What was learned: Ball State men's basketball win over Saint Francis
Ball State men's basketball handily beat NAIA opponent Saint Francis (Ind.) in its sole exhibition game of the season.
While the 91-67 victory won't count in the final standings, it gave Ball State a chance to see what it can do in real-game situations.
"I'm glad we played it," he said. "I thought our guys approached it the right way, so I'm pleased with the outcome."
Here's what was learned after the exhibition game:
Outside shooting shouldn't be a problem
Ball State has no shortage of offensive weapons.
Ten out of the 11 Cardinals who saw action finished with a basket and seven of them hit at least one 3-pointer. Junior Jontrell Walker led the way for Ball State in terms of points scored (14) and 3-point shooting (3-4).
While Ball State dominated the shooting behind the arc early, hitting 9-17 as a unit in the first half, it made just three combined 3-pointers in the second half.
"In the first half, some of our shots were quick and we made them because of the way they were playing, I think we were able to get looks from three," Whitford said. "In the second half, they adjusted to try and take those away and that's why we went inside a lot more."
Down low, Ball State finished with 38 points in the paint, 10 of which came off of fast break opportunities.
Need a 'true' big man
Both forwards, sophomore Tahjai Teague and freshman Zach Gunn finished with double-doubles in the contest.
While the two played well in the exhibition, there were times when the post play of the Cardinals struggled to finish offensively and defend some of Saint Francis' undersized players.
That might no quickly be resolved, however, because Whitford says All-MAC Defensive team selection Trey Moses has had four practices and has the potential to play in the next few games, maybe even against Dayton.
"It's going to be a big difference and there's going to be a whole other learning curve when he gets back in there," Whitford said. "Right now, we're not near as impactful in the post as we will be with him."
Still, Teague and Gunn combined for 23 of Ball State's 36 rebounds on the night and provide depth down low for the Cardinals moving forward.
New guys proved their worth
Gunn wasn't the only newcomer that proved himself on the court Monday night.
Freshman Ishmael El-Amin and junior Jontrell Walker, who sat out last season due to transfer rules, stepped up on both sides of the ball for Ball State. Even freshman Blake Huggins, who saw just three minutes late in the game, finished with 5 points and a block.
"I feel like they came in and did what they did well," junior guard Tayler Persons said. "Jontrell is a scorer ... Ish[mael] ran the team when he had to. Zach came in and played really tough and Blake came in at the end and proved that he can play a little bit.
"You've just got to get these guys minutes in front of the a crowd."
Walker led Ball State offensively, adding two rebounds and two steals to his 14-point night. El-Amin, while he had two turnovers, finished with eight points and a team-leading two blocks. Gunn, who is Hamilton Southeastern's all-time leading rebounder, pulled in 11 boards during his 12-point night.
Defense played well, but wants to improve
Defensively, Ball State managed Saint Francis throughout the first half, giving up just 27 points and limiting the Cougars to a 33 percent shooting percentage.
In the second half, however, Saint Francis ran with four guards, spreading out its offensive and hitting eight of its first 10 3-point attempts.
"If we had to give [our defense] a grade, I'd say about a C," Teague said. "We've got to play defense better than that. They hit too many threes, we had too many fouls, we were in the double bonus early, so we just have to play better defense."
Ball State, which finished with 15 personal fouls, added four blocks and 11 steals in the 24-point victory.
The Cardinals return to action to start their regular season on Nov. 10 at the University of Dayton.
Contact men's basketball reporter Robby General with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rgeneraljr