FORT WAYNE – When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Coliseum
2011-12 records: Mad Ants 14-36, Erie 28-22
2011-12 Mad Ants leaders: Ron Howard (17.5 ppg), Howard (4.1 rpg), Walker Russell Jr. (9.9 apg)
2011-12 Erie leaders: Kyle Spain (12.2 ppg), Marvin Phillips (5.5 rpg), Keith McLeod (5.5 apg)
Key matchup: Phillips, the former Mad Ants forward, is a physical presence, and hell be going against a refortified front line that includes Warsaw native Miles Plumlee. Erie has a reputation for being a strong, aggressive team, and the Ants will have to find a way to counteract that. Sean Sonderleiter and JaJuan Johnson will be asked to carry much of the rebounding load.
The skinny: Its the beginning of the Duane Ticknor era with the Ants. Its a team with backcourt experience in Howard and Russell, and with youth in the middle led by former Boiler Johnson. The Ants got some help when the Pacers assigned ex-Duke star Plumlee and guard Orlando Johnson to Fort Wayne for the first two games. Sonderleiter will have to help until 6-10 Tommy Smith joins the team. Smith has been dealing with family issues and is expected to arrive in Fort Wayne soon.