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When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday
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Frustrating season nearly over

Ants coach tries to stay positive

– The 2011-12 Mad Ants season has been, in a word, frustrating.

“It’s been frustrating not to achieve what I thought we would achieve going into the season,” forward Darnell Lazare said.

“Definitely frustrating,” guard Ron Howard said. “We’ve all had our ups and downs, and all of us have been frustrated when certain games have gotten away from us.”

And yet Steve Gansey, the 26-year-old assistant who was elevated to head coach 15 games into the season after veteran Joey Meyer was fired, goes into the final two games tonight and Saturday much the way he began his odyssey.

“You’ve got to stay positive,” Gansey said. “When I took over, the one thing I wanted to bring to the team was a positive attitude and a positive energy.

“I keep telling these guys, ‘People are still evaluating. There’s going to be NBA scouts at your games. People are watching you. There’s going to be an NBA summer league this year, and you want to stay professional.’ ”

But Gansey admits that his head coaching experience has been a struggle.

After a 5-10 beginning, Meyer was released hours before the Jan. 6 game at Canton, Ohio, and Gansey, who had no previous head coaching experience, was thrust into the role in a league one step below the NBA.

Although the Ants lost at Canton that night, they returned home the following evening and beat Canton 107-98.

Since a 5-6 beginning under Gansey’s tenure, the Ants (13-35) have been in a free fall, winning three times and losing 19, including all 10 games in February.

Wednesday, Fort Wayne claimed a 98-94 victory at Canton.

“From being an assistant coach for two years and taking over the reins as head coach, I’ve learned a lot,” Gansey said. “I will make mistakes, but you can’t make the same mistakes.

“Overall I have a lot more confidence in myself. I have a lot more knowledge in terms of basketball situations and stuff. I just wish there were two or three more months in the season.”

Instead, only two games remain in the worst of the Mad Ants’ five seasons, all of them losing ones.

Team president and general manager Jeff Potter said from the beginning that Gansey’s job was on an interim basis and that an evaluation would be made after the season ended.

“We haven’t talked about it,” Gansey said. “I understand the whole business. Just like players, if they don’t play well, they’re out.

“I’d love to be back. I’d love to have that whole preparation, the training camp. I did have some time to turn it around, but I didn’t.

“I wish I could get another shot at it right from the start so I’m more prepared and know what to expect-type thing.”

stwarden@jg.net

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