No Blood No Fallon: Early season critics should step back, reevaluate the positive

The expectations for this season were uncountable.

What has become the reality was unimaginable.

But in the face of bewilderment, after losing two of its three seniors to knee injuries, the men's basketball team must play on.

Earlier this week head coach Tim Buckley explained that losing one of America's top 50 players, Theron Smith, takes a bigger toll on a team than some may think.

One example is his simple presence. Ever since any of the guys first stepped on the hard wood, Smith has been there.

Now he's not. And, he won't be until next year.

The only presence the former All-American candidate can provide now is a father-like figure on the end of the bench, encouraging the players when they stumble, cheering when they succeed.

At first, the team members took it hard, and rightfully so. Put yourselves in their shoes. You travel 3,500 miles to get third place in a tournament everyone expected you to win, and on the way home, you learn your leader has been removed from your disposal.

Then, to make matters worse, you come back to the land of Indiana where attitudes are flying about your "failure in Alaska." You have to face Butler - a team with absolutely no remorse regarding the loss of Smith, a team that probably threw a post practice, pregame party when it learned of his injury.

But, through it all, the team has dealt with it. While dealing with it, Ball State has acquired two losses.

Is that so bad? Of course not, considering it could be worse.

Despite the criticism and skepticism that has poured down on Ball State basketball like a wild waterfall this week, there seems to be a rejuvenated sense of pride developing.

In a time of adversity, the team has regrouped. Some may say that it was merely IUPUI that they beat on Tuesday. But regardless of who the win was against, victory is just what this team needed.

On Dec. 31, Ball State basketball will host a night to remember taking on IU. You can't go from losing your best player to beating IU, last year's national championship runner-up.

Some steps are needed. Defeating IUPUI by 16 points is a step the team needed and a step the team succeeded in taking.

The Cardinals are content with taking it one step at a time, succeeding one step at a time.

The NCAA Tournament is in March, the IU game is at the end of December and the Mid-American Conference season doesn't begin until January.

So for now, it's time for the next step: to win against Wright State on Saturday. It's time the fans back down with their criticism and give the team some room to breath and let the season happen.

The excuse, "We're without 'T,'" should stop.

The team has stopped. In fact, players really never used it as an excuse to begin with.

The team is what it is. Like it or leave it.


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