Coach: Tony Jasick
Record: 16-17 (7-9 Summit League, fifth place)
What went right: A season that appeared to be heading down the drain got new life toward the end when the Mastodons won six in a row before losing to South Dakota State in the semifinals of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. Back-to-back home losses to South Dakota State and North Dakota State dipped the Mastodons six games below .500 (10-16) before winning five straight going into the league tournament, where they made it six in a row with the third victory this year over Oakland. A perennial thorn in IPFW’s side, the Mastodons beat Oakland at Memorial Coliseum, won 74-72 in Rochester, Mich., then hammered the Grizzlies 91-72 in the first round of the tournament. Senior guard Frank Gaines led the team with a 19.8 points per game and established a career scoring record at IPFW with 1,841 points. Junior college transfer Luis Jacobo, with an 11.4 average, was named to the Summit League All-Newcomer team.
What went wrong: Hoping to have a pair of high-scoring guards to complement Gaines and senior center Mario Hines, injuries quickly became a factor. Justin Jordan, the former North Side standout, injured his knee in a summer pickup game and never played, and junior college transfer Kevin Harden also suffered a season-ending knee injury after being a starter for the season’s first 12 games. The Mastodons hit a rugged stretch in December, when they lost five of six, with each loss by a double-digit margin.
Outlook: Without Gaines next season, IPFW will need a consistent scorer. It should have plenty of options with the return of Jacobo, Joe Edwards, Harden and Michael Kibiloski. Next year’s team will also be bigger. Freshman Joe Reed, who averaged 4.5 points, is a 6-7 forward who scored 15 points in the Mastodons’ first encounter with South Dakota State. He’ll be joined by 6-9, 280-pound Steve Forbes, a junior college center who was redshirted. Although the status of Jordan remains questionable, Harden should return. Herbert Graham will provide scoring from the outside, as will 6-2 redshirt guard Will Dunn. The two players who shared the point guard job are coming back in Pierre Bland and Isaiah McCray.