IPFW has five players on its roster from Florida: Luis Jacobo, Pierre Bland, Herbert Graham, Kevin Harden and Steve Forbes.
The Mastodons won six of their last seven games last year to reach the Summit League tournament semifinals. They beat Oakland three times in that stretch, once by six points, once by two and, in the conference tournament, by 19.
Fifty-two points separated IPFW’s season high and season low last year. They scored 92 in a 92-22 win over Judson, and 40 in a 43-40 loss to Western Illinois.
With the exception of Frank Gaines’ 19.8 points per game, the Mastodons return all but 8.3 of their 67.1 points average from 2012-13.
Third-year IPFW coach Tony Jasick has won 27 games in his first two seasons, the most in Division I school history in that span.
4 games of interest
Nov. 29 at Illinois: The Mastodons’ only game against a Big Ten opponent this season. Last year, they played an SEC school (Auburn) and a Big East school (Notre Dame).
Jan. 9 vs. North Dakota State: The Summit League opener is the first of two big conference games in the Gates Center in three days. IPFW lost twice to the Bison last season.
Jan. 11 vs. South Dakota State: The back end of the almost-doubleheader features the defending conference champions and the team that ended the Mastodons’ season last year in the conference semifinals. IPFW lost three times to the Jackrabbits by 26, six and 16 points and haven’t beaten South Dakota State since Feb. 20, 2010.
Jan. 25 vs. IUPUI: First meeting of the season with the Mastodons’ downstate rival. The teams split last year, IUPUI winning 88-74 in Indianapolis and IPFW winning 80-79 in overtime in Fort Wayne.
3 key players
Luis Jacobo, Sr., F: Jacobo, a preseason second-team All-Summit League pick, is IPFW’s top returning scorer (11.4 ppg) and is the No. 2 returning rebounder (4.9 rpg). He’s the top returning three-point shooter, having made 68 a year ago.
Michael Kibiloski, Sr., F: At 6-foot-7, the versatile Kibiloski can play inside and out and figures to cause matchup problems. He averaged 3.9 rebounds in 27 games and also made 37 threes, second only to Jacobo among the 2013-14 Mastodons.
Isaiah McCray, Jr., G: In 21.3 minutes per game, the 6-foot McCray pulled down 108 rebounds, third among returning players, tied for the team lead in steals with 44 and had 82 assists, second only to Pierre Bland’s 97.
2 points of concern
How good will Kevin Harden be? The 6-foot-2 Harden was a sensation last year until going down with a season-ending knee injury. He started the 12 games he played and averaged 29 minutes, 6.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and a steal. If he comes back 100 percent, he’ll add a dimension to the lineup.
Will the bigs be big? With the exception of the departed Mario Hines, the Mastodons lacked a dominant presence on the low blocks a year ago. That won’t be case this year if 6-8, 290-pound Brent Calhoun and 6-9, 320-pound Steve Forbes develop as hoped.
1 major issue
Getting off on the right foot: The Mastodons finished the conference season with a rush in 2012-13, but the success of this year’s team will depend on opening with a rush. The Mastodons lost nine of their first 12 league games last year; that can’t happen again if they hope to contend for the conference title.