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Second-Half Rally Lifts Ball State MBB Over Indiana State

BSULogoWell hello there friends. I’m sure, like me, you’ve spent your Saturday clutching to the last few precious college football games remaining for 2014. However, the sooner we get it through our head that football is over for the Cardinals this season, the sooner we can move ahead to focusing solely on basketball. Not coincidentally, the Hoop Cards were in action today at Worthen against the Fighting Sycamores of Indiana State, notching their third win of the season 70-63 over our Terra Haute brethren, snapping a three-game losing streak to ISU in the process. This doesn’t take away the pain of the football upset, but, it’s a start. To the release

MUNCIE, Ind. — Francis Kiapway was on the floor for during crunch time Saturday because of how well he had played defensively throughout the game with Indiana State.

At the end of the day, it was his two clutch 3-pointers that helped the Cardinals to a 70-63 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak to the Sycamores (3-5).

The Cardinals (3-3) overcame a 30-22 halftime deficit by shooting nearly 64 percent from the floor and knocking down 6 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half.

“That was a great college basketball game; the energy in the building was outstanding,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “I was really proud of our team. We have let some bad plays mushroom for us this year, and it was a big theme for us in the second half to focus on the next play. I thought we did that for the whole half.”

Zavier Turner led five double-figure scorers for Ball State with 15 points, including 14 in the second half, to go along with six assists. Bo Calhoun scored a career-high 13 points, while Kiapway, Matt Kamieniecki and Franko House all had 11.

“Zavier made some really important decisions in transition in the second half,” Whitford said. “Getting those points in crunch time was really the difference in the game for us.”

Kamieniecki also grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. His lay-in after a pass from Turner gave the Cardinals a 60-58 lead in a back-and-forth game with 2:11 to play.

Indiana State briefly regained the lead on a Brenton Scott 3-pointer, but Kiapway answered with treys on the next two Ball State possessions for a 66-61 lead. The Cardinals were then able to ice the game at the free throw line.

“Francis stayed in the game not because of his ability to shoot but because he was very sound defensively,” Whitford said. “He made some huge defensive plays prior to that. I couldn’t be happier for him because he loves the game as much as any player I’ve ever coached. It was great to see him step up and play well.”

In addition to improved shooting, the Cardinals began to dominate the glass in the second half. Indiana State held a 22-18 rebounding advantage at halftime, but Ball State out-rebounded the Sycamores by a 17-8 margin after the break.

Justin Gant and Khristian Smith led Indiana State with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Ball State will now have the week off for final exams. The Cardinals will return to action Saturday, Dec. 13 with a 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) tipoff at Valparaiso.

There’s a decent sized alumni contingent up around Valpo, so check out the Cards next week if you can.

OTPcast 6.19

OTP Cast Logo200BSU and me, we go way back
For better or for worse
I can’t believe this season’s gone
And the proof’s in the way it hurts
For months on end I’ve had my doubts
Denying every tear
I can’t believe it’s over now
Cause I know that I still need games here
You say I’m crazy
‘Cause you think I have too much fun
But when you download the podcast
I know I’m not the only one

Jason and Alan are back to recap the Black Friday victory over Bowling Green and talk about how that win shifts perspective on the 2014 season. They talk offseason shuffling and which current Cards might find themselves suiting up on Sunday. Finally, it’s all about the playoffs and rivalries as the national news this week was off the charts. All that and more in this week’s OTPcast!

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Leave us a rating on iTunes if you like what you hear! Enjoy…

AFCA Honors Ball State Football for Graduation Rate

BSULogoLet it not be said that Ball State football doesn’t put the “student” in student-athlete. Sure, other institutions may be competing for national championships and Bahamas Bowl berths, but some of those programs have athletes that I would assume probably wear Velcro shoes and can’t spell their team name correctly without looking at their sweatshirt. Not the case in Muncie, sports fans, as today the American Football Coaches Association honored your Ball State Cardinals for their graduation rate being over 90% for the football program.

Think that’s not impressive? You’re wrong. The Cardinals are one of only 13 teams in the country to achieve that kind of classroom success. To the Ball State release!

Ball State’s football program was recognized by the American Football Coaches Association as one of only 13 schools in the country to graduate at least 90 percent of its student-athletes in the latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate Report.

Of the 13 football playing Mid-American Conference schools, Ball State was one of only two to have a GSR score of at least 90 and is the only state school in Indiana to graduate over 90 percent of its 2007 class in the six years allowed for GSR purposes.

Among the football student-athletes including in this time frame for Ball State were Capital One Academic All-Americans Briggs Orsbon and Zane Fakes. Twenty-one of the Cardinals during this six year time frame were named to the MAC All-Academic team, while six were honored on the Capital One Academic All-District squad.

Congrats to the Cards and I hope someone put some of those good grade cards on the football office’s refrigerator.

Cardinals End Season On High Note, Upset Bowling Green

BSULogoI think with Friday’s 41-24 upset victory over MAC East Champion Bowling Green that included:

  • Bowling Green needing two plays (a 75-yard run a 96-yard kick return) to jump out to a 14-7 lead (after an Ozzie Mann 62-yard TD pass of his own)
  • Bowling Green taking a 21-7 lead with 9 minutes to go in the 1st quarter
  • Ozzie Mann starting his first game since October 4’s loss at Army in place of injured Jack Milas

we can officially call 2014 the absolute weirdest damn season that I can remember covering this team. Fluke plays, freak injuries, upsets of favorites, being upset as the favorite, this season officially had everything possible. And let’s not forget the record-breaking year and career that Quake Edwards turned in.

For Friday’s game, a game that admittedly both Jason and I thought would end the Cards’ season on a bit of a sour note, it is a ray of hope for fans to take away from this season and the coaching staff to go out and recruit on for the next class. After losing a slew of NFL-caliber talent and a deep senior class, the Cardinals still managed to pull a .500 record in the MAC, which (being honest, here) seemed somewhere just short of impossible after the loss to Western Michigan dropped the Cards to 1-5.

But a funny thing happened on the Cards’ way to irrelevancy this season, as QB1 was bestowed to Jack Milas and the Cards at pulled Ws in four of their last six. There’s plenty of opportunities for the pessimistic fans among us to cherry-pick the games that were basic coin flips that could have easily gone the Cards’ way (Iowa, WMU, and UMass at bare minimum) but that would be overlooking the Cards victories that could have easily gone the other way as well. Plus, it takes away from the stellar finish to this season for this senior class.

It’s funny how as a season progresses expectations and definitions change. If you had told me at the beginning of the season this year would be a 5-7 experience, I’d have been a tad bit unhappy and unsatisfied. Now, after the early losing streak and the (at times) complete unsatisfying experience known as Ball State football, I’m thrilled with 5-7 and just about ready to drive to Muncie to celebrate and tongue kiss whoever I see. Alas, it’s Thanksgiving break, so that would be a fruitless endeavor.

Friday’s BG win was a return to the Cardinal brand of football we have come to sort of expect and get awfully used to. It was a balanced attack through the air and the ground, and kudos to Joey Lynch for putting together a gameplan and playcalling that allowed the Cards to thrive. The Cards had no turnovers, no significant mistakes or penalties, dominated the time of possession, and most importantly in the second half: got the hell out of Quake’s way.

Edwards finishes his Cardinal career in true Quake-ian fashion, gashing the Falcons for 165 yards and 2 TDs. It is a fitting end to the career of the school’s career rushing leader, career rushing TDs leader, and career attempts leader. They don’t make ‘em like Quake much anymore, so count your blessings you were able to see him play.

The focus around these parts will shift a bit over the next few weeks to season recaps, lookaheads to the NFL futures of our graduating Cardinals, and trying to put an appropriate bow on this season. We’ll be there right there with you for all of it. More on BG tomorrow, but for now, it’s just enjoying this win, some leftover turkey and such, and just generally being in a much more pleasant mood than I expected to be at this particular juncture. So thank you Cards, for this game, this season, and everything else. Final word tomorrow, Go Cards!

OTPcast 6.18

OTP Cast Logo200Love to throw a chirp
‘Cause it’s good
Love to throw a chirp
Like a good boy should
Chirps for me
Chirps for you
Let’s get to chirpin’
At the Scheu
Love to chirp chirp
When I’m able
I once saw a movie
With Betty Grable
Chirp your ass off
All night long
Fifty million Elvis fans
Can’t be wrong
Chirpy lurpey doo and
Chirpy lurpey dap
I chirp my heart out
Then I take a nap

Jason and Alan are back just in time to get you ready for the Ball State/Bowling Green game on Black Friday. While the townspeople are in turkey comas or standing in line for a $4 television, you can get your learn on about the Falcons, chat up the Eastern Michigan win and the loss of Jack Milas, and the fella’s takes on the last regular season week of the season. All that and more in this week’s OTPcast!

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Leave us a rating on iTunes if you like what you hear! Enjoy…

Ball State Men’s Basketball Shoots Past Grambling

BSULogoPart of me wants to point out the poor choice of words in the BSU media relations lede given the current goings on in Missouri where firefighters are getting shot at, a CNN lady got hit with a rock, and you know, a teenager got shot by a police officer, but that would be blending current events and sports and that seems like more Alan’s bag. So yeah, Ball State men’s basketball beat Grambling. Go Cards!

MUNCIE, Ind. — The Ball State men’s basketball team knocked down 14 3-pointers Monday night and cruised to an 88-46 victory over Grambling State at Worthen Arena.

Jeremie Tyler led five double-figure scorers for the Cardinals (2-2) with 18 points, while Rocco Belcaster knocked down his first four treys of the night on his way to a career-high 15 points. Franko House and Sean Sellers finished with 12 points each, while Bik Gill added a career-high 11.

Ball State moved the ball well, recording 23 assists on 30 made baskets, led by Sellers with six assists and Kaleb Mallory with five. Mallory and Francis Kiapway shared the point guard duties for the Cardinals, which had only 10 turnovers against Grambling State (1-3) after giving it away 25 times Saturday in an overtime loss at IUPUI.

“The biggest thing for us coming off Saturday’s game was taking care of the ball; it was a huge deal,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “For us to come in with Francis and Kaleb running the show and to have 10 turnovers, that was the stat of the game, no question about it. I thought we played very unselfishly and shared the ball.”

Kiapway scored eight points and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers of his own in his second career game after missing time early because of injury. The 14 3-pointers were the most by a Ball State team since the 2006 season and two shy of the school record.

“Francis did a very good job of being poised,” Whitford said. “He didn’t play too fast; he kind of set the tone. There were a couple chances where he could have tried to make home run plays and he didn’t. He really controlled the rhythm and the tempo of the game, and I though Kaleb did a good job with it, too.”

Ball State won the battle on the boards for the third straight game, outrebounding Grambling State by a 35-23 margin. Matt Kamieniecki had a game-high 13 rebounds just two days after grabbing a career-high 15 boards at IUPUI.

The Cardinals finished the night shooting 54.5 percent from the floor (30 for 55) and 50 percent from beyond the arc (14 for 28). Grambling State was able to score 36 points in the paint, but the Tigers shot 1 for 8 from 3-point range as the Cardinals outscored them 42-3 from distance.

Ball State is now off until a Dec. 3 road game at Eastern Illinois. The Cardinals will return home Dec. 6 to host Indiana State at Worthen Arena.

Indiana State, you say? Seems like the basketball team could dole out some revenge for the football bed-shatting and that would be fine by me.

Better Know: Bowling Green

Better Know Logo 200On Friday, Ball State closes out their 2014 season on the road against MAC East champion and sure-to-be-bowling Bowling Green. For Bowling Green, they are looking to continue their successful season and have at least one more contest after BSU: The Marathon MAC Championship in Detroit. For Ball State, this Friday’s contest is an opportunity to close 2014 out on a high note, in a season where high notes have been few and far between for the Cardinals. A victory puts the Cardinals at 5-7, but more importantly, also 4-4 in the MAC. With the injuries, staff turnover, and random fluke bad luck that has plagued the Cards this season, a .500 in-conference finish would be nothing short of staggering.

Lengthening those upset odds (Vegas has BG as 9-point favorites) is the fact that current starting Cardinals QB Jack Milas was removed from the previous EMU game with a wrist injury and is listed as “out” on this week’s depth chart, joining a whole host of other Cardinals. Who won’t be there isn’t as important as who will be, namely the newly re-annointed QB1, Ozzie Mann. So it’s Ozzie Football time again for Friends of the Feather.

Kickoff time on Friday is 1pm at Doyt Perry Stadium, and you can catch the game on ESPN3. Of course, before you do that, you should learn about BG, and that’s where we come in. Time to Better Know: Bowling Green!

Team: Bowling Green Falcons
Record: 7-4 (5-2 MAC)
Ranking: Unranked
Head Coach: Dino Babers
Series: BG leads 20-8-1
Last Meeting: 2009, a 31-17 BG win

Bowling Green Head Coach Dino Babers
… is in his first season as BG’s head coach, coming to the Falcons after a successful stint as head coach at FCS Eastern Illinois, where he was 19-7.
… his first year at Eastern Illinois was a worst-to-first turnaround and year two was a 12-2 record and a #2 national ranking.
… had the best offense in FCS both of his seasons at the helm of Eastern Illinois.

When it comes to BG versus the Cardinals
… BG is in the midst of six straight victories over the Cardinals.
… the last Cardinals victory over BG came in 1996, a 16-11 win at Bowling Green.
… in games played in Bowling Green, the Falcons have an 11-5 advantage.

The Bowling Green Falcons
… will honor 17 student-athletes on Friday as part of their senior day festivities. This particular group of graduates have led the Falcons to back-to-back MAC Championship Game appearances.
… will compete in Detroit on December 5 against a yet-to-be-determined MAC West opponent for the conference crown.
… are 3-0 this season in the week following a loss. Last week, the Falcons were defeated 27-20 last week at Toledo.

Zavier Turner Suspended Indefinitely from Ball State Basketball

BSULogoThey say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but methinks this would qualify in the “bad” category. After a 40-point thumping of IU Kokomo and a closer than expected loss to #25 Utah, Ball State basketball was on the upswing. Today, their ascent may have hit a patch of turbulence.

From the BSU release:

Sophomore guard Zavier Turner of the Ball State men’s basketball team has been suspended indefinitely by head coach James Whitford for a violation of team rules.

“­We are committed to high standards, and there are consequences for poor judgment,” Whitford said. “We place a high emphasis on the culture within our program, and we strive to develop players both on and off the court.”

Turner has started the first two games this year, averaging 12.5 points and 3.0 assists per game. He was the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year last season.

So there’s that. More on this as it comes.

OTPcast 6.17

OTP Cast Logo200I like the way you chirp it,
No diggity
You gotta cheer the Cards
I like the way you chirp it,
No diggity
You gotta cheer the Cards

We’ve got Jack and Quake
Eastern Michigan ’bout to shake
Secor never shanks kicks
Defensive backs layin’ big licks
Making dumb mistakes is a no
Let me tell you how it goes
Cards flyin’ high, Eagles bout to die
Cause that’s the way it goes in Scheumann

Jason and Alan are back just in time to get you ready for Eastern Michigan, the senior day home-finale for the Cardinals. They also talk about their choices for the playoff, Jason hates on the SEC, the ACC wants 8 in the playoff, Bill Cosby’s rough week, and Kim K’s booty pic. It’s a loaded OTPcast for you.

Couple of different ways to hear this puppy. Viewing OTP in a feedreader? Then visit the site or download the mp3 from iTunes by clicking here. Leave us a rating on iTunes if you like what you hear! Enjoy…

Better Know: Eastern Michigan

Better Know Logo 200I remember in years past that an Eastern Michigan game, more often than not, was one of the penciled in Ws on the schedule when the MAC released the conference slate for the coming football season. I know the platitudes and such about “Any given Saturday” and the whole respect your conference opponent thing, but I think it’s safe to say from an objective point of view that as the MAC has progressed from midweek novelty to significant BCS busting power that has the P5 conferences on perpetual upset alert that one boat was left behind by the rising tide: the EMU Eagles.

The good news for EMU is that it appears their boat is finally on the upswing, as new coach Chris Creighton is pulling out the stops to make EMU competitive, marketable, and noteworthy for something other than being the team you try to schedule for homecoming. If he can’t do it, I question whether anyone can, and frankly, the systemic and institutional roadblocks at EMU make even the hurdles at Ball State seem manageable.

On Saturday, it’s Senior Day at the Scheu and there’s a chance for BSU to gain a small bit of momentum before closing the season on Black Friday at Bowling Green. It will be an emotional afternoon as most home finales are, but for the 2014 campaign, I say good riddance and bring on 2015. Before we close the book, though, there’s still 120 minutes of football to play this season and it’s time to Better Know the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Team: Eastern Michigan Eagles
Record: 2-8 (1-5)
Ranking: Unranked
Head Coach: Chris Creighton
Series: Ball State leads 32-21-2
Last Meeting: Ball State defeated EMU 51-20 in Ypsilanti in 2013

Eastern Michigan Head Coach Chris Creighton…
… is in his first season as the Eagles’ head coach, after a successful stint at Drake University where he departed with the highest win percentage in program history.
… is not a stranger to the Hoosier State, having spent seven seasons as the head coach at Wabash College. He also served four years as the offensive coordinator at Manchester College.
… has a career record of 141-53, and if you take away the 2-8 this season for EMU it’s even more impressive.

When it comes to EMU versus the Cardinals…
… this contest will be the 56th meeting between the teams.
… Ball State holds a three game win streak over the Eagles, but their last win against Ball State did come in Scheumann Stadium, an overtime win in 2010.
… that 21-point EMU comeback in the 2010 win was the largest comeback in EMU school history.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles…
… have landed senior tight end Tyreese Russell on the midseason Mackey Award Watchlist for the nation’s top tight end. He leads the Eagles in receiving with 29 catches for 393 yards.
… have a gamechanger on defense, with tackle Pat O’Connor leading the MAC in sacks and ranking 2nd in the conference in tackles for loss.
… put the special in special teams, blocking six kicks so far this season, 5 of them kicks, one of them punts.

Saturday. 2pm. Senior Day. Is there any more reason needed than that?!


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