FORT WAYNE – Second-year coach Tony Jasick insists the only sure thing with his IPFW men’s basketball team is there are no sure things.
Translation: Don’t assume a starting position.
Sophomore guard Isaiah McCray has gotten the hint. If he is to be the Mastodons’ starting point guard this season, it’s a job he’s going to have to win and not inherit.
Last year, as a freshman out of Baltimore, McCray was learning the ropes of college basketball. There were good days and bad; games such as against UT Martin, when he had 11 points and five assists; and a handful of nights when he had more turnovers than points.
But when the supposed point guard of the future, Jonny Marlin, decided IPFW wasn’t the place for him and took his 30 games and 28 starts and 3.5 assists per game to Indiana University as a walk-on, the Mastodons were in search of a starting point man.
And there was Isaiah McCray, who just happened to play point guard while leading his high school team to back-to-back Class 3A state championships.
I’m well experienced at the spot, in general, McCray said. Last year I kind of played a lot of combo. This year I’ll be the primary point guard, and I’m ready for the position.
But Jasick says hold on. Pierre Bland, a 6-2 junior from Florida State College, a junior college in Bland’s hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., has been impressive in practices.
I don’t know if we have anybody on our team I can say is a lock, Jasick said. It’s a matter of how that shakes out over the next three or four weeks.
Averaging 13.5 minutes over the 25 games last season, McCray’s numbers were pedestrian. He had 24 assists, 22 turnovers and a 2.5 scoring average. And yeah, he admits, when he didn’t have the ball in his hands, he felt a little out of sorts.
You never know what you’re going to play once you step onto the floor, switching off at each position, McCray said.
It feels a lot better (at point guard). It’s a lot more comfortable.
Jasick likes the competition at all positions, and simply sees the point guard spot as a place with depth.
I’m happy with Ike, Jasick said. I think he’s making progress. He’s a competitor, and he’s a winner, and he has the ability to be one of the better defenders in our league. He’s a guy we can count on. He’s not an emotional roller coaster. He’s a solid guy, and he’s got a lot of attributes you want from somebody that runs your team on the floor.