Despite Saturday win, coach examines lineup

Another slow start against Akron forces coach to re-evaluate team.

Ball State marked its fifth-straight win Saturday, defeating Akron 78-66. Head coach Tim Buckley, however, wasn't very impressed with the win.

After the game Buckley said he would take a "hard look" at the starting lineup and assess its recent effectiveness.

As of late, one of the biggest criticisms of Ball State (12-5 overall, 4-1 Mid-American Conference) has been slow starts. The Cardinals encountered such a problem against Akron, shooting only 36.7 percent from the field in the first half and hitting only 11-30 from the field.

Aside from the first basket of the game, it wasn't until the five-minute mark in the first half that Ball State was able to take the lead from Akron. At one point the Cards trailed the Zips (4-13, 0-6) by seven points.

Buckley took his time, and took his hard look at the starting lineup. After doing so, he may be considering some changes.

"I have thought a lot about what we need to do to get better," he said. "I'm not very pleased with our starting of games but I am very pleased with our finishing of games."

When it came to mentioning names regarding lineup changes, Chris Williams was Buckley's most mentioned player. Williams went 2-10 from the field and 0-6 from three-point land against Akron.

"A key component of our basketball team is Chris Williams," Buckley said. "When Chris comes out and starts the way he did against Akron, it affects our entire basketball team.

"He was the guy I am probably looking at more so than anybody. At the same time he is also the kind of guy I can talk with about what he needs to do to be better.

"We are going to talk about those things - nothing is etched in stone - and see how practice goes the next couple of days."

When informed of what his coach had said, Williams reacted a bit surprised.

"He hasn't told me anything. I would have rather heard it from him than you guys," Williams said to members of the media. "I don't know anything about it."

"When you look at our games he has pretty much been the wild card," Buckley said. "If he's played well, we have played extremely well. If he hasn't, we have struggled at times.

"He is so critical to our basketball team in general, it's a matter of whether he comes off of the bench or starts the game."

Williams then took his turn to explain that he acknowledges, but doesn't understand, why his team plays in accordance to his shooting.

"We can't focus on me if I'm not shooting well," he said. "I have nothing to do with everybody's shooting. That's been the story though: If I'm not doing well it affects everybody's shooting."

Regardless of what changes take place, if any, other members of the team realize the slow starts are impeding team progress.

"We can't come out with bad starts like that, especially on the road," freshman guard Matt McCollom said.

Aside from Saturday's win and lineup change possibilities since, the game against Akron mostly belonged to Cardinal Petie Jackson who broke and claimed the school's career three-point record. Jackson entered Saturday's game with 159 threes trailing 1997 graduate Randy Zachary by two. Jackson hit four threes on the night and finished the contest with 20 points.

Theron Smith continued his reign of the double-double world. Smith finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, marking his 11th double-double for the season.


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