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11.16.11 | Men's Basketball

MBB Off and Rolling

11.16.11 | Men's Basketball

Coach Ballard has Wildcats off and rolling to 5-1 start

5-1 start

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. – Brett Ballard, second-year head coach of the Baker University men’s basketball team, realized it would take a little time for the players to understand his philosophy.

“The guys coming in knew what to expect this season,” Ballard said. “The new guys we brought in increased our talent and we’ve really gelled as a team. They’ve worked hard as a group and that’s helped us get off to this good start.”

The Wildcats defeated Harris Stowe State 66-52 on Tuesday, improving their record to 5-1. It is the program’s best start since the 2006-07 season.

“Jack Shortell deserves a lot of credit,” Ballard added. “He goes out there and sets the tone for us. The thing is he’s not the most skilled guy, but he just wills himself to get rebounds and to make easy plays. He’s played fantastic, and there’s no doubt he’s the focal point of this team.”

The Wildcats have 12 players, including seven newcomers, averaging 11 or more minutes per game.Jordan Honore

“We kind of platoon,” Ballard said. “It can be a different guy on every night. They’ve bought into the fact that we’re going to play 10 to 12 guys each night. Each guy knows they’ve got to come in and play hard for their three to four minutes.”

Newcomer guards Jordan Honore (Stafford, Texas) and Ben Steinlage (Corning, Kan.) currently lead the team with 14.1 and 11.6 points per game, respectively.

“Nobody’s stats are going to wow you this season,” Ballard said. “Jordan (pictured) is the one guy who might stand out statistically. Ben Steinlage has also been really solid. He and Jack (Shortell) really play well off each other.”

Ballard believes the team needs to keep focusing on improving in practice every day. Starting on Friday, the Wildcats play three games in four days against McPherson College (Kan.), Bethany College (Kan.), and Ottawa University (Kan.), before hosting Avila University on Dec. 1 for the Heart of America Athletic Conference opener.

“We haven’t talked much about what’s beyond today,” Ballard said. “I think our goal will be to enter conference play on a high note. The teams we’ve played have been decent, but we understand that once we get to HAAC play, things will really ramp up. I think it’s going to be an exciting year.”

View the full updated season stats here.

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