Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey didn’t mince words after the 119-101 loss to the College Park Skyhawks tonight in front of 888 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
“Obviously, we’re the worst team in the league. I never saw that coming,” he said of Fort Wayne’s 0-4 record – its worst four-game start in 13 years of play.
There were some snippets of good news for the Mad Ants: D.J. McCall, the former Concordia High School and IUPUI player, became the first Fort Wayne native to play for the Mad Ants and had three points and three rebounds; Stephan Hicks, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, became the 22nd player in G League history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds; and Fort Wayne’s 47.4% shooting was its best of the season.
But the Mad Ants were felled by a season-worst 24 turnovers and a lack of defensive tenacity that allowed the Skyhawks (2-2) to shoot 48.5% and make 18 of 43 shots from beyond the arc.
“Right now, we’re on a losing streak. We want to identify what our identity is. Right now, we’re a bunch of losers and we’ve got to turn that around,” Gansey said.
It’s true, the Mad Ants were missing a lot – Naz Mitrou-Long and Brian Bowen II were with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and Travin Thibodeaux injured – but the lack of passion on the defensive side has stood out this season.
“We’ve got to have a lot of energy and play physically,” Hicks said. “We’re small this year. That kind of hurts, but we’ve got to fight. All five have to be in there rebounding and helping the bigs on the boards. Once we do that, we should be alright and get a push on the offensive end.”
There really is more talent than an 0-4 record would indicate. There are tenacious defenders – McCall, Hasheem Thabeet, Hicks, Walt Lemon Jr. – and offensively it just hasn’t jelled yet.
Gansey said he needs to get players such as Lemon, Ike Nwamu and C.J. Wilcox in better positions to score.
“If they’re not going, then we’re going to have a very long year,” Gansey said.
Nwamu had 20 points, six assists and six rebounds. JaKeenan Gant had 19 points and nine rebounds. Lemon added 18 points, five assists and four rebounds.
“Thankfully it’s a very long season,” McCall said. “We all have trust in each other. The players and the coaching staff, we’ll make adjustments and we’ll figure it out.”