AP NEWS

Gansey wants Ants to ‘finish strong’

March 19, 2019

Asked about his hopes for the final three games of the regular season, Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey couldn’t have been more clear Monday.

“Finish strong,” he said.

A 121-103 road loss Saturday to the Capital City Go-Go took Fort Wayne out of the postseason hunt for the second time in four years since the Indiana Pacers took over ownership of the Mad Ants.

Fort Wayne had reached the Eastern Conference semifinals last year, though this season’s team is composed mostly of first- and second-year players, so growing pains were to be expected.

The Mad Ants still have an opportunity to finish strong, beginning with today’s 7 p.m. game at Memorial Coliseum against the Wisconsin Herd (12-35), which has former Indiana University player Robert Johnson and former Notre Dame player Bonzie Colson. Wisconsin has the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

The Mad Ants (21-26) will conclude their regular season with a game at 7 p.m. Thursday against the Greensboro Swarm (23-24) in Greensboro, North Carolina, then have the finale at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum against the Grand Rapids Drive (25-21).

“Every opportunity, whether it’s Game 1 or Game 50, the opportunity is there to showcase from an individual standpoint,” Gansey said. “And we want to continue to try and get three wins in a row here. That’s our goal.”

The Mad Ants expect to have a full complement of players today, including their three Pacers players : rookie forward Alize Johnson, guard Edmond Sumner and two-way contracted player Davon Reed.

“It’s coming down to the end of the NBA season and those three guys will be with the Pacers when we’re done, so we want to get those guys as much opportunity and minutes as we can to get them ready for the end of the regular season and the playoffs,” Gansey said.

The Mad Ants have lost two of their last three games.

“It’s been inconsistent with just our play on both ends, offensively and defensively,” Gansey said. “Some games, we’re sharing the ball and some we’re not as well. We haven’t had good shooting nights, either, and it’s just been inconsistent since the (All-Star) break.”

At tonight’s game, there will be a Madame Ants poster giveaway.

For Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Night, the Mad Ants will have a bobblehead giveaway featuring the Mad Ant mascot portrayed as Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne atop his horse, a spin on the statue at Main and Clinton streets in Freimann Square.

A $5 portion of tickets bought to the Saturday game at www.groupmatics.events/event/turnstone will benefit Turnstone, which has services and programs for people with disabilities.

jcohn@jg.net