Ball State Women’s Basketball (1-2, 0-0 MAC) will leave the cold weather for the holiday and travel south for the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida.
The Cardinals are coming off their second loss of the season Saturday, but will get a chance to redeem themselves this weekend against some top programs in the nation.
“It simulates as best as we can the conference tournament feel,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “We are going to have to learn how to be tougher and have to learn to play at a high-level and this is the best way to do it.”
The Gulf Coast Showcase is a Thanksgiving tournament constructed of eight-teams featuring No. 21 Missouri, Duke, Washington, Fordham, No. 10 Texas, Quinnipiac and Michigan.
“I’m very excited to go to Florida,” sophomore forward Oshlynn Brown said. “This is a challenge for us, like we are going to be playing either Duke or Washington and that’s like a big challenge for us and I feel like we are ready for it and it’s just a different experience for us.”
Ball State has had some growing pains with the mostly new roster in the early part of the season. Improvements will need to be made for the team to be successful moving forward.
“Toughness is where it starts, we just have to be tougher,” Sallee said. “If you keep playing the level opponents that we are, you either merge in and roll with the traffic or you get run over…but sooner or later we are going to merge in and get in the fast lane and that’s the big picture part of what we are trying to do.”
The Cardinals have struggled to come up with some of the hustle plays, such as rebounding and recovering loose balls. Ball State averages about 34.3 rebounds per game, while allowing its opponents to grab 47 per game.
However, Sallee believes that things are headed in the right direction. The upperclassmen have taken on the role of leading the team and trying to be different and the underclassmen are following right behind them. He explained that he liked the way they have responded after a tough loss on Saturday.
“We are learning the lessons that we need to,” Sallee said. “They are really intent on continuing to get better and believing in this thing and getting turned around and get where we all know we can go.”
Ball State will have to face a new challenge as they will play three games in three days. However, Sallee expects his team to be prepared and thinks it will help the young team grow.
“We will spend some time clearly in practice getting ready for some of the things we will see, but then we kind of have to go learn on the fly and that will be new for this group and it’s something we will learn from and get better with,” Sallee said. “This could be a really big part of our year for us, if we handle it the right way.”
Ball State is set to play Fordham Friday, at 11 a.m. This will be the first time the two teams have faced each other in program history. The Cardinals will then either go on to face the winner or loser of the Duke and Washington matchup on Saturday, and they will follow up with their final tournament game Sunday.