The Zips will play Ball State Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Rhodes Arena.
Consider these clear Cardinals cutlets...
Billy Taylor is in his second year coaching at Ball State. This passage comes from
BallStateSports.com: "He guided the Cardinals to a 6-24 record in his first year at the helm and a 5-11 record in Mid-American Conference action." I abhor how media relations people write, generally. (Akron's excluded, of course.) However, this sentence is a great illustration of someone striking a sour note on my pet peeve. He
guided? Um, sure. Winning six of 30 games requires a wealth of guidance. At
the helm? If Taylor was at "the helm," he would be up to his neck in seawater. Mid-American Conference
action? Blah. My point is, I hate sports cliches. Hate 'em!
2) Taylor has tried to "turn the ship around" this season. The Cardinals' non-conference accomplishments are limited. Coincidental or not, Ball State heated up once it started to play the MAC West. The team looked very promising until it ran into the MAC East buzzsaw. Ball State was 9-8 and 4-1 in the MAC on Jan. 25. Since then, the Cardinals have gone 1-3 with their only win coming against Ohio at home. Still, that is a great feat compared to the rest of Ball State's division mates. MAC West teams have gone 2-22 in cross-over "action." (The Bobcats also lost at Central Michigan.) Ball State will likely improve again once it finishes the East "gauntlet."
Anthony Newell is one of the MAC's best scorers (15.2 ppg) and rebounders (9.2 rpg). Ball State, like many of its divisional brethren, lost its star when Newell broke his leg in early January. His career is over. The Cardinals have been more than thrilled, however, with 6-foot-8 freshman
Jarrod Jones, who averages 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
mentions Jones as one of the top two candidates for MAC Player of the Year. Kent State's
Geno Ford said they are wasting paper if they hold a vote for MAC Freshman of the Year. In Jones' first collegiate game, he dropped 21 points and 13 rebounds on Eastern Illinois. He blocks shots, crashes the boards and shoots 48 percent from the field. Jones is one of eight newcomers to the program this season, which should suggest where the MAC West power struggle is headed: Muncie, Ind.
4) If not for Newell's injury, the Cardinals could have assembled a pretty solid starting five. Ball State relies on two senior guards,
Laron Frazier and
Brandon Lampley, who handle the ball quite well. Aside from Jones, however, the frontcourt is bare. Looking at the statistics, no player stands out offensively or defensively.
5) Ball State is
the MAC's worst offense, scoring only 57.2 points per game. By contrast, Akron's offense has had its struggles, but only on six occasions have the Zips scored 57 or fewer points. The Cardinals are in the conference's bottom three in field goal and 3-point percentage. The defense is the third-best in points allowed, but is dead last in steals and blocked shots.
Looking at common opponents, Akron has been about 15 points better than Ball State. Add on 10 for the home-court advantage, and I think the Zips will win by 25.