FORT WAYNE – The signature moment, of course, was Luis Jacobo from beyond the arc, 27 seconds to play, the ball rotating softly in the air and then nosing down with the W riding shotgun.
That isnt the first thing IPFW basketball coach Tony Jasick sees now, though, four days after his Mastodons beat Bradley 65-61 in Peoria, Ill.
The first thing he sees is the 12 points next to Isaiah McCrays name in the box score, and what that says about his basketball team right now.
Eighth different leading scorer weve had in 12 games, he observes.
And then: Ive touched on it before, but there is an unselfishness that comes with a stat like that. I think we have a number of guys who are unselfish. And I think our team is at its best when its playing unselfishly.
Four players scored in double figures for the Mastodons in Peoria, and five in an 80-64 rout of Dartmouth prior to that. That leaves IPFW 8-4 overall and 2-0 since what could have been a ruinous loss at Miami (Ohio), in which the Mastodons blew a 16-point halftime lead with their worst half of basketball this season.
But there have been no lasting effects, and Jasick thinks he knows why.
I think the biggest part for us is we just continue to play the game, he says, as his team prepares to face 2-7 SIU-Edwardsville tonight in a womens-mens doubleheader at the Gates Center. I know that sounds odd, but early in this season, as weve played in close games, weve had a tendency to get tight or stop playing or stop being aggressive. But for the most part (against Bradley) we continued to play the game the right way as the game went down the stretch.
And played together, of course. Right now the Mastodons have seven players averaging between eight and 13 points, and theyve continued to get a lift inside from 6-foot-9 Steve Forbes, who had a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) against Bradley and hit the clinching free throws.
I think he is getting more comfortable, Jasick says. You know, he really didnt play the last two years. He obviously redshirted last year, but the year before that he played very little because of an injury. And so hes getting comfortable playing again.
Hes starting to get a little more comfortable with how the game is going to be officiated, and for him its a hard deal with his size and strength. And I also think our team is continuing to improve on getting him the ball. (Against Bradley) he was a major factor for us offensively, and defensively hes playing harder. When he takes up space in the middle it helps us on the glass.
Jasick insists the Mastodons will need that help against SIU-Edwardsville, whose seven losses include three to Arkansas, Oregon State and St. Louis, and four by five points or fewer.
Central Michigan beat them by one, Loyola by one, Portland State by three, UC-Davis by five, Jasick says. So theyre a team thats right there. Itll be a true test for us.