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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Mad Ants forward Olek Czyz dunks in front of Erie’s Nick Covington. Czyz is averaging 13.5 points per game.

Mad Ants’ Czyz adjusts to US game

The reputation of Olek Czyz is a polished one.

Google his name and you will find much talk about his dunking prowess – a reverse dunk from 2011 is legendary in Nevada – and there’s a sleek website,

Yes, there’s an app, too.

But the 6-foot-7 Czyz, who is in his first season with the Mad Ants, will be the first to tell you that his game needs more polishing.

“I’m just trying to figure out the tempo and adjust to the speed of this league,” said Czyz, who spent last season, his rookie campaign as a professional, playing in Italy.

“I think I’ve got to see the easy ways to score and see where I can be effective, how I can, personally, bring energy and be effective with it. Every league is a little different.”

In Italy, he averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game with Virtus Roma. This season, with the Mad Ants (1-3), he is third on the team with an average of 13.5 points per game and is second with 8.5 rebounds per game.

Despite the increase in production, which is partly represented by an increase in minutes from 14.5 per game in Italy to 33 in Fort Wayne, he’s still re-acclimating to the North American style of play.

“It’s a lot different here,” Czyz said. “In Europe, you lose a step with your game. You can’t attack and play one-on-one over there because the referees call traveling on a lot of stuff.

“You have to develop a really good back-to-the-basket game, whereas here, guys face up and go. It’s a lot more athletic. It’s somewhat like college (in the D-League), but this is a faster pace because of the shot clock.”

Czyz, 23, grew up in Poland and moved to Reno, Nev., for his high school ball.

He spent two seasons at Duke – he averaged 2.5 points and 10 minutes per game as a sophomore in 2009-10 – and was on a national championship team before transferring to Nevada.

As a senior in 2011-12, he averaged 13.8 points. 6.5 rebounds and 28.3 minutes, and he was named all-conference.

The aforementioned dunk was selected as Dunk of the Year by The Hoops Manifesto, and he was in the Italian All-Star Game Dunk Contest last season.

He has also gotten tryouts with the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, and he was selected to the Polish National Team.

Note: The D-League granted the Mad Ants’ protest, ruling that the final 0.9 seconds of their Nov. 22 game against the Texas Legends should be replayed after the Mad Ants were incorrectly called for a technical foul.

The Mad Ants called timeout with 0.9 seconds left and the game tied at 99. An official scoring error led them to believe they had a timeout left, but because they didn’t, the Legends were awarded a free throw that Chris Douglas-Roberts made for the winning point.

Fort Wayne protested and the league said Friday that a Mad Ants timeout was incorrectly recorded by the official scorer with 10:35 left.

The date and location of the conclusion will be determined later.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story