The mens' basketball team huddles during the game against Bowling Green on Feb. 14 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO EMILY CUNNINGHAM
Overall inconsistency leads to 7-23 season for Ball State men's basketball
After losing to Bowling Green in the first round of the Mid-American Conference tournament, the Ball State men’s basketball season ended with a record of 7-23.
The Cardinals finished the year on a 17-game losing streak — the longest in program history — but according to statistician Ken Pomeroy's luck metric, Ball State was one of the unluckiest teams in the country.
The luck rating is determined by a team's actual winning percentage compared to what is expected based on game-by-game efficiency.
Out of 351 teams, only Vermont finished with a lower luck rating than Ball State.
The Cardinals started the year 7-6 overall and 2-0 in the MAC. The seven wins passed last season's win total of five, and Ball State sat in first place in the Western Division.
Despite its start, Ball State struggled to maintain a consistent starting lineup.
Cincinnati transfer Jeremiah Davis, who was projected as a starter to begin the season, missed nine weeks with a foot injury. Davis played in the final 19 games, but it took time for the redshirt junior to get acclimated to game speed again.
Freshman Jeremie Tyler was inserted into the starting lineup and averaged 12 points per game while shooting 42.9 percent from three.
But at the start of the second semester, Tyler found himself academically ineligible and missed the remainder of the season.
Ball State lost another guard when last season’s MAC Freshman of the Year Zavier Turner served a two-game suspension for an unknown reason. Turner came of the bench for the rest of the season, seeing a drop in points and assists.
After starting the first 16 games of the season, fifth-year senior Matt Kamieniecki was forced the sit out eight of the last 13 games due to a back injury.
The search for a permanent rotation led to the struggle of finding a consistent playing style on the court.
The Cardinals showed they could compete against the league's top teams, but bad starts often led to their downfall. Head coach James Whitford emphasized all season the importance of putting together a complete 40 minutes.
In the MAC tournament, Ball State trailed Bowling Green by 16 at halftime. After cutting the lead and getting within three late in the game, the Falcons pulled away and ended the Cardinals' season.
“[Our comeback is] the way I’m trying to get us to play consistently," Whitford said after the loss. “There’s no way you can short-cut the process.”
Next year, the Cardinals will return this year's MAC Freshman of the Year Sean Sellers, who led the conference freshmen in points at 12.0 per game.
Junior Bo Calhoun also showed he can be relied on when called upon, averaging 13.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in the last 14 games when Kamieniecki went down. Calhoun scored a career-high 30 points against Toledo on Feb. 28.
Sophomore Franko House improved his post play as well, averaging 11.9 points in conference play while shooting .539 percent.
Turner, another sophomore, will also return next season, along with Tyler and freshman Francis Kiapway.
Transfer Ryan Weber will be eligible to play, as well as incoming freshmen Tahjai Teague and Trey Moses.
"We put this season behind us, and we're going to get right back to work," Whitord said. "It’s going to be fun and exciting, and I’m looking forward to it."