Last year's Ball State men's basketball team did a lot of things right on their way to an 18-12 record. While head coach Tim Buckley sees these things as promising for the future, he also sees a lot of areas in which the Cardinals could improve this year.
The biggest of those areas is the team's assist-to-turnover ratio.
"We need to get better at taking care of the basketball and getting it to the right people," Buckley said.
Buckley is confident though that his players are up to the task and can do better in that area.
"I think that's an area we can build on with our defense and rebounding this year," Buckley said.
Rebounding is something that Ball State did well last year, averaging 5.4 more rebounds a game than their opponents.
"We would rather do better than the 5.4 Michigan State led the nation last year at plus 15," Buckley said, "That's something we want to do. We want to be an excellent rebounding team."
The Cardinals have to do it without Josh Murray, the team's second best rebounder last year. Murray transfered after last season and is no longer with the team. The loss of Murray does not worry Buckley.
"Rebounding is a team thing," Buckley said, "Something we always tell our players is, it is OK to be selfish when it comes to rebounding. So if we can get our guards to rebound better, we won't skip a beat in the way of rebounding."
Among the returning guards is senior Patrick Jackson. Jackson started all 30 games last year and led the Cardinals in minutes, steals and assists. In doing so, he earned high praise from his coach.
"Patrick is the consummate student-athlete. He is the kind of guy you want your son to become," Buckley said, "We asked him to do a lot last year, probably too much, and I think it affected certain areas of his play. But he was willing to accept that role, because he wanted us to be successful."
With a lot of depth at the guard position, Buckley sees Jackson's role on the team changing this season.
"This year we are not asking him to do as much, and I think he can be better in certain areas," Buckley said, "One of those areas we want him to do better in is scoring."
Another player that Buckley is going to look to for scoring is newcomer Chris Williams. The 6-3 junior guard sat out last year after transferring to Ball State from Loyola-Chicago.
"Chris Williams can make shots," Buckley said, "Not only can he get his own shot, he can get shots for teammates."
Buckley is looking for more than just points from Williams.
"Now what we are going to expect from him is a great defensive effort and a great rebounding effort," Buckley said.