Mad Ants to call Trine home today
If the Mad Ants make it to the G League championship series : something that hasn’t happened since 2015 : team president Tim Bawmann believes there won’t be available dates for his team to play at Memorial Coliseum.
That doomsday scenario might have come to fruition last year, Bawmann said, though the Mad Ants lost in the conference semifinals to the Erie BayHawks before it could.
Now there’s a facility in northeast Indiana, the MTI Center at Trine University in Angola, that checks a lot of boxes: it’s state-of-the-art; meets the NBA’s standards for play; should have available dates if needed; and, perhaps most importantly, could help the Mad Ants grow their regional fan base.
“We’ve really engaged the Angola Chamber of Commerce and gotten to know their members, and at the end of the day, it is about trying to build a fan base and I think this will help with that,” Bawmann said.
At 5 p.m. today, the Mad Ants (9-9) will play at the 3,500-seat MTI Center against the Greensboro Swarm (10-9). Students are on holiday break, so today’s game will be more a community event than a Trine one.
For the Mad Ants, much of what’s going on is getting a feel for the facility and what it would be like if they need to come back during the postseason.
“Had we made it to the championship round last year, we would have had to play there and this really gives us a chance go up there and work out whatever kinks there are,” Bawmann said. “The last thing I want to do is go up there in the playoffs this year, having not been there before, and have the game be on national TV and have something go wrong.”
The $13.7 million MTI Center, which opened Jan. 3, is home to Trine’s basketball, bowling and esports teams.
As of Friday night, about 1,500 tickets were available for today’s game. Tickets cost $15.
“It’s been a lot more heavy lifting than I thought it was going to be. Sometimes you draw stuff up on paper and think, ‘This is going to be a really cool idea,’ but this has been a lot more work than I thought it would be,” Bawmann said, adding that the Mad Ants have had to get things like G League-ready scoring systems, security, signage and equipment all from Fort Wayne to Angola : for both teams.
The closest the Mad Ants have ever come to doing something like this was a preseason game in Winona Lake at Grace College in 2008, but that didn’t require anything near the legwork.
Meanwhile, the Mad Ants are coming off a 115-100 loss Friday at the Coliseum to the Delaware Blue Coats that had coach Steve Gansey bemoaning a lack of intensity by some of his players.
Asked how he can fix that, Gansey said: “You continue to talk about it, you continue to show them on film and you continue to have individual conversations with guys. I can call plays and I can call timeouts, but I can’t go out there and fight for them and stuff like that. It’s got to come from down deep. And it’s got to hurt a little bit or else it’s not going to stick to them.”
Stephan Hicks said ramping up the defensive intensity would help.
“It starts with wanting to get stops,” Hicks said. “We’ve got to have that mindset of wanting to stop somebody and we didn’t have that (Friday). Once we get that mindset that we’re not going to allow teams to score easy buckets or score any buckets on the court, we’ll be fine.”