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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Stephan Hicks of the Mad Ants drives the lane by Marshall Plumlee of Westchester, 1st quarter, Friday.

Friday, December 30, 2016 8:13 pm

Mad Ants got 'out-muscled' in loss

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Mad Ants were supposed to have a few days off before their next game, 7 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum against the Windy City Bulls, but coach Steve Gansey said he might rethink that.

The 94-92 loss tonight to the Westchester Knicks, as exciting as the finish might have been, was the type of game that drives coaches crazy because the players clearly weren’t focused on the task at hand.

“We got out-muscled. (The Knicks) were playing more physical than us throughout the whole game. And second, we weren’t together,” said Gansey, who believed the players were looking ahead to some time off.

“One of our biggest and best strengths is when we’re together. It’s when we’re moving the ball, sharing it offensively. And it’s when we’re talking, communicating on defense together, and then we get stops. We were not together tonight. Shots were not falling.”

Stephan Hicks, who totaled 16 points, including 10 points in the fourth quarter as Fort Wayne rallied back from an 11-point deficit, admitted the players weren’t focused as much as they should have been.

“I think we were thinking too much about the break. Guys were thinking about those days off. But we can’t think about that when there’s still a game to play,” Hicks said.

Trey McKinney Jones and Alex Poythress, a rookie, led Fort Wayne with 20 points apiece.

Westchester was paced by Von Wafer’s 18 points. Marshall Plumlee, a rookie out of Duke who hails from nearby Warsaw and is a prospect of the NBA’s New York Knicks, had 16 points, six rebounds and three shot blocks.

While Plumlees have been hit or miss in the NBA, Marshall looks like the real deal.

One has to wonder if the Knicks might have given other teams a script for how to play the Mad Ants: physically.

If the Mad Ants can establish more of an inside presence – rookie Adam Woodbury, who played his second game of the season, could be the key – then they will be tough to stop. But tonight the Mad Ants didn’t have the tenacity we usually see from them, at least not until the last five minutes or so.

We’ll see if the leaders – Julyan Stone, McKinney Jones and Travis Leslie – get the players in line before the next game.

jcohn@jg.net