For the 1, 359 fans at IPFW's 79-58 men's basketball victory over Summit League foe Southern Utah on Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum, there were several aspects they could point to and feel those are why the Mastodons won their eighth game.
There was the 2:24 span late in the second half where the Mastodons turned a seven-point lead (52-45) into a 14-point advantage (63-49).
There was the fact that IPFW out-rebounded (34-27) the best team in the conference when it came to rebound margin (the Thunderbirds typically out-rebound their opponents by more than four per game).
There was the balanced scoring by the Mastodons, which had six players produce at least eight points.
All of those things are accurate, but the origins of this victory lay somewhere along the frozen tundra of the Dakotas. That is where IPFW assistant coach Dan Bere began to put together the game plan that proved successful Tuesday.
“I had the (scouting assignment) for South Dakota State, and we finished that game on Wednesday,” Bere said. “So I started the Southern Utah scout Thursday morning on the bus ride up to North Dakota State.”
This is the life of a college assistant basketball coach. They can't dwell on last night's game very long, because they need to do what is necessary to be successful the next time. Bere wanted his project to be completed by Sunday morning (following the North Dakota State game Saturday), so he worked during every waking minute that he could.
“Basically, I want to have the scout ready for the team and for coach once we are done playing the last game leading up to this game,” Bere said.
Putting together Tuesday's game plan consisted of Bere watching multiple videos of the Thunderbirds (7-7, 2-2 SL) from not just this season, but in the past as well.
“I try to watch at least five games,” Bere said. “I got to watch six of Southern Utah, so you get a good feel for how they've played the last month or so.”
Having an experienced assistant coach and maintaining continuity within the staff can prove beneficial. Bere has been at IPFW for six years and competed against Southern Utah for the past four, so he knew what to look for.
“I've done Southern Utah each of the four years that we've been in the league,” Bere said. “I've got a pretty good understanding for what they do. We have clips saved in our database, so I went back to see what worked well for us offensively. But with us having a different team you do look at some things differently.”
Bere began by studying the Thunderbirds individually and then their schematic aspects.
“You are looking for personnel and some changes that they've made to what they are doing on offense,” Bere explained. “Then you have to look at what they are doing defensively. All of those things go into it. You are watching game by game, and with our editing system, you can go back and track what the patterns are and what the things are that they are trying to accomplish.”
One thing that caught Bere's attention was the effectiveness of Mastodons center Trey McCorkle in Cedar City last season. Before Tuesday's game, Bere mentioned that getting the senior post involved offensively would be a major point of emphasis.
“Trey played pretty well against them out there,” Bere said. “We'll look to see if we can expose that again.”
McCorkle finished Tuesday's game with a team-best 18 points.
“(The scout) was critical,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. “Dan had the scout, and as all of our guys do, he had our team prepared for what they were going to face tonight.”
Well, almost everything.
Southern Utah hadn't utilized ball-screening action very often recently, so Bere hadn't included that in his report to the players.
“They don't set a lot of ball screens,” Bere said. “They came out on three consecutive possessions in the first half and ran a ball-screen motion. We didn't do any ball-screen work. We did have to change our ball-screen defense.”
That type of surprise isn't a surprise to Bere and his fellow assistants.
“All types of things happen in a game,” Bere said. “That's why you have the halftime. You are able to make some adjustments and see what works.”
IPFW (8-6, 2-3) got a dozen points from Frank Gaines (and eight rebounds), while Jonny Marlin (five assists), Isaiah McCray (eight points, five rebounds), Mario Hines (10 points, nine boards) and Michael Kibiloski (11 points) also contributed.
“I thought Dan did a great job,” Jasick said. “I thought that our team did a great job of putting the scout into the game. When you do that, you give yourself a chance.”