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IPFW embarks on new, critical season

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Mastodons keys include blending of many new faces, roles

Saturday, October 13, 2012 02:05 pm
IPFW redshirt junior Justin Jordan suffered a knee injury last spring and is out until at least Christmas and may not be 100 percent at all this season. So the Mastodons will turn the point guard job over to either sophomore Isaiah McCray or junior college transfer Pierre Bland. McCray got limited minutes a year ago and Bland hasn’t played a second at the NCAA Division I level, so it may take awhile before this position is stable.

A dark horse player could be junior college transfer Kevin Harden, who has the ability to play the point if needed.Second-year IPFW coach Tony Jasick reworked his roster after enduring a stuggling (11-19) season a year ago. He’s added five players on the perimeter and three in the front court.

Surprisingly, he has talked about the improved team chemistry as being a positive factor that he has seen develop throughout this off-season. How quickly the IPFW coaches figure out roles and these new players blend together could determine how successful this team can be.IPFW recruited former Stetson post player Steve Forbes out of Brevard Community College in Florida and he has enough potential to excite the Mastodon coaches if he can improve his physical conditioning.

He weighed 329 pounds when he arrived in Fort Wayne this summer and the IPFW strength and conditioning staff has worked Forbes hard during this fall and he took the court at 313 on Friday.

How quickly Forbes can reach his ideal playing weight (below 290) will have a large impact on this team's success.Former IPFW men’s basketball coach Dane Fife methodically built this program up to a school-record 18 victories in the 2010-11 season before leaving for a position at Michigan State. All of that positive momentum evaporated over the course of 11 weeks last winter, as the Mastodons’ 2011-12 season collapsed in losing 16 of 20 games to close the season.

It is imperative that Jasick take a significant step back toward respectability (at least 15 wins) in his second season. Another disappointing season and it will be awfully difficult to right the Mastodon ship.Three seasons ago very few people outside of the Gates Sports Center knew who Frank Gaines was. Fast forward to this autumn and he is a guy that will have pro scouts following his progress.

That is the core of how a mid-major program finds success is the development of raw athletes into finished products.

Who is the next Frank Gaines in Fort Wayne? Joe Edwards could be that answer.

The Chicago native has grown physically (190 pounds) and looked much stronger than he was a year ago at Friday's practice. He's continued to develop his guard skills after playing forward in high school and showed spurts of tremendous potential last season.

All Edwards needs is Gaines drive and determination and he could become the face of this program over the upcoming seasons.

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at Tom101010.


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