My name's Ben and I'm gonna be writing about the Mad Ants throughout this year over here in the Fan Posts when I have some free time (which is usually the case). I meant to get a post up here much earlier than this, but the weather over here in Indiana has been pretty nasty lately. We lost power for about a whole week and that was a pretty big bummer. Plus, due to the weather and having to deal with my dogs and other things I missed the last two Ants home games (something I always hate doing). I've only missed one other game this season but I had a perfectly valid excuse (I was seeing Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine in Akron; totally worth it). Really, that's three too many games. I'm excited to see the Jam play tomorrow. Only in the D-League can a team go from being the best to the worst in ONE SINGLE SEASON. Haha I love it. Okay, well I'm gonna just go over the Mad Ants' season thus far and just talk about the team and whatever else pops into my head. I'm a very scattered writer and tend to get off topic pretty fast, but that's all in the fun of reading it! Also, I just got my wisdom teeth out this morning so I'm not all there, but I shall do my best!
My Ants have started off this season pretty much exactly as I expected them to and almost exactly how last year went as well. We're working our way back to .500 and a win tomorrow against the Jam would be huge for us (a man can dream). It's nice to see two of my favorite Ants back from last season: Walker Russel Jr. and Ron Howard. Howard was a nice surprise last season. He never saw much playing time in the beginning of the season due to the beast that is Jeremy Richardson (currently playing with the Magic; he was waived about a month ago but since then have resigned him, which is great for him but it would have been amazing to see him back in yellow), but once given his chance he became Fort Wayne's guy. When most people think of the Mad Ants, they think of Ron Howard. I hear nothing but good things about him as a person and he seems like a very genuinely nice guy. Plus he does a lot out on the court and a quick look at his numbers can tell you that. Walker Russell is leading the league in assists by a large margin and is a great gift to have on this team. I was really rooting for him to get the back-up PG spot in Phoenix but the team went with Dee Brown (just one of the many bad decisions the Suns have made recently haha), however it's really nice to still have Walker around. This guy is nearly always out on the court and is a great playmaker. I can see him being a call-up real soon. It's great to have him back after playing overseas for half of last season.
The team waived Brian Morrison a few weeks ago, which I was a bit upset to see. Morrisson has a load of talent, and was just never given enough time to show it. We picked up Vernon Hamilton, the all-time steals leader over at Clemson, and I love what I see from him, however I think Morrisson should have been given more time. Morrisson was a true point-guard, a very unselfish player and who I personally thought was a perfect back up to Walker Russel. But I suppose I gotta trust Jaren Jackson (or whoever made that decision), and Hamilton has looked really good in the few games I saw on Futurecast. I'm really gonna be watching him tomorrow as I've yet to see him play at home in the Coliseum.
Another guy we waived was another last season player, Eric Smith. I liked Smith, but there were little things about him that irked me a bit. He seemed to go for the "flashy" plays a lot. He participated in last season's dunk contest and he seemed to go for a lot of fancy dunks and whatnot last season during games as well, which is always entertaining to no end, but it seemed like he missed most of these dunks and the crowd was just left with an "Aw...." Though entertaining players like this are always fun to watch, when they don't offer much more than that it kind of bums you out, and Eric Smith was this guy. I hated to see him go, as he was one of the original Ants, but I see why he lost the roster spot, and he was replaced by Anthony Kent, a very capable PF out of Ball State (where I'll be at next year!). I loved what I saw from Kent in the preseason game against the Bayhawks. He was quick and looked very focused out there. I was disappointed when I saw that he didn't make the team, but again, I can see why he didn't. Now he's back and though he's averaging just twelve minutes a game behind Coleman Collins, his 4.6 boards per game are very helpful and efficient.
The Ants got another big guy in Sean Sonderleiter whose playing time has dropped significantly. I don’t think he’s injured as nothing’s been reported, but though he’s been with the team all season he’s played only 5 games and averages eleven minutes off the bench. However, this is no surprise to me. I like Sean’s game, but he’s outplayed at his position by nearly every D-League power forward. He struggles out there and simply doesn’t match up with his man all too well. His numbers aren’t terrible but they aren’t very impressive either. If the Ants are thinking about making a change, I can see it being done at Sean’s expense. To be honest I was quite surprised when he wasn’t cut at the beginning of the season. I always thought Kent was a much better ball player; Smith too But I do like Sean quite a bit and he has his share of “WOW” moments out there. I’d hate to see him go. Another big is Toree Morris, 6-10 and 275 lbs. out of Pittsburgh. The guy is a beast and one of my favorites to watch. He’s missed one game this season due to a minor injury, where we missed his 53% shooting. He gives us 7 helpful points per game in just under 16 minutes off the bench. However, he needs to be rebounding the ball better, but I am impressed for how quickly he gets down the court for a bigger guy.
Next we have Shawn Hawkins, who’s been splitting the starting small forward spot with fellow IPFW product Dewitt Scott. Hawkins, struggling with his cringe-worthy 38% field goal percentage, does much more good than bad however. He averages 6.2 boards a game to go along 9.3 PPG. Hawkins manages to do a lot without attracting a lot attention (I’ve found myself on many occasions being shocked to all of a sudden see him in the game, only to find he’s been in the whole last five minutes or so-and I like to think I’ve very perceptive haha). He’s a great asset on this team. However, IPFW bias aside, I think the aforementioned Dewitt Scott should be starting at small forward every night (as he usually does, Scott has 5 starts to Hawkins’ 4). The kid can shoot. It seems like nearly every shot he puts up goes in and when he gets in his usual corner spot and is handed the ball you know he’s gonna throw up the trey where he’s shooting 47% on the season. Averaging just under 12 points on the season, this guy has one of the best shots I’ve ever seen. Definitely keep an eye on him this season.
Now to finish up this (lengthy!) post, we’ve got our two starting big men. First off is Coleman Colllins, our first round pick from Virginia Tech, the 6-9 power forward just continues to impress me more and more with every game. I was left underwhelmed with him after the pre-season, but he has definitely exceeded all expectations. Averaging 16 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, he’s a great big man to have out there (a spot we were really weak on last season). Not nearly as foul prone as you’d expect (1.78 per game) for the minutes (31.8) he plays every night, CC (nickname coined by my dad, however it’s very likely plenty of people have called him this in his life haha) always provides a nice 1.33 blocks per game to go along with it. He has an ugly mid-range jumper that tends to go in nearly every time he throws it up; so I forgive him. His free throw shot is just as ugly but still he shoots decently from the charity strike for a big guy. It’s really nice to have two reliable big men this season. I call them the Twin Towers, and I know that nickname has been done to death, but I simply do not care. Chris “Big Game” Hunter (another dad nickname) is a 6-11 monster from Michigan, leading the team with his 17.8 points per game and 11.4 boards a game, just looking at his numbers anyone can tell what he means to this team. Big Game is also leading the team in field goal percentage (53%) and blocks (1.9 per game). He is very foul prone with an average of 4.56 per game, but it’s expected for a big guy, though I’d really like to see him attack the basket more. The guy baffles me, as sometimes he looks extremely lost on the court, and then the next second he makes a great cut to the basket for a nice bucket. He also beholds a beastly dunk. Great guy to watch, and a guy very likely to get called up sometime this season.
Well, there are the ten Mad Ants this season. I’ll be taking some notes at tomorrow’s game and writing in depth about that, and I plan on doing so with all Mad Ant games from here on out! Except if something terrible happens of course (like a famine, or tests). This isn’t some of my best writing as I’m still a little woozy from the surgery today, but I’ll be honing my skills over the next few months and I hope you enjoyed reading this article! I have literally zero experience writing about sports, but hopefully this is something I get better at over the months as well. I know this was a long one, but thanks for reading it and I hope you enjoyed it! Go Ants!
I'm Ben Renz and I'm a huge Pacer and Mad Ants fan. I spend nearly all my free time reading about basketball or listening to music (of which I'm also a huge fan-dabbling in lots of genres). I'm 19 years old and currently attending IPFW in Fort Wayne, IN.