The Mad Ants have played five games over seven days – completing one-third of their single-site regular season already – and it's given coach Tom Hankins precious little time to make adjustments.
“It's extremely challenging. I'd love to be able to practice,” Hankins said after Tuesday night's 112-105 loss to the Oklahoma City Blue at HP Field House in Orlando, Florida. “I'd love to get two practices in a row and be able to add things, put new things in.
“It seems like we focus on one game, 'Let's get better at certain things.' And then we do. And then we try to move on and focus on a few more things, but we regress on things we didn't talk about. It's just a difficult challenge, but everybody's got it and every team here is in the same boat.
The Mad Ants (1-4) had another game of sparkling individual performances – namely, Devin Robinson's 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting and Oshae Brissett's 16 points and career-best 18 rebounds – but Fort Wayne couldn't quite finish in the second half and that's been a recurring theme.
The Mad Ants rallied from an early 20-point deficit to tie it at 64, and the Blue (3-1) responded with an 11-0 run that culminated with a 3-pointer by Rob Edwards with 1:34 left in the third quarter. Melvin Frazier Jr.'s 3-pointer cemented the victory for the Blue, giving it a 96-80 lead with 6:50 remaining in the game.
“I feel like we fought really well throughout the whole game,” Brissett said. “It was tough coming back from a 20-point deficit in the first half. But I'll give a big shout to everyone on the team for sticking with it and really fighting all the way to the end. You know, we could have given up and started jacking up stupid shots, but everyone pretty much went to the end.”
Naz Mitrou-Long had 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Mad Ants, who were without Cassius Stanley for a third straight game because of a foot injury. Daxter Miles Jr. added 12 points and Jalen Lecque had 11.
Oklahoma City was paced by 7-foot-2 Moses Brown's 24 points and 20 rebounds, and 7-foot Omer Yurtseven had 16 points and eight rebounds, but the Blue only outrebounded Fort Wayne 58-55 despite a height advantage.
A day after Fort Wayne's Robinson made No. 3 on ESPN's “SportsCenter” Top 10 plays with a thunderous dunk, he got another slam, off a Josh Gray miss, to cut OKC's lead to 60-54 with 8:04 remaining in the third quarter.
“Devin is a guy who is always going to work hard, always going to stick with it,” Brissett said. “He knows what it takes to get to the (NBA) level and also play down here. Every game, I feel like we can get that same impact from him every time he's on the court. That's just going to carry on wherever he goes.”
The Mad Ants face Jeremy Lin and Santa Cruz at 3 p.m. Thursday.