Yes, it has been a while since I last posted about the wonderful closers that are the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but that can be blamed on a number of reasons, most of which concern the friends that I won’t see for a few months and the aforementioned Mad Ants’ ability to close a basketball game. But I digress. I don’t want to down my Ants, because I’m sure they thrive on my every criticism. I’m sure they know they can’t close a game. I’m positive Jaren Jackson cries himself to sleep over this fact, which results in his players getting a very similar speech after every game. A speech that I’m sure gets more venomous with time. And the Ants’ record sits at 5-11, which simply doesn’t look very nice. Neither does the four game losing streak. Me? I’m going to blame it on Alex Acker and Walter Sharpe. They were sent down for four games; all of which the Mad Ants lost. The Ants need a scapegoat and that scapegoat is the Detroit Pistons (I’m still kind of upset the Pistons beat the Nuggets the other night; I’m a big Billups fan so obviously the Pistons are not my favorite team right now).
Now, in roster news, the Ants have waived Toree Morris and brought Sean Sonderleiter back on board. I can’t say I’m too happy with this move. When I think of Toree and Sean, I definitely see Toree as a player with much more potential. Toree is nearly twice Sean’s size (I’m really just guestimating here; Toree is a big guy) and is nearly twice as fast. Speed is a big thing in basketball (it’s true; I’m sure you haven’t heard that before) and so is something I call size. Toree wins the battle in these two key categories. Now, I can relate more with Sean (besides the fact that we’re both white guys with stupid hair) simply because he appears to be more of the timid type of basketball player. And I know just as well as anyone that “timid” just doesn’t get it done on the basketball court. Sean’s shot is nicer than Toree’s, but Toree is a player. He hustles and he gets it done in his limited minutes on the court. For a split second I was quite pleased with the Mad Ants’ ever-changing lineup (though the addition of 1993 Charles Barkley would be welcome), but that changed with the waiving of Toree. I like you Sean, I do, but I personally believe Toree is a more valuable player. I listened to some of the pregame talk on FutureCast, and it seems like Toree left the team on his own volition due to the lack of playing time he was receiving. I wish him the best, but I don’t really see a better opportunity for him than right here in Fort Wayne.
Unfortunately, I didn't make it out to tonight’s home game. Yes, it is the last for nearly a month, but the weather is pretty lousy over here (I’m positive that it only snows hard the four hours leading up to a Mad Ants home game) and I have a huge problem that starts with having no one to go to the game with and ends with me not wanting to scream at the refs while sitting all by myself and scribbling notes furiously on my legs. (yes, I have plenty of friends, just not the type of friends who like going to basketball games -- this realization eats at me every single day). It will be a FutureCast game and I will eat a three dollar frozen pizza (this is an entire pizza; not a $6 dollar slice of old pizza, so I am winning here) and watch the Buck’s dance team from the comfort of my own bedroom (it’s Milwaukee Buck’s affiliation night; so I’m obviously crazy not to go to the game).
Continue reading to see my preview and review of tonight's game!
The Anaheim Arsenal sit at 5-12 and have also lost four straight coming into tonight’s game, so as they have one more loss than the Mad Ants do, I see tonight as a very winnable game. Really, it’s a must-win. Yes, I know, the point of the game is to win. Me saying that “the Ants have to win tonight!” only succeeds in making me look like a jackass. But when they’ve lost four straight, and they’re up against a team who’s playing in a situation very similar to your own, and they’re playing in front of a home crowd that is sick of heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss, and they’re trying to impress marginally attractive Milwaukee Buck’s dancers, then it’s definitely a must-win situation.
The key is containing James White. He’s coming in averaging nearly 24 points a game and shooting a very impressive 55% from the field. Also, center Marcus Campbell, aside from joining the club of D-Leaguers who have names very similar to the NBA players they wish they were (damn that was mean of me to say!), is a double-double machine and will need to be kept a close eye on (I’m full of obvious statements aren’t I?). Basketball is a game played with a basketball (count it).
It truly was a nice game tonight. The Mad Ants won 111-100 (quite fitting to score 111 on January the 11th) and led most of the way. There was a scare in the 2nd quarter and early in the third where the Arsenal took the lead, but the Ants quickly built the lead back up and led the rest of the way.
White finished with 31 points and four steals and is definitely an NBA-ready small forward. He played for the Spurs back in 2007, and looking at his numbers I’m confused as to why he’s currently in the D-League at all. White even has a championship ring when the Spurs won it all that year. He’s the second leading scorer in the league, and watching tonight you can expect to see White getting a call-up relatively soon. This kid is an offensive machine out there. Kedrick Brown pulled down 12 boards for the Arsenal but shot just 3 for 12 on the night. His three steals and two blocks didn’t hurt however. Other notable scorers for the Arsenal were Chet Mason with 15, and Ronald Allen and Tierre Brown each with 14.
The Ants played a very solid game tonight. Walker Russell had a solid defensive performance against Tierre Brown and finished the night with two steals, 14 assists, one turnover, and 16 points. Dewitt Scott finally found his shot tonight. After missing his first six three-ball attempts, he went 4-for-5 and finished the night with 14 points. Shawn Hawkins had an amazing night off the bench putting up 18 points during critical points in the game, including being perfect from behind the arc, making all four attempts. Taj McCullough had a double-double with 12 boards and 14 points. Despite his four turnovers, Chris Hunter was a beast for the Mad Ants tonight, pulling down 10 boards and 22 points. Ron Howard appears to be back and better than he’s been all season, as he put in 19 points. Coleman Collins was a spark off the bench, and in three straight possessions came up huge with two big blocks and a huge put back basket. David Bailey and Anthony Kent saw very limited minutes (5 and 2, respectively) and Sean Sonderleiter never got off the bench. However, I can’t fault this too much, as the seven go-to guys tonight were playing very, very well together.
I would like to see Bailey a little more though, as would probably everyone else in Fort Wayne haha. He’s a great player to watch. I just don’t know how well he fits with the rest of our lineup. Having the best point guard in the league (you know it’s true (editors note: WHAT!?)), it’s really hard to find minutes for a back-up.
Marcus Campbell didn’t suit up for the Arsenal, which was a great post-Christmas gift. Kirk Walters started at the 5 instead, and didn’t really impress all that much. Cedric Bozeman didn’t do much for the Arsenal tonight, shooting just 2-for-11. Bozeman played for the Hawks back in 2006 and even started five games at SG, but with more performances like this he needs to be worrying about his current job. Tierre Brown was the D-League MVP back in 2004. Gotta wonder what happened there. He wasn't not much of a threat out there at all tonight. Kedrick Brown is a former 11th pick by the Boston Celtics, a fact that reminded me where I’ve seen his name before. Ronald Allen had a solid game for Anaheim, setting his season high with the aforementioned 14 points.
All in all it was a nice win with just a few scares. It’s good to see Scott and Howard back in their form. I’ve got some more notes on the game (really less about the game, and more criticisms about FutureCast and cheerleaders and announcers and things like this) that I hope to get up in the next few days. The Ants don’t take the court again until Thursday when they head on their 10 game road-trip, with the first stop being a back-to-back matchup against Sioux Falls. I’ll get some more post-game thoughts up later and I’ll see you guys on Thursday!