IPFW up next for No. 15 Cards

Tonight two teams on the opposite ends of the college basketball spectrum will meet in Worthen Arena at 7 p.m.

Ball State (4-1) will come into the game nearly on top of the basketball world. The team was just recently named No. 15 in the country after tallying two convincing wins in the First Merchants Classic last weekend, one by a 21-point margin the other by 41 points.

IPFW (0-7) however, will come into tonight's game on what could be considered the bottom of the basketball world. After seven consecutive loses, including a 62-91 loss to the University of Michigan on Tuesday, IPFW's record isn't the only thing hurting for the Mastodons.

According to IPFW head coach, Doug Noll, two of his players are unable to play. Sophomore Jim Kessenich who is one of IPFW's tallest players standing at 6-10 has a broken foot. Ironically, Zach Reuter, a 6-8 freshman is out with the same injury.

"Those are things that happen in sports," Noll said.

The coach went on to explain that Kessenich's injury has especially hurt the team as his injury has hurt the team's size under the basket.

"It's been tough for us because now we are relying a lot on the perimeter," Noll said.

On top of everything plaguing IPFW, according to Noll, Ball State will "probably be better than anyone they've played so far."

"I've watched a couple of the games just briefly when they were in Maui," he said. "They are an extremely explosive team that gets up and down the court quickly."

"I know they are going to be all we can handle," Noll said.

Despite IPFW's seven-game losing streak and injuries, Ball State coach Tim Buckley isn't overlooking the Mastodons.

"I think they will come in here with a plan," Buckley said. "Last year's game wasn't decided until the last three minutes. They wouldn't go away."

"They had a 45-39 lead early in the second half, so they are going to come in here with some confidence."

Ball State ended up the victor in the team's meeting last year, 83-67.

For Buckley and his team, it's teams like IPFW who come with high expectations that he enjoys playing the most. "The most satisfying wins are the wins we get against teams that really want to beat us," Buckley said. "We just feel like everyone is going to be sharper, and each game is important to them so it will make for a bigger game for us also."

Buckley will be looking to fulfill his ultimate goal every time his team takes the floor - to get better. According to the second-year head coach, a good performance Thursday may get the ball rolling for the Cardinals match up with the Indiana Saturday.

"Every time we take the floor, we want to get better," Buckley said. "If we go out against IPFW and get better, it gives us a chance to get even better on Friday and then, to be even better on Saturday against Indiana."

If there is one thing Buckley admits, it's that his team needs work on its defense.

"At the end of last year we were as good of defensive team as there was in our conference and we want to get back to that level again," he said.


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