Junior guard Jeremie Tyler is back with his teammates and helping Ball State men’s basketball win games.

Tyler was suspended for the first 10 games of the season for a violation of team rules, and department policy meant he couldn't be around the team.

Jeremie Tyler stats:

Scoring: 8.9

Rebounds: 1.2

Field goal percentage: 46 percent

Minutes: 19.6

“I missed being with the team,” Tyler said. “The feeling to be back and around the guys just feels good to me.”

That didn't mean he couldn't go to the gym, though, so he would shoot 500 times five mornings each week. He also worked on basketball drills and lifted four days out of the week.

Since returning, Tyler has averaged 8.9 points in 19.6 minutes per game.

“I knew it was going to take me awhile to adjust to the speed of the game,” Tyler said. “As games went on, I felt a lot smoother, but I still have a long way to go.”

Tyler adds to the bench's depth. Before Tyler rejoined the team, Ball State's bench scored 195 points, and in nine games with him, the Cardinals have scored 244 bench points, with 80 from Tyler. 

Head coach James Whitford said adding Tyler to the rotation also improved the defense.

"If you look at our defensive numbers since he’s been back, we have been terrific on defense," Whitford said.

In the 10 games without Tyler, Ball State's opponents shot 41.9 percent from the field. In the nine games the Cardinals have played with Tyler in the lineup, the defense has held teams to a field goal percentage of 39.3 percent.

Tyler said he takes extra care to listen to Whitford's criticism on the defensive end.

“Being coachable is how my defense is improving,” Tyler said. “If I did something wrong on defense, Coach would pull me aside to help me make an adjustment, and I do my best to make the correction.”

Through 10 games without Tyler, the Cardinals posted a 6-4 record. In the nine games since his return, Ball State has an 6-3 record.

Last season, Tyler started 18 games for Ball State. Whitford has been changing his lineup for the last five games and said Tyler could see himself in that role if he keeps playing well.

“[Tyler] certainly could be in the starting lineup,” Whitford said. “My intention is to start different lineups throughout the course of the year because there isn’t much of a gap between the players.”