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Ants look to end turnovers

January 2, 2019

Protecting the ball is essential for the Mad Ants as they try to break from their doldrums.

Amazingly, the Mad Ants (9-10) went into Tuesday night atop the Central Division with their .474 winning percentage, despite averaging 17.1 turnovers per game : 11th most among the G League’s 27 teams.

“We’ve got to communicate better,” said rookie forward Alize Johnson, who has averaged 18.4 points and 14.5 rebounds for 12 double-doubles in 14 games.

“Everybody has to stay connected. That’s something that we didn’t do down the stretch (Sunday) and we’ll get better at it.”

In Sunday’s 110-104 loss to the Greensboro Swarm at the MTI Center at Trine University in Angola, the Mad Ants turned the ball over 25 times, which led to 26 Swarm points in front of 2,651 fans.

Fort Wayne hasn’t been particularly noteworthy for sharing the ball either : it’s averaging 20.4 assists, 25th most in the league : but the penchant for giveaways is rankling coach Steve Gansey.

“We’ve just got to take care of the ball. That’s one of our biggest things. We’re turning the ball over way too much,” Gansey said, adding that teams particularly good in transition, as Greensboro was, are able to exploit the Mad Ants. “We’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ve played 19 games and it can’t show like that.”

Today, the Mad Ants face the Westchester Knicks (15-7) at 7 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York.

The fluctuations to the Mad Ants’ roster haven’t helped, as Johnson, Edmond Sumner, Ike Anigbogu and Davon Reed have gone to the Indiana Pacers and back all season long, but there should be more consistency now in the back court that helps.

Sumner is averaging 21 points, 3.7 assists and 4 turnovers in nine games. Tra-Deon Hollins is averaging 6.9 points, 8 assists and 2.8 turnovers in 17 games. Rob Gray is averaging 14.6 points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 turnovers in 17 games.

Stephan Hicks, who also sees significant back-court time, has averaged 15.9 points, 0.8 assists and 1.7 turnovers in 19 games. Elijah Stewart has also been getting more minutes.

The Mad Ants, who play host to Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Coliseum, agree that limiting turnovers comes down to better communication.

“It’s being connected as one,” Sumner said.

“I’m thinking someone’s jumping to the corner and he’s not there, so we’ve got to communicate better and just play as a unit.”

jcohn@jg.net

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