Matt McKinney is a junior journalism major and writes ‘Killer Crossover’ for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past few years, the Ball State men’s basketball team has not been as successful as desired.
The team has been just eight games above .500, going 48-40 since the beginning of the 2010 season, leading to the firing of former head coach Billy Taylor.
If that weren’t enough, the team has been flat out boring to watch.
The past three seasons, Ball State finished in the bottom half in the Mid-American Conference in scoring.
“Last year, with the half-court offense, I don’t think that really fit us,” senior guard Jesse Berry said. “We didn’t really get up and down. Now we’re getting up and down. You see guys really bringing out their true colors and really playing well.“
As new head coach James Whitford comes in, he brings a faster mindset, as well as a faster style of play on the court.
Whitford said during one practice, “It’s better to be quick and wrong than slow and right.”
As with any new coach, there will be growing pains. As the speed of the game increases, decisions must be made faster than in previous seasons. A faster tempo for the offense will lead to more turnovers.
And Ball State is no stranger to turnovers.
The Cardinals finished 11th out of 12 teams in turnovers, with an average of 15.2 per game. It is likely they will average even more in the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
“Communication is a big thing,” senior forward Tyler Koch said about solving the turnover problem. “We have a lot of young guys. Once we start talking to each other, we’ll figure things out a lot quicker.”
Although the team has six freshmen, the starting lineup looks as though it will have four seniors: Berry, Koch, forwards Chris Bond and Majok Majok.
The new tempo will help keep opposing teams on their toes, never knowing when a fast break will happen. It will also keep fans on their feet in the stands.
Koch, Berry and Whitford all agreed with the fact that fans will notice the up-tempo style of play immediately.
“We’ve all noticed it in practice,“ Koch said with a laugh. “I think they’ll notice.”
The difference will be evident as soon as tonight, when Ball State opens its season with an exhibition against Marion University.
“Especially coming from last year, they’ll say we’re playing much faster and more exciting,” Berry said.
Meaning no offense to the teams of previous seasons, Whitford said he wants to see a new intensity from the 2013-14 team.
“I hope [crowds] see a really passionate team that plays hard and is committed to 40 minutes of intense basketball,” Whitford said.
Will the 2013-14 Ball State men’s basketball team win more games than the past three seasons? Maybe.
Will it be more fun to watch? Definitely.