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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 07, 2017 8:27 pm

Mad Ants face navigable remaining schedule

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

After winning 105-92 against Raptors 905 on Tuesday night at Memorial Coliseum, the Mad Ants naturally were free to turn their attention to the remainder of the regular-season schedule and their odds of improving on second-place status in the Eastern Conference's Central Division. The D-League is always more about the future, of course, than the present.

Well, Fort Wayne's future includes another 21 games, 12 of which are on the road compared with just nine at home. At first glance, the mixture seems less than ideal for a Mad Ants team that has a so-so 8-5 road record.

But let's perform a little exercise involving Fort Wayne's remaining opponents and the records with which they began the week. We'll count each opponent's record as many times as they play the Mad Ants. For example, there are three matchups left with Canton, and the Charge came out of the weekend at 16-14, so we threw 48-42 into the mix in order to represent playing Canton three times.

The final tally for the combined records: 301-343. That means the Mad Ants' stretch run essentially comes against a schedule with a .467 winning percentage. Furthermore, only six games remain with the Western Conference, and four of those are against losing clubs.

See, not that daunting. The Mad Ants clearly have an opportunity to finish the season strong.

"Every game's important for us," All-Star Alex Poythress said. "We want to go in with the mindset of winning every game and just take that approach."

And now let's run the same numbers for Raptors 905, the team Fort Wayne is trying to catch. Raptors 905 actually has only 19 games to go, but 12 of them come away from home, and seven are against the Western Conference. Raptors 905 has three dates left with winning Western clubs compared to only two for the Mad Ants.

What about Raptors 905's overall strength of schedule? That adds up to 259-319 for a .448 winning percentage.

Raptors 905 coach Jerry Stackhouse said he has a "defensive team" and is "excited about what we can accomplish," which makes it sound as if Raptors 905 has a culture that won't experience any letup and will continue to push hard.

Rest assured, though, the Mad Ants plan to do the same.