By: Kyle Sellers
Ball State Sports Link
The Sycamores come to Worthen Arena, coming off a 1-2 slate at the Myrtle Beach Invitational where they played some quality competition. They started the tournament with a dominant win over Old Dominion. Then back-to-back 14-point losses to two quality opponents in a revamped Oklahoma squad and WAC powerhouse New Mexico State.
The program is under new leadership for the first time in 12 years, as first-year head coach Josh Schertz takes over the program.
Schertz joins the program following a 13-year tenure at NCAA Division-II Lincoln Memorial University, where he compiled a 337-69 (.831) career record and won four national coach of the year awards. Schertz guided the Railsplitters to ten NCAA Division II Tournament berths, 14 conference championships, three Southeast Regional crowns, and five seasons of 30-plus wins.
Indiana State is in a similar boat like Ball State; both teams are pretty young. With seven freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors, and one lone senior in Tyreke Key, who announced he was having season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this month. Picking up where he left off last year, Cooper Neese has been a critical piece for the Sycamores. The junior is scoring a team-best 16 points per game while also grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game. Neese has shot 82.6 percent from the charity stripe and 32.6 percent from three-point land. Neese has scored double figures in all six games this season, including five games where he has scored 17 points or more.
Along with Neese is Cameron Henry, who followed Coach Schertz from Lincoln Memorial. He has been dominant, scoring double-digits in his first six games, dropping 25 on Oklahoma, along with a pair of double-doubles. The last piece of the ISU big three is one of the newcomers. Freshman Micah Thomas from Northwest Florida State College averaging 14.6 points per game, shooting a little over 39 percent from three.
Saturday’s meeting with Ball State will be the 136th all-time between the two programs. Indiana State leads the series 73-62 and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals with a 67-57 win at home on Dec. 19, 2020. ISU has won six of the last ten meetings in the series.