Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series. Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days. This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days. We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
During Billy Taylor’s four years as head coach of the Ball State Cardinals, the program has shown steady progress. With their top five scorers back, the Cards should compete for the MAC title.
BALL STATE CARDINALS
Last Season: T-3rd, 10-6 MAC, 19-13
Predicted MAC Finish: 3rd
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Jarrod Jones (Sr)/Zach Fields (Jr)
F: Chris Bond (So)/Matt Kamieniecki (So)/Aaron Adeoye (Fr)/Tyler Koch (So)
G: Jauwan Scaife (Jr)/Pierre Sneed (Sr)
G: Jesse Berry (So)/Zeke Chapman (Fr)
PG: Randy Davis (Sr)/Tyrae Robinson (So)
Gone: F-Malik Perry
Ball State’s 19 victories last season was the most the program has seen in nearly a decade. Only one contributor from that team has moved on giving the Cardinals uncommonly high expectations in 2011-12.
Leading the way will be MAC Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Jones. At 6-9, he will be the tallest player in what figures to be a rather under-sized starting five. Chris Bond stepped into the starting line-up late in the season and will be the Cards second tallest starter which is a bit of a concern since he is just 6-4. Ball State will once again go with a three-guard attack featuring point guard Randy Davis and off guards Jesse Berry and Jauwan Scaife. Scaife is the team’s best three-point shooter thought all three guards are more than capable of stroking it from deep.
The Cardinals will be a little shorthanded to start the season. Back-up point guard Tyrae Robinson is academically ineligible for the first semester while reserve forward and Wright State transfer Tyler Koch is likely to miss time as he recovers from a hip fracture.
Until Robinson gets his grades right, senior Pierre Sneed and freshman Zeke Chapman will provide depth at guard. Sneed is an athletic wing player with no resemblance of an outside shot. Chapman is the son of former NBA player Rex Chapman and will provide the Cards with a capable shooter off the bench, something they lacked last season, and also play some point until Robinson returns.
While Ball State will boast a small starting five, they do not have much size off the bench. Zach Fields is the only other player besides Jones who is taller than 6-7, but was seldom used last year as a sophomore. 6-7 Matt Kamieniecki will probably see some minutes at the five while freshman Aaron Adeoye is under-sized at 6-6, but not afraid to throw his 230 pound frame around in the paint.
Ball State was able to overcome a lack of size last season and must do so again this year. Their guard play must once again shine while Jones will have to be effective in the paint and also stay out of foul trouble. Depth might also be an issue early in the season, but Taylor should have the Cardinals competing with Kent State and Western Michigan for a MAC Championship.
Player to Watch: Jarrod Jones
Jones burst onto the scene right out of the gates, with a 21-point, 13-rebound performance in his first collegiate game. He has continued that level of play which is why many believe he has league potential. I imagine he will see more playing time than he did last year when Jones played less than thirty minutes a night but still averaged 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds. If Ball State is going to dethrone Kent State as conference champs, Jones must elevate his game even more. Becoming a more consistent perimeter shooter will be a great asset to compliment his already stellar low post game.
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraka Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.