Cardinals gain experience in exhibition win
Exhibition games are a chance for players to play under the lights and get the jitters out.
Ball State men's basketball's 74-64 exhibition victory over the University of Indianapolis seemed to do just that — but the win didn't come easy.
"We had to deal with a little adversity out there which was a great test," head coach James Whitford said. "This is a learning opportunity whether you win or lose."
Nov. 11 at Saint Louis (St. Louis)
Nov. 15 vs. Indiana State (Muncie)
Nov. 18 at Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Nov. 21 vs. Coppin State (Las Vegas)
Nov. 23 vs. Southern Utah (Las Vegas)
The jitters ran wild early, as UIndy opened the game with a 15-2 run.
“I knew we were better than that," freshman forward Tahjai Teague said. "I was just trying to encourage the people on the court to get back to the game. Not try to get it back all on one possession."
Teague, a redshirt freshman, led the Cardinals with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
"I thought he really played with great energy," Whitford said. "Wherever he's going to be, and where he is today, is nowhere near where he's going to be one day."
Starting out the game in man-to-man defense, the Cardinals seemed a step behind much of the time with 20 of the Greyhounds’ 37 first-half points to come in the paint. The Greyhounds finished the game with 30 points in the paint.
"We were gassed out there," Whitford said. "And I know we need to defend way better."
Jitters are inevitable for new players, but the game allowed fans to get their first look at the new Cardinals, including Teague, redshirt sophomore guard Tayler Persons (transfer), senior center DouDou Gueye (graduate transfer) and freshman forward Kyle Mallers.
Persons serves as the Cardinal’s starting point guard with senior Jeremie Tyler suspended indefinitely. The transfer guard had to sit out all last season and said he was excited to be playing under the lights again.
“It felt great out there, and my teammates have a confidence in me, and I have a lot of confidence in my team," Persons said.
Whitford said Persons carried the team in the first half.
"We were in that game solely because of him," Whitford said. "He was the reason we were tied at halftime."
Persons finished with 13 points and 10 of the Cardinals' 13 assists.
A scary moment occurred early in the first half, however, when Cardinals senior forward Franko House took a hard fall. He didn't return.
Whitford said playing exhibition games make teams better, and he's thankful they had the opportunity.
"When you play good teams, you have a much better sense of what you do well and what you don't do well," Whitford said. "You can mask those mistakes if you just completely out talent them."
The Cardinals open the regular season on the road at 8 p.m. Nov. 11 against Saint Louis.