Crash Davis taught us in “Bull Durham” that clichés are boring – “That,” he said, “is the point” – and the Mad Ants have been using one of Davis' favorites these days as they tell us they have to take it one day at a time if they want to make the postseason.
The Mad Ants have only nine games remaining in the regular season, beginning 5 p.m. today at Memorial Coliseum against the Grand Rapids Drive, and they have to be extremely successful to even have a chance to make the postseason for the first time since 2018.
“We've just got to really focus on going a game at a time,” said Stephan Hicks, who had a team-best 30 points in Friday's 116-112 victory over College Park at the Coliseum.
“We got this one on Friday and then we've got to focus on the next one Sunday. We don't want to look in the long run – 'Oh, we need this and this' – if we just focus on one-game-at-a-time, we'll be fine.”
The Mad Ants (19-22) went into Saturday night 21/2 games back of Capital City (22-20) for the sixth and final playoff spot out of the Eastern Conference. And three teams – Delaware (21-20), College Park (20-21) and Raptors 905 (20-21) – sat between Fort Wayne and Capital City in the standings.
“I've told the guys that this is huge down the stretch, these last 10 games, and we can't be worried about other teams,” Mad Ants coach Steve Gansey said. “I'm the one who looks at that. They shouldn't. The guys have got to take it one game at a time. When we're home, we've got to take care of business.”
Part of the emphasis is taking advantage of opportunities. On Friday, for example, they faced a Skyhawks team missing Brandon Goodwin and Marcus Derrickson.
“You have to take advantage and we did that (Friday). We won the game and that's what we're trying to do,” Gansey said.
The Mad Ants should still have Alize Johnson down from the NBA's Indiana Pacers, after he totaled 20 points and six rebounds Friday, and Brian Bowen II should be back from the Pacers after making his first NBA start Friday. In a 108-102 victory over the Chicago Bulls, Bowen was 0 for 4 with four rebounds in 14 minutes.
The Mad Ants have won only two of their last eight games. Grand Rapids (25-16) has won four of its last five games.