Ball State fails to execute in loss to Valparaiso

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (SPORTS) -  Ball State basketball continued its string of losses Wednesday this time at the hands of a big, defensive Valparaiso team that won 69-50.

Senior forward Tyler Koch said the team literally "lost its identify" as it failed to execute on all fronts, according to BSU coach James Whitford.

 The 2-5 Cardinals rolled up four straight losses and now have a two week holiday break before rolling into Marquette on Dec. 17. 

 And the only home game this month had less than 3,000 attending with many leaving early in the fourth quarter as Ball State had too many turnovers and too few baskets.

Some fans like B.K. Wilson said the season was worse than the last couple of years with former coach Billy Taylor as he and others thought Whitford might not be the right fit for coach.

 Whitford offered no excuses in the post game press conference, saying the team had regressed from earlier games with Butler and Indiana State which they also lost.

"We are not a great three point shooter," said Whitford. "And turnovers are a problem for us too."

Actually, Whitford said the team did not execute on anything it tried to do, and had other distractions that caused less scoring.

Freshman guard Zavier Turner skipped class, and did not start in Wednesday's game. And senior center Majok Majok was double teamed and only got five points and five rebounds.

Koch, who played for Taylor, said the team did a poor job of managing the ball. While Ball State thought Valparaiso would play zone, the Crusaders switched back and forth with man coverage and the Cardinals did not transition well.

Whitford said the play was unacceptable across the board and promised that more practice could still turn the program around.

Crediting Valparaiso with good team play and a great defensive effort, Whitford said the Cardinals was team was "still a work in progress" as far as playing together.

Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said the Cardinals were a good team, but the Crusaders were better, shooting 48 percent from the field, compared to 27 percent by the Cardinals. 

With Marquette, Southern Illinois, and James Madison on the road this month, the Cardinals' losing streak could continue into the conference season.

Photo credits: Stephanie Tarrant