Mad Ants bounce back with help from Trey McKinney-Jones
Two days after an embarrassing home loss to Westchester to end an eight-game winning streak, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants couldn’t wait to get onto the Memorial Coliseum court again. They controlled the Reno Bighorns 105-97 as Walt Lemon Jr. scored 28 and Jarrod Uthoff 21.
“We played better offensively and defensively against a really good Reno team,” Mat Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “It was us moving the ball more on offense and then attacking. We were attacking and getting layups off of it. We played 10 times better than the last showing against Westchester.”
Part of the performance was showing just a hint of how good the Mad Ants might be able to play later. Indiana Pacers prospects Ike Anigbogu and Alex Poythress looked more comfortable, and Trey McKinney-Jones played 24 minutes and scored 13 points in his second game after coming back from a shoulder injury suffered over the summer. He also had four assists and two blocks.
“He came in the first half and had some great minutes for us,” Gansey said. “You can tell he’s still a little hesitant in trying to get into the lane a little bit and taking a hit, but he’s an unbelievable player for us, and he’s going to continue to get better and play more minutes.”
At times, McKinney-Jones looked a little tentative trying to fit in with the other four players of the court who have already been playing and practicing together for a month. He’s also playing more point guard at Gansey’s request to allow Lemon to play less heavy minutes defending he ball and pushing the offense.
“I’m just trying to not put so much pressure on myself and knock this rust off and a few weeks hopefully I’ll be back to my usual form,” McKinney-Jones. “I’m trying not to impede this run we’ve had so far this season. I’ve been trying to just bring energy with that second group. With Walt being more of a scorer, just get the ball moving and bring a lot of energy. That’s probably the things I can control the most right now.”
Though he’s been practicing with the team, he’s still working on his timing and shooting touch. He believes the time off will end up helping him as a player, rebuilding his hunger to play. This is the first time he’s had a major injury that required surgery, but the end of the story could be pretty special when all the Mad Ants’ pieces start to fit together.
“Once we can really can get to mesh and play as a team, it’s definitely scary how good we can be,” he said.
After building their record to 9-2, the Mad Ants hit the road for four straight games staring with a Wednesday rematch at Westchester.