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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Tyler Hansbrough of the Mad Ants shoots over Henry Ellenson of Grand Rapids, 2nd quarter, Friday.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017 6:00 pm

Stars must coexist for Mad Ants

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The biggest question I have for the Mad Ants, heading into Game 1 of their playoff series tonight against the Maine Red Claws, is: How will their two stars coexist?

This will be the first time that Tyler Hansbrough and Georges Niang will be on the court at the same time for the Mad Ants because Hansbrough was a healthy scratch in the regular-season finale.

I think it should be fine.

Niang has embraced the D-League experience in his rookie season, averaging 19 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in six games. Hansbrough, too, has been the tenacious player in the paint we expected but has also elevated the play of his teammates; he's averaged 17.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in 13 games.

The question is legitimate one because the chemistry of players, especially ones who have NBA contracts or experience, is not always good in the D-League. Ben Bentil, for instance, is a hugely talented player for the Mad Ants who got called up to the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, but when he's on the floor the dynamic totally changes because of his need to shoot.

For every Ron Howard there's a Jordan Crawford. Equally talented, but one of them needs to have the ball at all times, needs to have the offense run through him.

The Mad Ants, quite simply, are a better team when they spread the ball around and that's what they need to do against the champions of the Atlantic Division tonight.