Coach upset by lack of intensity
There was a terrific comeback, but what does it matter when the Mad Ants still lose 115-100 to the bottom-dwelling Delaware Blue Coats? What does it matter when the coach, Steve Gansey, is yet again bemoaning the lack of intensity from some of his players?
“There are certain players on this team that play a lot and are going to play a lot, and they have to bring it every single night because there are a lot of players in this league that want their jobs,” Gansey said, after the Mad Ants (9-9) shot 37.6 percent from the field, compared to the 48.2-percent shooting of the Blue Coats (7-12).
Rob Gray led Fort Wayne with 18 points. Alize Johnson had 17 points and 14 rebounds for his ninth straight double-double. Omari Johnson had 14 points and Ike Anigbogu had 13 points and 16 rebounds as the Mad Ants wore “SpongeBob SquarePants” uniforms on Nickelodeon Night that were auctioned off to benefit the Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House.
Fort Wayne’s Stephan Hicks had 13 points to surpass C.J. Fair as the third-leading scorer in franchise history; with 1,822 points he trails only Ron Howard (4,324) and Walker Russell (2,083).
But it was little consolation for the Mad Ants on a night they rallied from 22 points down, thanks to long-range shooting, and couldn’t capitalize.
Cameron Oliver’s dunk had put the Blue Coats up 74-52, but an alley-oop from Tra-Deon Hollins to Hicks got the Memorial Coliseum crowd of 2,744 excited with 5:09 left in the third quarter. And then the Mad Ants made four consecutive shots : all from 3-point range : with three straight coming from Omari Johnson and one from Gray to cut the Delaware lead to 79-72 with 2:58 left in the quarter.
The Mad Ants came in averaging 10.3 made 3-pointers (17th among the G League’s 27 teams) and their shooting percentage from beyond the arc was 35.3 (ranking eighth). They finished the game 10 of 30 from beyond the arc, including Omari Johnson’s 3 for the short-lived 82-80 lead with 11:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, but things fizzled quickly.
D.J. Hogg’s dunk with 5:14 left put the Blue Coats ahead 100-89.
Shake Milton finished the game with 27 points for Delaware, which left Gansey frustrated with his team’s inability to generate consistent efforts.
“Every single night is an opportunity for these guys to showcase their basketball skill and what they can do on the floor,” Gansey said. “They need to continue to embrace these opportunities, and some guys didn’t embrace that and didn’t play hard for 48 minutes or just their minutes. Some games, you’re off offensively or the shots aren’t falling or (you) are turning the ball over, but you can impact the game in different ways, too, especially on the defensive end.”
Hicks said the players understand the onus is on them to improve things beginning Sunday, when the Mad Ants play 5 p.m. at the MTI Center at Trine University in Angola against the Greensboro Swarm.
“It starts with ourselves,” Hicks said. “Individually, we’ve got to bring the energy. We can’t rely on the coaches to bring us the energy. Individually we’ve got to come with the energy and that starts with us.”