Even after a primetime win, it all starts and stops with culture for Ball State women’s basketball.
Hung up during shoot around pregame, signs were draped for players to see. Although each of them has a different message, head coach Brady Sallee said they all are tied together with one big one. “Fight for your culture.”
“It is what we believe in, it is who we are,” Sallee said. “It is win or lose, how we judge ourselves. I told them the other day that wins and losses are byproducts of doing all the things correctly. With the passion and energy put in each one.”
Junior Nyla Hampton said the culture built around the team is extremely important to success.
“It is what we fall back on,” Hampton said. “We talk about playing with standards, and our culture falls into those standards. We always want to play the right way, doing everything on and off the court the right way. It all cycles back to that culture.”
Flailing back on standards, Ball State (17-2, 7-0 MAC) defeated Miami (OH) (4-13, 2-5 MAC) 91-56.
Coming off a primetime win against Toledo, Sallee said every coach would be nervous to keep up the momentum against the RedHawks. Regardless, he said the players approached the game with high energy in preparation.
Using one of Sallee’s mottos, “1-0 today,” sophomore Ana Barreto said she was able to move on quickly to focus on Miami.
In Worthen Arena, it was Youth Night where tickets for children were discounted. This has been one of many initiatives to bring the community into the stands.
Before the season started, Sallee made a point to athletics that the team was going to be worth putting advertising into each night. He described it as a “perfect storm” of a good team and a good athletic department that wants to market the team.
“All these special nights, whether it be first responders or youth night is a little bit of a way for us to reach out and say, thanks,” Sallee said.
Sallee said with the initiatives and crowds, that Worthen is becoming a tougher and tougher place to play in if you are an opponent.
“We do the basketball stuff, and the community brings all the extra,” Barreto said.
Hampton said she also feels the support behind the community.
“It makes the gym feel a little more electric, there is an uproar with every basket, steal and good play we have,” Hampton said. “It gives you an extra energy boost on the court.”
While not being vital to the offense, Sallee said shooting the 3-point shot is a comfortable way to play. He said plenty of times this year teams have put the Cardinals off the line, but the team is able to adjust and get to the rim. Tonight, the Cardinals made 13 3-pointers on a 48 percent clip.
“It really is positionless,” Sallee said.
Four of the 13 3-pointers came from Barreto. Going into the game, Barreto had gone the previous five games with no field goal makes. Today, she was 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from three, finishing tied for a team-high 14 points.
“It comes from extra work that I have been putting in,” Barreto said. “I just have to keep doing it and the confidence will come for the next game.”
Although he said 3-pointers can play a role, Sallee said the team is all about living and dying by how they are defending. He said everything on the offensive side is going to stem from how aggressive and disruptive the defense is playing.
“The difference of this team and why it’s doing what it’s doing is because of the emphasis they have bought into defensively,” Sallee said.
“The threes are no different than layups and free throws, it is just what we execute and get. If it is 13 of them, great, if it is six of them, we’ll be fine.”
Ball State will travel to Eastern Michigan Jan. 27 for their next contest. The game is slated to start at 1 p.m.