I must admit I did not see this coming.
While this is a Ball State football blog Ball State basketball is my favorite sport on campus. I have never left Worthen Arena saying “Man, I wish I did not go to the game.” I can’t say the same for Scheumann Stadium.
But after the Cardinals crashed and burned a season ago and saw key players transfer I assumed the 2012-13 season would be one to forget. So much so I chose to not attend a single home game this year. Not being a student living in Muncie anymore made that an easy goal.
For most of the season it appeared to be a smart choice. In November, Ball State was getting demolished at home by the likes of Indiana State. December and January were not that much better as the Cardinals were dropping winnable MAC games. The low point being a second half disappearing act in a lost to cannon fodder Central Michigan back in January.
A home loss to Ohio on Feb. 6 caused a series of tweets that were truly embarrassing. Even the Code Red Dance seemed to be on defensive boasting about having to stay the whole game.
The past few games though a switch has turned on. That switch being Senior guard and Muncie native Jauwan Scaife. Scaife has become the offensive weapon we thought he would be this past month starting with a 30-point outburst in a home win over MAC West leader Western Michigan. The Cardinals have won five of their last six and Scaife has been hitting his threes going 11-20 from behind the arc the past two games.
Ball State scored a big road win at Toledo Saturday bringing Ball State’s record to 13-14 (6-8 MAC). With the win the Cardinals are a lock to host a first round game of the MAC tournament. Something they were unable to do in last year’s wrecked season. A win at Western Michigan (unlikely) and a win versus Northern Illinois (take it to the bank) and Ball State will finish above .500. Even better, Ball State may slide up to a top 5 seed and grab a first round bye in the MAC tournament. This season was supposed to be a throw away to just get a new athletic director comfortable but it now has the chance to do some real positives. Who knows, if Ball State does damage in the MAC tournament Taylor may the coming back next year. Yes, I wrote this a year ago but it is not too late for Taylor to turn it around. When a team does not quit on its coach that is a great sign.
It looked like players quit on Taylor last year, partly because some thought he quit on them. I know from a source that even Scaife was upset about his role on the team last year and thought about leaving the team. That is why I am so happy to see Scaife perform the way he is right now. His freshman year Ball State fans were excited about his potential. That potential seemed to never materialize during his sophomore and junior years as Scaife lost playing time to guard Jesse Berry. Berry will probably be the face of the team next year for sure… assuming he does not transfer like his former teammates.
But for Scaife this is the happiest I have been for a Ball State athlete in a few years. It is not easy playing college ball in your hometown. College basketball is the hardest sport for an athlete to spend four years in one place because the player movement is so fluid compared to other sports. He truly has had to stick it out through some tough situations and will exit his senior year with nothing else to prove. Instead of saying “Jauwan Scaife had potential,” Ball State fans will be saying “Thank God that Jauwan Scaife kid persevered in his four years here.”
This program will more than likely be overhauled in the next few months, but because of Jauwan Scaife the 2012-2013 season is not something to be discarded just yet. Did not think I would say that three months ago. Heck, I might even drive up from Indy for the Northern Illinois game Saturday. How much are gas prices again?
Nathan Pace is a 2012 Ball State graduate and writes for the Southsider Voice newspaper.