FORT WAYNE – The vision is 20/20, it seems, on the day they roll the balls out for the first time. And so here on Monday were IPFW basketball coaches Tony Jasick and Chris Paul, and here was the first day of practice for the upcoming season, and there wasn’t a squinted eye in the room.
I don’t think we’ll have anybody who will come in and replace his 20 points a night, said Jasick, the men’s coach, acknowledging that things will be different with Frank Gaines gone.
Fourth isn’t good enough. Now we’re going out there to try to win this thing, said Paul, the women’s coach, acknowledging that things will different for them, too, if not in exactly the same way.
Both are coming off losing seasons – the men went 16-17 and the women 13-17 – and if their situations are diametrically opposed, the attitude about them is not. The women return virtually everyone from a team that surprised itself a bit by going 8-8 in the Summit League and finishing fourth. The men are back without Gaines and his 19.8 points a game and leading rebounder Mario Hines. Yet the arrow points upward for both.
For the women, it’s because they’re a known quantity led by Summit League Player of the Year Amanda Hyde (18.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.1 apg). For the men, it’s because they’ll be giving opponents a new problem: an actual inside presence keyed by Steve Forbes, a 6-9 Floridian, and Brent Calhoun, a 6-8 Hoosier out of Indianapolis.
I don’t think we’ve ever been in this situation where we have this many quality bigs, Jasick says. So I do think a strength of ours will be pound the ball inside. Teams are gonna have to make a decision whether they’re gonna double-team our guys in the post or play one-on-one, and I think we can really take advantage of the quality of guys we’ve got down there.
If nothing else, it will open things up on the outside.
I think that once we get it down to those big guys, and they do their little thing, (opponents) are gonna start double-teaming them, which is gonna leave that three open for guys like Luis (Jacobo) and I, says Mike Kibiloski, a 6-7 forward from Elkhart. Which is really gonna open our game and everything.
The women, meanwhile, will be more guard oriented, but the outlook is similar. After going a combined 22-38 the last two seasons, they’re eager to apply all the requisite lessons that teaches.
I think we have a core group of girls who realize how hard you have to play all the time, says Hyde. When you come in as a freshman, it’s hard. A lot of times you’re the best player on your high school team and you can get away with a few things. And it takes awhile to learn.
Now we have a group of six, seven, eight girls who know what it’s like to play for 40 whole minutes. So I think that’s really gonna help us.
Can’t hurt, Paul figures.
A year ago we walked on the floor not knowing what we had, he says. We had four juniors and nine freshmen and sophomores, and I had no clue what we were gonna do and who was gonna be on the floor. Well, now I know. We walked right into practice and we know who we have, we know what system we’re gonna run.
We know what we can do. We know what we have to work on. We were close. We were just missing some pieces last year. Now I think we’ll be able to compete.