According to the weeks schedule distributed to the 15 players who were assigned to report, Mondays first gathering of the 2012-13 Mad Ants was expected to be more of a getting-to-know you session with some handshakes, some man-hugs, some shooting, and so long.
Instead, it was a lot of running up and down the Concordia Theological Seminary floor and push-ups.
Coach said it was just shooting today, veteran guard Ron Howard said. It was a little shocking at first, but it was good to get out there.
First-year coach Duane Ticknor didnt waste time because he said there isnt much to spare.
We dont have a lot of time to get ready, and we want to really emphasize the way were going to try to play – take advantage of our speed and athleticism, Ticknor said. Weve got bigs who can run the floor.
One of the bigs is Tommy Smith, a 6-foot-10 forward who was the only Ants player missing, because of personal reasons. All the others hit the floor running, in a most literal sense.
Dissatisfied the way the three-man weave was being held, which included a dribble, three times Ticknor ordered the players to the floor to do push-ups.
During shooting drills, he encouraged players to run hard as possible, but shoot with control. And when the activity slowed, Ticknor shouted, Ive got guys who put it on cruise again. Push yourself!
And when several were showing signs of being weary, Ticknor said, If youre tired already, its going to be a long week – or a short week; its up to you.
Meaning they could be elsewhere.
Ill warn em once, and the second time theyll come out of the game, Ticknor said. Were going to run and be relentless with it, so we wanted to set the tone right away.
In addition to Howard, players returning who were with the Ants for all or part of last years 14-36 record were guards Walker Russell Jr. and Sadiel Rojas and center Sean Sonderleiter.
Most notable among the new faces was 6-10 JaJuan Johnson, the former Purdue standout who played with the NBA Boston Celtics last season, but was released from the Houston Rockets camp.
The Ants will practice twice daily through Thursday, practice once Friday, and play an exhibition game at Canton Saturday.
They will begin their regular season Nov. 23 against Erie.