Cards explode onto national scene

Pair of upsets net Ball State No. 25 national ranking.

After knocking off the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the nation at the Maui Invitational, Ball State has earned its spot in the nation's Top 25, according to the latest ESPN/USA Today polls. Ball State squeaked into the No. 25 spot with 100 points, one less than Indiana University in the No. 24 spot.

For Ball State head coach Tim Buckley, the rankings don't matter that much.

"It doesn't matter to us," Buckley said. "Rankings are for the fans and the excitement of the game. All that matters is when you throw it up."

Buckley went on to later say with a laugh, "Jokingly, I say we should be No. 2 in the country."

Buckley doesn't foresee all of the ranking hype affecting his team too much.

"It won't affect the attitude at all," Buckley said. "I think that our guys are very humble, and all the polls are is nice recognition. If you ask our guys, we would rather be ranked at the end of the year."

Prior to the ESPN/USA Today poll released Sunday evening Senior Associate Athletics Director, Dick Falls, looked forward to the opportunity to be ranked.

"You like to be ranked," Falls said. "As a ranked basketball team you get respect. Hopefully we continue to play and produce the way we have been."

Before the rankings were released, Falls felt that the Maui Invite was a perfect opportunity for voters to get a feel for Ball State. He compared it to voting for the Heisman.

"Most people get to watch the Maui Invitational, because it's late enough," he said. "A lot of voters get to see that compared to the Heisman vote where a lot of the voters don't even get to see the players play."

Aside from the rankings, both Falls and Buckley were pleased that Ball State got the opportunity for some positive, free recognition.

"We are very happy for the university, administration, students, athletic program and basketball program," Buckley said. "This basketball showed what Ball State is about -- class, hard work and passion for what they do, and I think all the attention has brought that to the forefront," Buckley said.

"The prestige of beating No. 3 and No. 4 is a great accomplishment," Falls said. "I think it gives the institution recognition, and it gives the program recognition."

Falls and Buckley both mentioned that Ball State's performance in Maui will effect recruiting for the program.

Buckley said that while in Maui, several coaches of AAU high school teams were approaching him, asking the second-year coach to recruit their teams.

"(The tournament) really showed those coaches that our kids play with passion and respect the game," Buckley said.

"As we try to attract students, they might look at Ball State as an institution of choice instead of passing it by," Fall said. "Any recognition on the national basketball scene is going to help us recruit players nationally."

See Ball State's rank on the ESPN/USA Today's Coaches' Poll.


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