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Big Weekend for Ball State Volleyball and the MAC

Ball State Men’s Volleyball Upsets No. 10 Ohio State

Ball State snapped an 11-match losing streak to Ohio State Sunday winning 3-2 (21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12) in one of the best performances I have seen in person as a Ball State fan.

The win meant clearing a mental hurdle for Ball State. Hopefully, Ball State can get back to winning MIVA championships in the future. Ohio State can no longer claim Muncie as a second residence and that is a start.

Whenever Ball State takes one from the juggernaut from Columbus it is time to celebrate.

What is shocking is this Ball State team only has one senior on the roster and were still able to win. Even more shocking is Ball State gave away the first and third sets as it had chances in both. This match did not have to go five sets.

The fact is men’s volleyball games are typically more exciting to the student body than basketball and football games in my four years here.

The men’s volleyball team has the ability to compete for national championships (few schools have a team) if adequately funded.  Coach Joel Walton has had to build a team with a meager amount of scholarships in the past. Tom Collins has increased the team’s budget in recent years but it could be a moot point when the new athletic director comes in.

President Gora has a huge decision ahead of her. She could find an athletic director that is all about football and let the other sports fight for themselves. Or she could hire one who is dedicated to the “Olympic” sports. Mid-majors like Ball State do not have the resources to go all out in both.

Personally, I want the latter. The geography favors Ball State in both basketball  and volleyball.  Muncie is the volleyball capital of the Midwest and the state is loaded with great basketball players. Indiana is weaker than Ohio and Michigan in terms of high school football talent.

Given the chance, the men’s and women’s volleyball programs can do some special things. I hope the new athletic director is more than accommodating to those programs.

Billy Taylor is Back

Collins made it clear that Billy Taylor will be returning as men’s basketball coach next season. In other news women’s basketball coach Kelly Packard bit her last fingernail as no word has come down on her future.  The fingernail part is a joke but why say one coach is back without mentioning the other?

Here is a quote from Collins in the news release.

“When we hired Coach Taylor we knew we were in for a major rebuilding project in regards to our men’s basketball program. When he became our coach prior to the 2007 season, we had to address many concerns within the program.  There were on-court issues, academic issues, APR and compliance concerns.  In addition, we had severe community and public relations issues.  Coach Taylor and his staff have done an outstanding job and worked tirelessly to improve our program in many areas.  Although, we were all disappointed with the 2011-12 season, it will not deter us from reaching all of our goals with the program and with its place in Ball State University’s mission.”

There is enough spin in that paragraph to make Bill O’Reilly sick. We do not know how much impact of having a lame duck athletic director had to do with this but given the flimsy “APR” defense we know it had quite a bit. Nothing inspires fan support and sells tickets like good APR scores.

Nice smile Billy. That is more emotion than what we see in some of your games.

The new argument for Ball State having a chance next season in the Muncie Star Press is the quantity of 3-point shooters. Ball State had plenty of 3-point shooters this past year so it is not an argument that makes a great deal of sense.

Ball State needs guard Juwan Scaife back to his former self. Once Taylor benched him in favor of other guards he became frustrated. If Scaife is not a key part of the offense and fails to take the role as senior leader the season will be get away from Ball State quick.

Ohio Advances to the Sweet Sixteen

With Ohio showing up Big Ten and Big East teams I hope the days of the MAC champion getting a 13 seed or worse are over.  Akron was a 15 last year and Ohio was a 14 two years ago.

MAC fans know the conference is better than that as the rest of the country is discovering. Akron was not even seen as bubble team this year. We will see a MAC school get an at-large bid to the big dance sometime this decade. Maybe Ball State will be that team with their amazing 3-point shooting next year.

While we are at it maybe Newt Gingrich will be president.

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