vs. Detroit Mercy
Records: IPFW (3-3), Detroit (4-2)
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Coliseum
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
The IPFW men's basketball team showed poise and toughness in back-to-back losses last week to finish a difficult three-game road set in the Adolph Rupp Classic, and even though they're disappointed, they're hungry to put the experience to good use at home.
The Mastodons' return to Memorial Coliseum for a three-game homestand begins today against Detroit Mercy.
“When I scheduled the games, I knew this was going to be an adverse situation and a tough deal,” coach Jon Coffman said. “When I scheduled the tournament games three on the road, one at home, I felt like if we could split with the mid-majors, there'd be some success. Clearly this group is used to going in and competing everywhere you go.
“The fact that you go on the road, even though it was Kentucky and East Tennessee State, two really good teams, this group's disappointed. This group competed in both of them but ultimately didn't execute enough details to get wins in either one of them.”
With eight newcomers, the team turns to redshirt seniors Bryson Scott and Xzavier Taylor, redshirt junior John Konchar and junior Kason Harrell for guidance.
“All of those guys are fairly quiet guys,” Coffman said. “It's a bunch of guys and there's no entitlement. They're showing the young guys how it is to be tough and do the little things and the blue-collar work that makes us successful.
“It's a good role that they're taking on. Xzavier has always been that guy, but he's even more confident than ever now. The more confident he is, the more he knows our program, he has the appropriate things at the appropriate times. I've really seen John and Bryson step up with that. Kason does it more by his actions than his words. This kid gets his tooth knocked out and, two plays later, is back in and bruises his foot and he just battles through and plays 35 minutes two days later.”
In front of 22,000 fans at Rupp Arena on Wednesday, Scott imparted some knowledge from his own experience playing in big games.
“You just have to stay poised like we did and stick with the game plan that coach set out,” he said. “Everything will be all right if we do what is asked of us.
“Just to go out there and play hard, and play loose. Don't get into the atmosphere, the environment, try and play as hard as possible, do the details and we'll be all right.”
Scott leads the team with 21.7 points per game, with 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Konchar has 13.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, followed by Harrell's 13 points.
Detroit (4-2) is coming off a 131-69 win over NAIA Siena Heights. Its losses have come against Virginia Tech and Seattle, both part of the 2K Sports Classic.
Five players average double-figure scoring: Corey Allen (18.7 points), Kameron Chatman (17.8), Jermaine Jackson Jr. (12.8), Josh McFolley (11.5) and Tariiq Jones (10).
“It's about getting everyone on the same page and executing enough details to beat really, really good teams,” Coffman said. “In past years, we haven't had quite as challenging of a schedule. (Detroit has) really good guards, they have multiple bigs that throw multiple challenges at you.
“I think our guys are ready to play again. I think our guys are in a good mindset, they're hungry for more basketball, and I feel like they're going to attack this week.”