Game #9-385: Ball State Cardinals at Miami (Oh.) RedhawksJanuary 26, 2013 3:00 pm
I had yet to visit Oxford, Ohio or Miami University yet this season. That may not seem strange, except that Miami is the closest Division I school from my home.
I'm not the only one that has struggled to find a reason to attend a Miami basketball game this season. Millett Hall was only seeing an average of 1,350 people per game, including some games that failed to break 1,000. With such bad attendance, it was a strange decision that Miami made when they raised single-game ticket prices to $20 for reserved seats and $18 for general admission. Generally, price should drop when demand is lacking, but maybe the administration at Miami decided that nothing would get crowds above 2,000, so just get every dollar you can get out of those attending.
Miami basketball has been in a slow decline since the 1999 squad won 24 games and made it to the Sweet 16. The RedHawks have only made one NCAA appearance since then, a first-round exit in 2007. Coach John Cooper (not the former Ohio State football coach) was in his first year at the helm after leaving Tennessee State to replace the legendary Charlie Coles.
Replacing a legend can be hard enough. It's probably even harder when the legend is looking over your shoulder. About 10 minutes before tip, Coles walked into the arena and took a slow lap around the court to his seat about 10 rows behind the Miami bench. Most people who have recently retired would not be spending late-January in Oxford, Ohio. But you just can't get a basketball lifer like Coles away from the game.
The opponents would be the Ball State Cardinals. Ball State's program has fallen from their heyday of the 90s as well, when Theron Smith and Bonzi Wells played for the Cards under coach Ray McCallum. Ball State hasn't had a 20-win season since 2002, and hasn't appeared in the NCAA tournament since 2000. Coach Billy Taylor is now in his sixth season in charge, and with a below .500 record at Ball State, one wonders how much longer the administration in Muncie will keep the faith in him.
This season has done little to reverse those trends for either team. Both teams entered the game at 2-4 in Mid-American Conference play and were also below .500 on the season.
Play started brightly for both teams. Jauwan Scaife hit a three for Ball State, but was immediately answered by Jon Harris for Miami. Jesse Berry would answer back with another superhoop for Ball State. Will Felder would hit a two-point jumper for the RedHawks, but Berry would hit another three for Ball State. At the first media timeout, the score was already 11-7 in favor of the Cardinals.
The offensive onslaught was a result of two things. One, Coach Cooper was having the RedHawks press after made baskets. This would be unthinkable in the Charlie Coles era, as Coles would only have the team press in the last minute or two if they were behind. But Cooper had stated that he wanted to bring a more up-tempo style to Miami that the fans would enjoy.
The second was that neither team is very good on defense. Miami was ranked 280th in defensive efficiency, allowing 1.068 points per possession. Ball State ranked only slightly higher at 244th, with 1.042 points allowed per possession.
During the timeout, I noticed that Ball State did what many teams do today; take the timeout huddle away from the bench area and onto the court. I think I remember Perry Watson of Detroit being the first coach I saw do this. It does make sense in some arenas have fans or the band seated close by that can be distracting to the players trying to listen to the coach. But at Millett Hall, which has wide walkways surrounding the court and isn't very raucous to begin with, it seems a bit silly.
It was Coaches vs. Cancer day, meaning that both coaching staffs were wearing sneakers to help promote awareness. Some coaches will wear the sneakers with their normal suit, which looks a bit awkward (sorry Kyle). Both coaches opted for a more casual look for the day, going with polo shirts and slacks. Coach Taylor took it to extreme, wearing his long-sleeve polo untucked. Not the most professional look.
The two teams would seemingly trade baskets back and forth for the rest of the half. The lead changed 10 times, with five tie scores mixed in. Berry would hit his fourth three of the half to give Ball State a 32-29 lead, and two Majok Majok free throws gave Ball State their largest lead of the half that they would take into the locker room, 34-29.
After the break, Miami got off to a quick start and erased the Ball State lead. The RedHawks would go ahead on a ye-olde superhoop, when Felder was fouled on a made jumper and hit the free throw to put Miami up 39-38. That would be the last lead the RedHawks would have.
Miami just could not handle the inside-outside threat of Berry and Majok. With Ball State on fire from outside, the Cards would hit 9-of-18 superhoop attempts on the day, the RedHawks had to extend their defense. This created tons of space for Majok to operate. Majok collected a rare Berry miss and put the Cardinals up with the putback.
The momentum shifted for good when Felder got a steal from Ball State's Chris Bond, Felder streaked to the other end, but bricked the attempted dunk. The Cardinals quickly went the other way while everyone was still in shock and Scaife hit a three to put Ball State up four, 43-39.
Miami did hang in for a while, but a Ball State 12-0 run punctuated by a Majok omgalleyoop off of an inbounds pass with 3:05 to go sealed the game. That made the score 68-54, and the Cards would cruise to an 82-62 victory.
Majok (pronounced Ma-ZHOOK) would end up with 21 points and eight rebounds for Ball State, while Berry scored 20 off of 6-for-9 shooting behind the arc. The Cardinals shot 57.7 percent from the field, proving that the Miami defense has plenty of work to do. Meanwhile, you have to wonder why Ball State isn't doing better after that display. The inside-outside threat of Majok and Berry should be more of a force in the MAC than their conference record indicates. Maybe they'll get it straightened out enough to keep a positive Diff at MAC Madness in Cleveland.
BALL STATE 82, at MIAMI (OH.) 62
BALL STATE 8-10 (2-4) -- C. Bond 8-13 0-0 16; J. Berry 7-11 0-0 20; M. Majok 7-10 7-8 21; J. Scaife 3-7 6-8 14; M. Kamieniecki 1-1 0-2 2; M. Posley 2-6 0-0 5; Z. Fields 1-2 0-0 2; T. Koch 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 30-52 13-18 82.
MIAMI (OH.) 7-11 (2-4) -- W. Felder 5-13 3-3 14; Q. Rollins 4-6 4-4 12; J. Harris 3-7 0-0 7; R. Johnson 4-10 0-0 10; A. Roberts 0-4 2-2 2; W. Sullivan 2-4 0-0 6; G. McKnight 2-3 0-0 4; D. McGhee 3-5 1-1 7; V. Legarza 0-0 0-0 0; J. Sewell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 10-10 62.
Three-point goals: BSU 9-18 (T. Koch 0-1; J. Scaife 2-5; J. Berry 6-9; M. Posley 1-3), MIO 6-21 (A. Roberts 0-3; W. Felder 1-3; J. Harris 1-5; Q. Rollins 0-1; W. Sullivan 2-3; R. Johnson 2-5; G. McKnight 0-1); Rebounds: BSU 32 (M. Majok 8), MIO 16 (W. Felder 4); Assists: BSU 19 (J. Scaife 7), MIO 11 (Q. Rollins 4); Total Fouls -- BSU 15, MIO 18; Fouled Out: BSU-None; MIO-None.
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