FORT WAYNE – Mad Ants president Jeff Potter knew he might lose his head coach as soon as he heard Dave Joerger took the head coaching job with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Joerger and former Fort Wayne coach Duane Ticknor have a strong friendship. Joerger used to be an assistant under Ticknor at the NBA Developmental League level.
Now, Ticknor and Joerger have swapped roles: Ticknor will be an assistant for the Grizzlies, while the 39-year-old Joerger tries to revamp a franchise.
And the Mad Ants are looking for a new head coach.
I’m very happy for Duane. Well deserved – he’s been as good as you get in our league for a long time, Potter said. I’ll work with Duane and talk to him about some names, but we’re going to reach out to a few people that I think have been good coaches in our league, look for some different people as well.
Potter is in Las Vegas for an NBA summer league this week and will speak with some coaches there. He is also considering Mad Ants assistant Steve Gansey, who is in Orlando with the Indiana Pacers for their summer league.
Gansey, who was an interim head coach for Fort Wayne and helped Ticknor lead the Mad Ants to their first playoff appearance, doesn’t have much experience in the lead role. But he is an option going forward.
I’m going to have to talk with Jeff Potter and see what he’s thinking in terms of a head coach, and I guess we’ll kind of go from there, Gansey said. We’ll just kind of wait and see what happens here in the next couple of weeks.
But a decision on the next leader of the Mad Ants could take longer than that.
Potter said he has no timetable for a new hire, and he is more focused on finding the right person than filling the position quickly.
Sometimes, you’re in these processes and you hear names that pop up that you didn’t think about, said Potter, who will continue compiling a list of candidates this week. I’m not going to rush out there and hire someone that might not be the best fit. We’ll just kind of let it play itself out.
The next head coach in Fort Wayne will come in under a new precedent.
The Mad Ants went 27-23 last season before losing in the first round of the NBA D-League playoffs. It was the first postseason appearance for Fort Wayne, and any incoming coach will have to try and build off that success.
Regardless of what’s in the future for the Mad Ants – and for him – this was a promotion Ticknor earned, Gansey said.
I was excited for him, Gansey said. He deserves it, you know? He’s been a lot of different places coaching basketball – college, high school, the pros, overseas and everything.
Now, he’s finally hitting the big leagues.