward Matt Kamieniecki said SIU-Edwardsville is a pressing team and speeds up the tempo of the game. Against other teams who press, such as IUPUI, Ball State showed earlier in the season it's comfortable in a transition game. Kamieniecki said the team is comfortable no matter what type of game Tuesday turns into.
"We want to try and break the press and get up and down the court," he said. "But at the same time, we want to be able to execute in the half court as well."
When teams know their opponent's sets and tendencies, the physical and athletic advantage often shines through. Taylor said his team has that, but SIU-Edwardsville is a much deeper team than last season.
SIU-Edwardsville's top scorer Mark Yelovich didn't play in Ball State's 76-46 win last year. Taylor said Yelovich's average of 13.4 points per game along with a junior college transfer Jerome Jones's average of 12.0 points per game provide a scoring punch that wasn't there last season.
Ball State enters the game on a four-game winning streak and a record of 4-2. The team looks better on paper than the 1-5 SIU-Edwardsville squad, but Kamieniecki said Ball State doesn't expect a rollover-type game.
"We're just trying to come out with the same mentality as any other game," Kamieniecki said. "It doesn't matter if it's SIU-Edwardsville or someone like Arizona who we played at the beginning of the year. We just want to come out with the mentality that we're going to play our best and try and get the win."