So ... about last year ...
In last year's season preview for this very site, I proclaimed that it would be a special year, predicting some overly-ludicrous record and that a NCAA Tournament bid was within reach.
I overestimated Billy Taylor's squad badly. Very badly. After a somewhat encouraging non-conference run, the Cardinals' decline began with a 70-58 loss to Akron on Jan. 24. That setback began a streak where they lost seven in a row and nine out of 10 contests. The season mercifully came to an end in the first game of the MAC Tournament, a 69-63 loss to Western Michigan.
The biggest problem Ball State encountered was one that's plagued Ball State throughout the Billy Taylor era: a Tire Fire Offense, to borrow a popular college football term. The Cardinals only averaged 63.4 points per game, 268th among Division I programs. And Ball State did that with one of its best players in recent memory, Jarrod Jones, who has graduated.
Speaking of departures - here's a list of people from last year no longer with the team. Grab a drink and relax as we go through this list.
- Jarrod Jones - graduated.
- Randy Davis - graduated.
- Pierre Sneed - graduated.
- Zeke Chapman - quit basketball, playing NBA Live 96 so he can play as his dad.
- Tyrae Robinson - departed program, now at the University of Indianapolis
- Aaron Adeoye - transferred to John A. Logan College. I like Adeoye's athlecism. I think he'll be missed.
That's three of the top four scorers in Jones, David and Robinson who are no longer with the program. GOOD TIMES.
In some ways, we're getting a complete overhaul of the program, something that unfortunately happened quite a bit in the Tim Buckley era. Here are the newcomers:
- G Marcus Posley
- F Rocco Belcaster
- F Bo Calhoun
- G George Cater
- G Chase Brogna
- G Michael Ramey
- C Mading Thok
- F Majok Majok
If Jesse Berry had his druthers, the starting lineup will be Berry at point guard, Jauwan Scaife at shooting guard, Chris Bond at small forward, Matt Kamieniecki at power forward and Majok Majok at center.
But make no mistake about it - this is Jesse Berry's team. He'll take over the point guard position for Davis, his natural position. Berry was the Cardinals' second-leading scorer at 9.7 points per game despite only starting three games. Berry was a prolific scorer in high school - I got to see him a handful of times as he's from Lafayette, Ind., where I live - and there's no reason Berry can't take his play to the next level.
It's going to depend on the rest of the supporting cast steps up as to whether or not the Cards will have any success this year. Can the 6-8 Majok be the force in the middle that everyone's hoping? He averaged 10.8 and 7.5 rebounds at Midland College last season, so that's sort of promising. I remember when Ball State got a JUCO transfer by the name of Micah Rollin back in 2006 - 6'10, 260 pounds. He averaged like 2 points a game at the College of Southern Idaho, so, yeah, hopefully Majok pans out a little bit better. Rollin's stats were so bad Ball State didn't even include them on the press release.
Hey, let's watch 2 minutes and 21 seconds of Majok Majok dunking, blocking and making lay-ups!
I'm ALL IN BABY!
Posley is a very intriguing player. He averaged 19.4 ppg his junior year, but didn't play his senior year after he transferred to another high school and wasn't permitted to play. He's also a speedster as he finished third in the 200-meter dash in the Illinois state finals his junior year. Can he be the sixth man, or even the eventual starter that can bring a dash of excitement to the Cardinals' offense?
He may have to now that the designated gunner from 3-point land, Tyler Koch, is out 8-12 weeks after thumb surgery. Hopes were high for Koch after he transferred from Wright State, but he's been quite unlucky in many, many ways.
The possibility also exists that Thok may be redshirted. I know people were high on Ramey after he committed to Ball State - the same with Calhoun. Can they earn playing time right away? With the lack of depth and unknown quantities on this team, anything is possible.
I don't know what to expect from this team, to be quite honest. If the Cards finish 15-15 like they did last season, I get the impression everyone would be quite happy with that.