Head coach James Whitford is held back by Freshmen guard Francis Kiapway after his technical foul during the game against Buffalo on Feb. 4 at Worthen Arena. DN PHOTO ALLISON COFFIN
Whitford looks to eliminate offensive turnovers
For the third consecutive game, turnovers negatively affected the Ball State men's basketball team.
The Cardinals appeared to be overwhelmed during their 73-64 loss to the Akron Zips on Jan. 30, turning the ball over 18 times. Ball State has been unable to defeat Akron — at home or on the road — since March 8, 2004.
As head coach James Whitford looked down the stat sheet after the game, he noticed the turnover issue once more.
“We turned the ball over too much for the third game in a row,” Whitford said.
Ball State (13-8, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) has committed 62 turnovers in the past three contests. Whitford went without a point guard for the third consecutive game.
The first point guard off the bench was junior Naiel Smith who finished with a team-high four turnovers.
“The way Akron was playing us on defense was very high risk, high reward,” Whitford said. “They put us in a lot of scramble scenarios, and we didn’t make great decisions in that area.”
Akron outplayed Ball State from the free-throw line as well, shooting 11-15, while the Cardinals were held to only five attempts.
Senior forward Reggie McAdams of Akron finished the game with a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds for the 17-4 Zips. McAdams' 6-foot-6 and 215-pound frame outmatched the Cardinals in terms of size.
The Zips' roster boasts 10 players 6-foot-4 or above, and that size proved to be too much for the Cardinals at Worthen Arena.
“I thought the depth of their talent and the depth of their size overwhelmed us on the defensive end," Whitford said. “That to me was the difference in the game.”
Sophomore guard Jeremie Tyler had a season-high 18 points on 50 percent field-goal shooting. Tyler went 4-9 from 3-point distance as Ball State hit 12 3-pointers throughout the contest.
Senior forward Bo Calhoun finished with 15 points but was limited to four rebounds. Calhoun managed to go 6-9 from the field and 3-6 from behind the 3-point line.
“Overall, we shoot 51 percent and 48 percent from [the 3-point line]; [offense] wasn’t our problem,” Whitford said. “Three of the last four games, we have not defended to the level that we’re capable of.”
Whitford recollected on the team's earlier success when the Cardinals were at the top of the MAC in terms of defense.
He went on to admit his team has let the defensive numbers slide, and they have to get back to being that defensive team.
“I don’t have all the answers right now, but I have to come up with them because we have to get back to being the defensive team that we are capable of being,” Whitford said.
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's official website, Ball State is ranked No. 46 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 65.8 points per game. Statistically, Ball State has fallen behind MAC West Division leader Northern Illinois, as the Huskies allow 64.4 points per game.