AP NEWS

Uthoff continues to shine for Mad Ants

March 4, 2017

On a night in which the Mad Ants retired Ron Howard’s No. 19, Tyler Hansbrough made his Fort Wayne debut and Jordan Loyd proved, yet again, he can be the go-to point guard, Jarrod Uthoff stood out once more.

In the 106-94 victory over the Westchester Knicks, Uthoff had 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting and racked up 20 rebounds. That was close to what I believe is the Mad Ants’ rebounding record – 24 by Rob Kurz in 2010 – and further proof that the Toronto Raptors may have been too quick to let Uthoff go.

Not only did the Raptors cut Uthoff in training camp so he could go to the D-League with Raptors 905, but he was then dealt to Fort Wayne for Christian Watford and a draft pick.

The Mad Ants out-rebounded Westchester 60-43 tonight and it could be fun to see opposing teams try to deal with the Mad Ants’ in-the-paint nucleus of Uthoff, Hansbrough and all-star Alex Poythress.

“Adding Tyler, that helps a lot with our physicality,” said Loyd, who had 17 points, nine assists and only two turnovers, one game after he set career highs for points (30) and assists (11), all after Julyan Stone left the Mad Ants to play in Italy.

“I think it’s great. We can always use somebody who will bang around the goal and help us rebound. I think down the stretch, it’s going to be great. Defense, we learning to play team defense and none one-on-one defense, so it’s looking pretty good.”

Hansbrough, who hadn’t played since last season with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, said: “I’m in great shape. That’s not an issue. It’s just a matter of coming back, getting my touch and getting the game feel and controlling my nerves before the games.”

The Mad Ants, who have won three in a row to improve to 22-15, play Saturday at Canton, Ohio.

“I felt a little rusty, to be honest with you,” Hansbrough said. “But that’s what happens when you haven’t played in awhile. You shake it off and it’ll come back to me rather quickly.”

It shouldn’t be overlooked that Stephan Hicks had 18 points tonight. And Trey McKinney Jones added 14.

While Bentil is super talented, he really needed possession of the ball a lot and took a lot of shots. His absence has opened things up for everyone else. It’s just been a matter of Loyd being able to run the point – amazing to think at the University of Indianapolis last year, he was a shooting guard – and for the blue-collar guys to get the rebounds.

That’s been happening and the Mad Ants have been winning.

jcohn@jg.net