After two seasons of not traveling to Nashville, the Ball State Wizardz return to Nashville for the 2018 Music City Tune-up.
In the 2016 season, the Wizardz finished in second place, losing to Valparaiso on Universal Point. It comes into this weekend’s tournament only eight players from that team.
“We are a completely different team than the last time we went to this tournament,” captain Garrett Fuelling said. “We have lost 80% of the touches from that team to graduation.”
Now those players are going into jobs, while the Wizardz keep working on reaching Regionals again. One of the players not on the team in 2016 was sophomore Jaden Jarrett.
Jarrett, like the other 15 players on the roster, doesn’t have that taste of second place in their mouths like the juniors and seniors do. Jarrett said this is the moment he has been waiting for, since the fall season.
“I think a lot of the guys are ready to go out there and play and get some stuff off of their minds,” Jarrett said. “That’s one thing that I’m looking forward to is going out there and playing. Just having a weekend where I can just play the game I love to play.”
The team loves to play this game. In this tournament, the team is in Pool B with host Vanderbilt, Alabama-Huntsville, Middle Tennessee State and Xavier. It will play Vanderbilt first on Feb. 24 in pool play. Fuelling said Vanderbilt is a well-established program.
“It will be a test of our mental focus and preparedness for our first game outdoors,” Fuelling said. “We will have to limit easy mistakes and get used to playing outdoors quickly. If we come out strong we should be able to get a good win to start our season off.”
In other pools, Eastern Plains Conference foes Purdue and Southern Indiana are in Pool A, while Kentucky is in Pool D. With four EPC teams, this tournament is going to be big for the conference.
“Kentucky and Purdue are for real,” Fuelling said. “Southern Indiana will not be at the same level as last year. They graduated some good players. Other than Sevenish, they won’t have a lot of top talent.”
But the Wizardz will need to be on its A game this weekend. The tournament is on Vanderbilt’s campus and the first game starts at 9:30 a.m. against host Vanderbilt on Feb. 24.