INDIANAPOLIS – Revenge.
First-year IPFW coach Jon Coffman insists that’s not what took place during his team’s 69-54 win over IUPUI on Wednesday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Instead, it was simply a progression of the Mastodons’ meticulous ascent up the Summit League standings.
The month of January included a 23-day stretch that featured one win in seven games. Now IPFW is 3-0 in February, winners of its past six games with no end in sight.
“We finally built our chemistry and built our trust,” sophomore point guard Mo Evans said. “Everybody is playing hard and we’re trying to put together the pieces of this puzzle.”
Next for IPFW is Denver, where it travels Feb. 19 after a week off. Coffman hasn’t veered from his one-game-at-a-time mentality.
“We’re not building up any one game,” Coffman said. “There’s no game until we get to the first round of the tournament that’s determining anything. This is the next game. This is the most important game on our schedule right now.
“Our thought is we want to have pride. That’s one our of core values.”
Evans, who’s gone thorough his own growing pains, has occupied a front-row seat to IPFW’s turbulent season. After being named the Summit League’s sixth man of the year, he took on a new role as the team’s starting point guard. His shooting percentage plummeted, which led to other areas of his game being out of sorts.
But Evans – as well as the rest of the team – took a long look at himself after IPFW faltered to 1-5 following a loss at South Dakota State in January. His 3-point percentage is still lagging, but offensive efficiency is rising.
“Everybody had to take responsibility and take on whatever role they had so we could win games,” Evans said. “My role is to be a leader, get everyone going, keep everyone competitive and be a playmaker.”
So here sits IPFW in fourth place, a few notches lower than expected in October, but in an entirely different hemisphere than anyone could have believed just three weeks ago.
“I think there’s going to be a great advantage to our struggles,” Coffman said. “It serves you well in tournament play. You can coach them in the midst of a game because you can reference points where we struggled during the year, and guys don’t want to go back to that. We have their ears, they’re going to be coachable.”