FORT WAYNE – For the IPFW men’s basketball team, the question is obvious this week.
Just how sweet is home, anyway?
Upon the answer hang the rest of February and maybe the rest of the season, now that the Mastodons are back in the snowfields of northeast Indiana instead of the snowfields of North and South Dakota. First place in the Summit League and a lot of mojo went missing in those trackless wastes last week, as South Dakota State buried the flat Mastodons 79-51 and North Dakota State beat them 69-58 thanks to a 16-4 start.
I was not pleased at all with our effort on Thursday, especially in the second half, IPFW coach Tony Jasick critiqued this week. Now, on Saturday, I think you’ve got to give a lot of credit to North Dakota State. I thought they came out and may have played as well as I’ve seen them play in a long time the first however many minutes.
But I don’t think our guys necessarily played poorly. I do think our guys battled and competed the entire night.
To be sure, they got it down to four points with about a minute left and had a 3-pointer in the air to cut it to one. But the shot didn’t go down, and so the Mastodons did.
Now they stand 18-8 and tied for second at 6-3 in the conference as they come home to play South Dakota tonight and Denver on Saturday.
It’s a big week, says Jasick, whose team is 11-1 in the Gates Center.
Senior forward Michael Kibiloski agrees.
(We just have to) get back to doing what we do best, he said. That’s communicating on defense, and offense moving the ball. We were kind of stagnant in the two games out in the Dakotas. We just didn’t play to the best of our ability. We all know that.
So it’s just getting back to doing what we do.
That will include shooting better from the 3-point line, where the Mastodons were an uncharacteristic 12 of 40 in the two losses. And it includes getting to the glass betters; in the two losses in the Dakotas, the Mastodons were outrebounded 74-58.
I think it’s good we can show our guys some video from the first game with South Dakota State – areas where they hurt us, plays that we need to make in order to win a game like that, Jasick says. (Against North Dakota State) we did not do a great job on the glass, and we did not do a great job over the course of the game on some of our basic offensive stuff that you need to do if you’re to win a game like that.
Or games like the next two.
The Mastodons lost 75-61 at South Dakota last month and escaped Denver with a 67-64 victory. But they haven’t lost in the Gates since Dec. 29 and won three games by an average of 10.6 points on the last homestand.
It’s a week where we’ve got to come out and really attack our preparation, and then come out with a lot of fire and a lot of energy on Thursday, Jasick says.