"I remember my first game here just like it was last week," said Ball State Senior Jauwan Scaife with smile.
Scaife returns as one of two seniors in perhaps the youngest Ball State roster of his four-years in Cardinal red and white. Scaife, who averaged 5.9 points in 18.8 minutes per game, is joined by senior center Zach Fields as the two elder leaders of a Ball State basketball team looking to forget last year's 15-15 season. Maybe not the first half, but the final stretch when the team won three of their last thirteen.
The biggest problem for the Cardinals though is how they are going to replace the 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds that Jarrod Jones graduated with. However, Head Coach Billy Taylor thinks that the team will be able to find a way to open up the offense a bit now that the Cardinals won't be relying on the stellar play of Jones.
"I think we are going to play yard," said Taylor.
"I think we really hang our hat on that and sharing the basketball. There were times last-year when the ball died on us. We were more set-play oriented and trying to get touches for Jarrod Jones. This year we are trying to get movement. Movement of the basketball and movement of men, sharing the basketball and playing really hard on defense. Hopefully we can get out on transition and force some turnovers so we can display the athleticism that we have."
The Cardinals will be without Junior forward Tyler Koch (6.6 points, 3.3 rebounds) to start the season due to a broken thumb, but return Junior-starter Chris Bond (7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds) who will play along with seven freshman players and 6'8 junior college transfer Majok Majok.
Ball State opens up their regular-season schedule on November 11th against Grambling, but soon after face some of the toughest teams in the state in Indiana State (Nov. 20th), number-one ranked Indiana University (Nov. 25th), Butler (Dec. 1st), and Purdue (Dec. 18th).
"The three big ones to us in IU, Purdue, and Butler will be good experiences for us to go out there and really try to prove ourselves," said Scaife.
"To prove to everybody else that we can play. That is what we are trying to do. But like I always say, you don't treat those games any different from any other game. Just one game at a time, and when those games come, we will be there and be ready. We just want to treat every game like the same, working hard every day to get better."
If the Cardinals can stay competitive in those games, and play hard throughout their Mid-American Conference schedule, Scaife's senior year is bound to fly by just as quick as the first three.