The Mastodons opened practice earlier this week and this group has four viable players competing for playing time at – for the most part – two positions (center and power forward).
A year ago, senior forward Michael Kibiloski (27 games and 20 starts) played to the best of his ability while he battled a nagging back injury. He is healthy heading into this season, while freshman forward Joe Reed played in 32 of the team’s 33 games, and down the stretch, Jasick felt the youngster really began to come into his own.
“What people are forgetting is that we were really, really good down the stretch,” Jasick said. “We did some things that had never been done (at IPFW) before down the stretch and Joe Reed was our guy.”
Common sense would lead one to believe that Jasick will rely heavily on those two players again – and he might – but he also has other candidates battling to get on the floor in the front court.
A year ago, Jasick brought in former Stetson University center Steve Forbes, as well as freshman center Brent Calhoun. Both sat out last season as redshirt players, and both should impact this season’s success.
Whereas Kibiloski (6-foot-7, 245 pounds) and Reed (6-foot-7, 205 pounds) are more suited to the forward position, there is no doubt that Forbes (6-foot-9, 285 pounds) and Calhoun (6-foot-8, 275 pounds) are true back-to-the-basket behemoths that give Jasick some options to implement varying looks.
“We’ll have a different look and feel to our team, with the inside presence that we have, and the numbers that we have” Jasick said. “We’re going to try and use that to our benefit and really rely on those guys to have a major impact on the game.”
Reed and Kibiloski not only can score and rebound in the post, but both have the ability to step out and face the basket, as well. With Forbes and Calhoun, Jasick likes the two players’ ability to contribute both offensively, as well as defensively.
“Both (Steve and Brent) can help us put more pressure on the ball, because they take up so much space,” Jasick said. “If you do get beat off of the ball, they are there to help. And they are so big, so massive, that they can really affect the game around the goal.
“And they are both really effective passers. They can get the ball off of the rim and start a break better than we’ve been able to in the past. And once we get into the half-court, we’re really going to incorporate them.”
The NCAA altered its men’s basketball calendar this season and has allowed teams to begin practices earlier. That extra time will prove beneficial for the Mastodons, as Jasick tries to figure his frontcourt rotation out.
“One advantage to the earlier start date is we’ll have more days, more opportunities to evaluate,” Jasick said, “and more days to compete.”
That sounds like a nice problem for a coaching staff to resolve.