FORT WAYNE – Fourteen days, four games, eight halves. And either two or 2.5 wins, depending how you look at it.
Thats the thumbnail anatomy of a road trip for the IPFW mens basketball team – for whom tonights homecoming game against Dartmouth in Memorial Coliseum will be a literal homecoming and perhaps a chance to apply some things they learned about themselves out there in the Land of the Exit Ramp.
One thing they learned: Seven good halves are not as good as eight. Nor are 19 as good as 20.
Weve played 20 halves of basketball this year, head coach Tony Jasick says of his 6-4 Mastodons, who came within one lost half of going 3-1 on the road trip.
Weve played 19 of those pretty well. Give or take a possession here and there, but when you look at the big picture, pretty well.
The 20th half, of course, was the last one – the second half Tuesday in Oxford, Ohio, in which Miami, previously winless, outscored the Mastodons by 23 points en route to a startling 94-87 victory.
It dimmed slightly the good work not only in the first half, when IPFW bolted to a 16-point lead on the wings of what would be a school-record 15 3-pointers, but of the previous game, in which the Mastodons marched into Champaign, Ill., and fought a Big Ten opponent to the bitter end in a 57-55 loss to Illinois.
In both, there were lessons.
We just got beat, senior forward Michael Kibiloski says of the Miami game. We didnt come to play in the second half. Coach told us at halftime that we needed to come out and get ready to get punched in the mouth, because thats what Miami was going to do. They did it, we just didnt respond. And we paid for it, said Kibiloski, who is shooting 21 of 51 (42.1 percent) on 3-pointers.
And the Illinois game?
Jasick focuses on one stat: 2 of 13 free throw shooting
Its another scenario where we have to do better over the course of the year of controlling what we can control, he says. Two-for-13 from the free throw line is something we can control.
We cant control an officials call, we cant control our environment, we cant control sometimes whether our shots are going in or out. We can control our approach, and I think that Illinois loss really put that in perspective. And I hope that there was some value in that game moving forward.
Moving forward, of course, being something to which the Mastodons devoted this week with a Dartmouth team coming thats 3-2 after a 64-57 loss at Northern Illinois.
The thing about this group is I think weve got good character, Jasick says. Our guys understand kind of what happened (at Miami), and how thats not what were trying to do.