IPFW senior Luis Jacobo knows his Mastodons inside and out.
If they want to beat Akron at 7 tonight in the Gates Center and advance in the CollegeInsider.com men's basketball tournament, IPFW will have to make the best use of what it does best. That happens to be offense, inside and out.
“We play our best when we take smart shots and we start with the ball being inside and work our way out,” Jacobo said. “We have paint dominance with Steve (Forbes) and Joe Reed. When we do that and swing the ball around, I feel like we're almost unbeatable. We have great shooters and post presence, so you have to pick your poison.”
Here's the caveat, however: IPFW (24-10) can't expect to beat Akron (21-12) simply with its offense.
The Mastodons will have to find a way to deal with Akron's senior strength of 6-foot-7 forward Demetrius Treadwell (14.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg), 6-6 Quincy Diggs (12.5 ppg) and 6-8 Nick Harney (8.3 ppg).
IPFW coach Tony Jasick said Akron reminds him of the strong Oral Roberts teams that won the Summit League a few years back. The similarities are great size and rebounding, surrounded by quality shooters.
Jacobo recognizes that defensive inconsistency has been one of the few flaws IPFW has demonstrated in its record-setting season.
“We'll put together four or five stops in a row but then have 10 possessions in row where they either score or we foul them,” Jacobo said. “We can't allow other teams to go on runs against us. I feel sometimes that's our downfall and other times defense wins games for us. It's streaky.”
There's little question whether the Mastodons are mentally prepared for the school's first postseason tournament game since moving to NCAA Division I. Energy was high at practices, and the chance to open at home is psychological boost.
“It's a good feeling,” IPFW's Pierre Bland said. “I've loved playing with this team all year, and it's an honor to play in the postseason. We're thankful for it. We're grateful for it, and we want to take full advantage of it.”
Bland said he has seen Akron play on a couple of occasions this season and expects it to be a tight game.
“It'll be a gut-it-out game,” Bland said. “They remind me maybe of NDSU (Summit League champ North Dakota State) with their size and stuff like that.
“It'll be important for us to stay focused and stay disciplined with what we have to do, especially with rebounding,” Bland said. “I feel like if we can get them off the glass, it'll play to our advantage.”