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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Rob Gray runs the ball down the court during the second quarter against Raptors 905 at the Coliseum on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Tra-Deon Hollins pushes past Raptors 905's Kay Felder to get to the basket during the first half at the Coliseum on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Alize Johnson dives with the ball during the first half against Raptors 905 at the Coliseum on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants’ Elijah Stewart shoots over Raptors 905’s Jordan Loyd during the first half Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Alize Johnson pushes past Raptors 905's Chris Boucher to get to the hoop during the first half at the Coliseum on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Mad Ants’ Davon Reed looks for an opening as he’s defended by past Raptors 905’s Khadeem Lattin on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Davon Reed pushes past Raptors 905's Chris Boucher to get to the hoop during the first half at the Coliseum on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Tra-Deon Hollins passes the ball past Raptors 905's Khadeem Lattin during the first half at the Coliseum on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Mad Ants' Davon Reed looks for an opening past Raptors 905's Khadeem Lattin during the first half at the Coliseum on Thursday.

Thursday, November 29, 2018 11:30 pm

Mad Ants: All about the defense

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The number 60 stood out from the postgame statistical data like a sore thumb tonight. That's the percent of shots – 60 – that Raptors 905 made from the field in its 136-116 victory over the Mad Ants.

Not surprisingly, everyone was talking about Fort Wayne's defense after the game at Memorial Coliseum.

“I feel like we didn’t play defense as well as we could have in the second half, allowing a team to score that many points,” Rob Gray said. “That wasn’t acceptable, considering what we practice and what we go over daily. So we’ve just got to let it go and get ready for the next one. We’ve got a quick turnaround and play Windy City (on Saturday). We just beat them at their place (Sunday) and they’re going to come here ready to go, so we’ve got to play team defense better.”

Gray led the Mad Ants (4-4) with 24 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter after Tra-Deon Hollins suffered a knee injury.

I wasn't able to get any update on Hollins, so his availability for Saturday's game is unknown.

However, both Gray and Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said Gray is absolutely capable of playing point guard as much as shooting guard, so I would think the tentative plan would be for him to start there. 

"I've got to be able to play at a high level at the one and at the two and do whatever the team needs to impact winning," Gray said. 

Stephan Hicks had 23 points – that included a shot from beyond half court that put Fort Wayne up 42-29 at the end of the first quarter – and he had 13 rebounds.

Alize Johnson, the Indiana Pacers’ rookie second-round draft pick, had a stupendous first half with 20 points and eight rebounds, but was scoreless in the second half for Fort Wayne. He finished 9 of 18 from the field – that included 0-for-5 second-half shooting – and totaled 11 rebounds.

The Raptors were paced by former Fort Wayne guard Jordan Loyd’s 33 points on 13-of-16 shooting, while Chris Boucher had 32 points and 12 rebounds. Loyd is now on a two-way contract with the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

Speaking of two-way contracts, the Boston Celtics released former Mad Ants star Walt Lemon Jr. from his two-way deal today. That means, if he clears waivers, he'll be a free agent. To me, that's a pretty big if. However, I would think the Mad Ants might have some interest, especially in the wake of losing Ben Moore. While I don't think they would want to hinder the progression of Hollins or Gray, they seem a little thin on guards to me. 

jcohn@jg.net