Last week, there was some question about the men's basketball team's starting lineup. This week, there is no question: There will be a starting lineup change.
In fact, it will be the first starting lineup change of the season.
The change however, is not because someone didn't play well enough, but rather, because someone played a bit too hard.
Petie Jackson will not start or play against Marshall tonight at 7:30 in Huntington, W.Va. Jackson broke his left ring finger on Friday going for a loose ball in a drill during practice.
Jackson played Saturday against Miami (Ohio) with the broken finger, but according to team trainer, Tony Cox, Jackson wasn't in any danger.
"We felt there wasn't any risk at that point," Cox said. "But looking down the road, there is no reason to take any chances."
The senior will be having surgery on the broken finger tomorrow. After the surgery, which according to Cox shouldn't take longer than one hour, Jackson will travel to Marshall to watch his teammates take on the Thundering Herd (9-9 overall, 3-5 Mid-American Conference).
According to head coach Tim Buckley, once it was determined Jackson would not play, he had to figure out who would start in place of the senior.
"What we are looking at doing in starting Zach Willingham," Buckley said. "Probably, more than anything, (for his) size. Marshall is a team that has a lot of length, so we are going to look at playing him there at this time and bringing Billy (Lynch) off the bench like we have been."
Buckley explained it is uncertain when Jackson will be back to play, saying it would be a day-to-day situation and would be up to Cox and Jackson's doctor.
Buckley hopes, and said he expects, that Jackson's injury will motivate the rest of the team to play harder in tonight's match up.
"Everybody in that locker room was really proud of him after the game on Saturday," Buckley said. "I know it had to bother him to some degree. The rallying point is to down there to play as well as we can without our leader and without our heartbeat."
Both teams head into the match up coming off of losses. Ball State (13-6, 6-2) was beaten by MAC East rival Miami Saturday, 80-77, while Marshall was downed by Toledo, 77-67. Ball State defeated Toledo earlier this season, 68-59.
Regardless of the records of the two teams, Buckley foresees a tough game with the Thundering Herd tonight.
"Unfortunately for us, I think everyone plays to their potential when they play us," Buckley said. "They are very talented. They are a team that can score the ball from all different areas."
Buckley emphasized that, without Jackson in the lineup, the rest of the team will have to step up.
"It does take away one of our outside threats," Buckley said. "We are going to have to go inside as much as we can. "
"I don't know if one person can make up for what Patrick does for us. It will have to be a team effort."