After struggling to a 5-10 record nearly a third of the way through the NBA Development League season, the Mad Ants released head coach Joey Meyer today.
Meyer's assistant, 26-year-old Steve Gansey, will serve as the interim head coach when the Ants play at Canton, Ohio, tonight. The team returns home Saturday to face Canton at Memorial Coliseum at 7:30 p.m.
Meyer, the winningest coach in D-League history who led Asheville, N.C. to back-to-back championships -- in 2004 and 2005 -- was in his third season with the Ants.
Named the team's head coach to begin the 2009-10 season, Meyer led last year's team to the franchise's most successful season, 24-26. His team missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker proceedure.
However, this season has been less successful.
The Ants have had a multitude of changes on the roster.
Several of the more experienced players missed early season games due to participating in NBA training camps. Guards Ron Howard and Walker Russell Jr. were in the camps of Milwaukee and Detroit, respectively. Rookie guard Cam Jones, the team's No. 1 draft choice, was in the Miami Heat camp. Forward Darnell Lazare was in the Indiana Pacers camp.
Projected starting center Chris Hunter, who was invited to the New York Knicks camp, has been injured, and was recently waived. The team even got an NBA player in guard Darington Hobson, who spent three games with the Ants before being recalled to the Milwaukee Bucks.
There has been a sense of dissatisfaction surrounding Meyer, however, by team president Jeff Potter.
Potter was seen at a recent games sitting at his courtside seat, taking notes on a legal pad. And at another game recently, minority owner Tim Borne stood closely behind the Mad Ants bench during two first quarter timeouts, trying to listen to Meyer's talk with the team.
When asked after a game if Meyer's job was in jeopardy, Potter said, "No, he's not in trouble," and said that everyone with the organization had to work harder to begin winning consistently.
"Joey is a wonderful man, and we have been lucky to have him as a part of this organization for the past two and half years," Potter said in a news release. "Unfortunately, we have not had the success on the court that we would have hoped, and, after meeting with Joey, we both decided that the we needed a new voice to lead our team and chart a new course." In the same release, Meyer commented, "I have truly enjoyed my time in Fort Wayne, and I thank the organization for the opportunity to coach this team. We did not have the ultimate success we all hoped for, but we had some great moments here in Fort Wayne, and I will look back on my time here fondly. I wish the Mad Ants and the Fort Wayne community all the best now and in the future."
Meyer leaves with a 51-64 record.
Gansey was in his third season under Meyer, beginning as a volunteer assistant during the 2009-10 season. He was elevated to the position of assistant coach last season.
A graduate of Ashland University, Gansey was with Priority Sports and Entertainment in Chicago as a basketball operations intern during the summer of 2009. He also served as an assistant coach for the USA U-19 National team, where he worked and helped develop players Stephen Curry, Michael Beasley and 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.