The Coyotes will get a load of Ball State in the coming days with a game on Saturday in Indiana and another next week at the DakotaDome. The Cardinals (3-4) lost three starters from last year’s 15-15 (6-10 in the MAC) squad. They got a taste of No. 1 Indiana earlier this season, losing 101-53. They also lost to Butler, Indiana State and Cleveland State.
Leading scorer is Majok Majok, a 6-9, 245-pound Australian who is a junior-college transfer. Majok is averaging 13.7 points and 10.1 rebounds a game. Jesse Berry, a 6-2 junior, is averaging 12.7 points a game.
Ball State has not shot well this year, hitting 38 percent from the field overall and a frosty .248 on 3-pointers. They’re 27-of-109 from beyond the arc. (USD is 68-188).
The Coyotes are coming off an 87-63 loss to Iowa in Iowa City. It wasn’t a terrible effort by USD, just an uneven one. The Hawkeyes brought numbers on the boards and it made it difficult for the Coyotes to keep up. I thought Trevor Gruis fared about as well as could be expected underneath — Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffery was very complimentary of the visiting post player’s performance — but Gruis himself said afterward that he and freshman Tyler Flack have to do a better job of controlling the area under the basket. Flack definitely had his moments, too. He didn’t look out of place as a true freshman facing a Big 10 team, though both he and the rest of the inside defense tended to struggle in keeping track of the Hawkeye bigs.
The main area where it appeared to me that Coach Dave Boots was most encouraged involved the quality of shots they were able to find against the Iowa defense. These shots didn’t go in often enough, obviously, but they were getting decent looks at the basket most times down the court.