The new – and hopefully improved – version of the IPFW men's basketball program gets unveiled today at the Coliseum and one thing is for certain, this year's Mastodons will look different than last season's squad.
“We have, borderline, an entirely new roster,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick said. “We've got eight new guys, and the returnees that we do have, only one played 18 or more minutes (per game).”
The Mastodons will host Alma at 7 p.m. today in an exhibition game.
Last season a very promising year spiraled downward quickly around the holidays and Jasick's squad never recovered. At one point, the Mastodons were 7-3, but finished 4-16 over their final 20 games.
Jasick explained that there a number of factors involved in that decline, but this year's group will look differently and play differently.
“The fans can expect a much more intense, a much more in-your-face, a much more aggressive style of play at the defensive end,” Jasick said. “We've been able to attract a more athletic, a longer student-athlete than we have in the past.”
The Mastodons have brought in four junior college players from the state of Florida (Steve Forbes, Kevin Harden, Luis Jacobo, and Pierre Bland), plus have the addition of another Florida native, redshirt freshman guard Herbert Graham eligible this season. Throw in freshmen Joe Reed (6-7 forward) and Will Dunn (6-2 guard) and this new mix will expectedly endure a learning curve as they figure everything out.
“With so many new guys, practices can be up and down,” Jasick said. “The whole thing with this team is that we need to make sure that we are trending upward as we go through a practice, as we go through a week, and as we go through the month. We're going to have this group together for the next two or three years (The Mastodons have 15 players, but just two seniors). I would love to be a finished product (by the Alma game), but that's not going to happen. But as long as we keep plugging away, and our guys stay committed to what we are trying to do… as we continue to grow and develop defensively, I think that our season will go from there.”