Coming off of a 5-18 season last year, the Burris varsity boys basketball team isn’t just focusing on changing its record: the players are focusing on the small details of every game.
So far, the Owls have yet to play a game on their own court, but the key to building up the team’s confidence while away from home is recognizing the small opportunities and taking them, said head coach Joseph Anderson.
“Well besides one game, we’ve been in every game this year. The score, it doesn’t indicate that, but if you look, just here recently we had the 2017, two-way -state champions on the ropes. We were actually down going into the fourth quarter by 4 points,” Anderson said.
“We were predicted to lose that game by close to 45-50 points and when you have an opportunity to defeat defending state champs on their court, you have to take advantage — small things matter.”
With a 0-4 record this season, Anderson said it’s important for the team to value each possession, communicate and play as a team. When it comes to meeting Yorktown (0-2) Friday, Nov. 30, the Owls need to identify the Tigers shooters, take care of the ball and not turn it over, Anderson said.
“We’re hoping to come away with a victory. Other than that, it’s a long season, I’m looking forward to our guys taking small steps towards turning [it] around. It’s like planting seeds, you want to watch those seeds grow. So, this year I’m hoping we will sprout,” Anderson said.
When the Owls met the Tigers at home last season (55-71), they fell behind in the second and third quarters. Which is something, senior center and forward James Roysdon said happened during the team’s Nov. 27 game against Frankton.
“In each game you can, even though we lost, you can go back and see where we had flashes of our tram coming together. So really, it’s just us putting it all together and being the team that we can be and then playing for four quarters,” Roysdon said.
“They’re defending state champs, we were within one in the third quarter, so I mean we can build a lot off that. Just because we weren’t supposed to be close in the game, but we can see we hung in there.”
Aside from learning from this season’s losses, junior point guard Alex Halley said tough practice helps build confidence.
“We’ve been working hard in practice every day, getting down defense, working extremely hard, running a lot,” Halley said. “It’s like practice is super hard and going at it with each other each and every day, coming in and out of the gym every night, or sometimes mornings, it’s like we basically just have to give it our all to get out a win.”
The Owls face off against the Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Yorktown.
After a hectic year of transition, Muncie Community Schools is looking to restore normalcy to the district. The new board has straightened out the bus schedule, worked on retention and hired new teachers.
Now, the board is trying to pull off a Christmas miracle.
During the Sept. 7 Ball State Board of Trustees meeting, Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities planning and management, said the board was hoping to have repairs done to the Fieldhouse sometime in December.
“So, with any luck by the middle and to the end of December, the roof damage is repaired and the floors back in shape and rest of it is just repairing damage to the lobby and locker room area. [It would] be done in small packages,” said Lowe, who is also a Muncie Community Schools board member.
“We were hopeful, I’m making no promises, that we will do something maybe around the Christmas Sing time period, but that’s a little aggressive right now, it might be now more the first part of January.”
A devastating storm
Nearly a year ago, an EF-1 tornado touched down in Muncie and left several neighborhoods, three Muncie schools and the Muncie Fieldhouse damaged. And though most of those damages were repaired in the weeks following the tornado, one building was left in ruins: the Fieldhouse.
Following the storm, Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler said it would take tens-of-millions of dollars to repair the Fieldhouse and other Muncie damages.
“If you look at the Fieldhouse … they probably got a 100,000 gallons worth of water in that facility before they were able to get the water shut off because that was a 4-inch water main that burst when the roof collapsed on it and broke it,” Tyler said in an interview the day after the November 2017 storm.
For months, the Fieldhouse sat, stoic, waiting for assessments from the insurance company to come it. Though the water was gone and the holes in the roof were patched, its bleachers sat empty (and continue to do so).
A rich history
Built in 1928, the Fieldhouse was meant to quench the desire for a new basketball facility. In 1922, talks about securing a new sports facility were started, but never came to fruition.
Then, Muncie Central High School won the state championship against Anderson High School (35-24). From then on, the building was used as a basketball court where many teams played, including the Harlem Globetrotters.
For Ray Ditzenberger the Fieldhouse was most known for basketball and the large, rowdy crowds that filled the arena each night to watch local teams face off.
“It was always a big deal to get to go to all the ball games, you know, sectionals and the county tourney both took up pretty much a whole week,” said Ditzenberger, who went to Yorktown High School. “So, every night after school kids were up at the Fieldhouse, watching ball games. That was a big deal back then. We didn't have a lot. Of course, basketball was a big deal in Indiana anyway.”
Though Ditzenberger has since moved to Spring Hill, Tennessee, he said losing the Fieldhouse would be a shame.
“It's just kind of a monument. I mean it's just always been there and everybody that lives in the county has memories from there. Everybody,” Ditzenberger said.
“It's just part of Muncie. Basketball in Muncie is a main activity. It's a main thing that the whole community revolves around, you know, the Bearcats have won several state championships and it’s just part of Muncie, it's a bigger part of Muncie then it is a lot of the towns in the state and the Fieldhouse is what that … symbolizes.”
However, the gym, which is the fifth largest high school gym in the United States, wasn’t just used to play basketball. Kay Rankin, 71, remembers the Fieldhouse as an annex building for McKinley Junior High School. Students, including herself, would walk to the Fieldhouse to take home economics, industrial arts or gym.
But, the Fieldhouse to Rankin, a lifelong Muncie resident, toted more than hosting basketball state championships. It meant more than the mundane walk she, along with countless classmates, made to the building every day for classes. It was a way to unite an otherwise divided community.
“The Fieldhouse has always been a building that has drawn this community, together. So, anytime there's an event at the Fieldhouse it kind of separates it whether it's north, south, east or west,” Rankin said. “It is a building that's centrally located and would pull the community together, not only for athletic events but, for entertainment events, As well. Of course, the Christmas Sing is the first thing that comes to mind.”
Though it’s still up in the air whether or not the Fieldhouse’s nostalgic wood floors and bright lights will be up and running before Christmas Sing, there’s one thing Rankin, Ditzenberger and many other Muncie-area residents agreed on: it would be a shame to lose the Fieldhouse — without it, a part of Muncie’s history is torn away from younger generations.
Before the Ball State men’s basketball team takes to the court Nov. 6 against Indiana State, sports writer Ryan O’Gara laid out what the season might look like for the team.
In his analysis, “Ball State men's basketball: 4 things I learned at media day,” O’Gara highlights potential key players, along with improvements players made in their off season.
Typically, this is usually one aspect of sports writing I don’t enjoy because it walks a fine line between subjectivity and objectivity. However, O’Gara’s insights on the upcoming season offer sharp commentary.
First and foremost, O’Gara gets into player improvements. Over the summer, O’Gara detailed guard Tayler Persons’ weight loss journey, along with the improvements he made over the summer after choosing to stay with Ball State’s program, after he easily could’ve suited up for the Power Five program during his last collegiate season. Though these analyses are shorter than the profile on Persons, they don’t skimp on the detail and aren’t solely focused on star players like center Trey Moses. For someone who wants to know how the program will move forward after a less-than-ideal season, O’Gara breaks down what could contribute to a turn-around season for the Cardinals.
O’Gara also narrows down who might be a part of coach James Whitford’s nine-man rotation. His prediction is Tayler Persons, Trey Moses, K.J. Walton, Kyle Mallers and Tahjai Teague will make up the starting five, with Brachen Hazen, Zach Gunn and Ishmael El-Amin playing significant minutes off of the bench. Though the season has yet to start, it gives readers an idea of who to watch throughout the season.
Though written with some first person, this piece offers valuable insight to someone who’s looking for the Cards to bounce back. O’Gara’s commentary on key players, along with expected rotations and commentary on relationships between players paints a picture of what appears to be an ideal season.
My only critique, which I touched on earlier, would be that I am not 100 percent comfortable with writer’s inserting themselves into stories. However, O’Gara doesn’t sacrifice his objectivity and the first person, which doesn’t appear too often, makes the piece conversational.
Becoming a cohesive, confident team was the focus for Burris’ varsity girls’ volleyball head coach Mike Dodrill. The team made sure his goal didn’t fall short during Tuesday’s game against Muncie Central.
The Owls swept the Bearcats (25-15, 25-12, 25-15). Freshman Lauren Nixon and senior MyKel Ivy each racked up 17 and 13 kills, respectively. Though members had individual stand out performances, the key to Tuesday’s win was cohesion and confidence.
“I feel good. I feel like we can drive off of this confidence and that’s going try to drive through practice this week. We’re going to want to obviously feel the same way all weekend, all the way up to sectionals even,” Ivy said. “I just think we have to remember the losses that we’ve had this season so that wins like this feel even better.”
Though kills by Nixon and Ivy helped set the team up for success, it was senior Katie Scott’s dozen-serve streak in the second set that helped secure the win for the team. Scott finished the game with 20 aces.
“It was a cohesive win. There wasn't like star player here today. I thought everyone did really well tonight," Scott said.
For Scott, maintaining the same confidence is important heading into ISHAA sectionals, where No. 3 Burris has a chance to meet No. 1 New Castle — her former high school.
“I really want to beat them just because I know all the girls and it's kind of — just coming here I just fell in love with the program. The girls are so nice, and the coaching staff is amazing. So, I just know how hard we work,” Scott said. “I just hope we can perform.”
Burris (24-4) will head into sectionals Oct. 11 to face Jay County (13-5). If Burris beats Jay County, they have a chance again to face off against New Castle (25-4).
“I thought we didn't play as well as we could've and a large credit is to them and doing what they do. They hit the ball hard and they hit the ball well and I tougher they gave us a pretty good match, but I didn't feel like we have them a pretty good match,” Dodrill said. “I think we got some more that we could give them. I think it's really going to be a good showdown.”
Arizona State pitcher Giselle Juarez shut down the South Carolina Gamecocks by almost throwing a no-hitter during Friday’s game. With eight strikeouts, Juarez helped keep the Gamecocks off the bases, leading to a 5-2 win over South Carolina.
Juarez held No. 11 South Carolina’s (49-16) offense in check by striking out hitters back to back while No. 6 Arizona State (44-11) scored three runs in the first two innings.
"Coach tells us to score early and score often. I think that when we score first, it's a good thing. It gives us momentum and it gets G [Juarez] fired up. It's awesome,” said Arizona State outfielder Morgan Howe.
The Sun Devils added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth after four hits and a Gamecocks fielding error.
“We had some great at bats. Jana [Johns] being one of them with a 14 pitch at bat. Mackenzie Boesel lined out hard to right, right fielder made a great diving play. So I thought we did hit some balls on the nose but who knows, maybe we were pressing too much,” said South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith.
In the top of the seventh, the Gamecocks registered their first hit, off a single up the middle by Alyssa VanDerveer. Kennedy Clark followed with a home run over the right field wall to put the Gamecocks on the scoreboard, 5-2.
Despite Clark’s late-game homerun, the Sun Devils’ offensive start dug a hole early in the game for the Gamecocks.
The writer I’m choosing to follow over the course of the semester is Ryan O’Gara with The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana. Over the summer, I interned with The Star Press, and I really took a liking to the style of O’Gara’s writing. He’s been with The Star Press for a couple of years and has been able to cover a nice range of stories. Now, he serves as the chief Ball State sports reporter, however, he still covers athletes in the Muncie area.
At The Star Press, the sports section is a little difference in the sense that sports aren’t covered traditionally. This is why I wanted to focus more on a sports writer at The Star Press. There, writers focus on finding sports for the non-sports fan, which is why I think I was so drawn to O’Gara’s reporting. O’Gara implements sharp observations in his reporting about the player’s performance though the use of statistics and overall season performance. However, his main content focuses on the feature aspect of sports, covering athletes and sports professionals in a way that makes me care about sports.
O’Gara utilizes strong verbiage throughout his pieces and creates visual images to help the reader be there with the subject. His writing engages me because it isn’t bogged down with sports jargon, rather uses simple language to illustrate a telling article. His work puts me there with the athlete, experiencing what they’re going through at a pivotal time of their career. Mainly, I think of O’Gara’s piece on Ball State men’s basketball team guard Tayler Persons. It followed his weight loss and training regimen over the summer to gear up for a new season. It made me appreciate the athlete experience more, while learning more about the Ball State sports community.
The only aspect I don’t enjoy about O’Gara’s work is sometimes it has the tendency to get editorial through the use of verbs that carry too much emotion.
Mary Freda is a senior news journalism and Spanish major at Ball State University.
In 2018, Mary was one of 10 students selected to participate in Hoosier State Press Association Pulliam Internship, where she was assigned to work at The Star Press as a general assignment, news reporter.
Currently, Mary works as a stringer reporter for The Commercial Review and The Star Press.