Let me start out by admitting how wrong I was on the IPFW Mastodons this season. I thought they would finish 5th to 7th in the Summit League standings and they finished in 1st. So go them.
From what I saw and read about John Konchar, I thought he was going to be a great player for IPFW, but I didn’t think he was going to get close to averaging a double-double as a freshman. I also did not think that Max Landis would be deadly enough to get on the All Summit League 1st or 2nd teams, let alone become the conference Player of the Year. The ‘Dons really tricked me. They tricked everyone after losing Mo Evans for the second half of the year. Though, maybe with Evans they would have had the depth to get through the Summit League tournament. Also maybe with Evans, Landis and Konchar and some others would not have scored as many points as they did and looked as good as they did. Either way, they found a way to win 12 Summit League games with what they had.
Anyway, the ‘Dons are going to have Mo Evans back next season, so people think they are going to automatically be great again. Players being forced off a team due to academics and then eventually coming back does not always pan out…especially when the team is needing that guy to be in a leaderships role. Like dude, we already figured out a way to win without you, do we know you? You’re not Han Solo here to save the rebellion after already backing out… Is that an applicable reference? I am not big into Star Wars.
IPFW is going to lose three players that averaged more than 10 points per game. Landis was one of the best three point shooters in the nation: he made the 2nd most threes in all of division one, and he was in the top 30 for three point field goal percentage. Losing someone like that is hard to just make up quickly. Senior guard Michael Calder averaged 10 points per game, and probably did not receive enough credit for taking over for some of the scoring lost in the absence of Mo Evans. Calder averaged 4.7 points per game in his junior season, after the loss of Evans he was able to averaged 14.4 points per game in 2016. He also had three separate 20 point scoring performances in league play. Joe Reed also averaged 10.5 points and nearly 5 rebounds. Reed wasn’t the most flashy player, nor did he make shot after shot after shot, but he seemed to always hit a big shot when it was needed most. He really seemed like one of the more consistent players in the Summit League over the last few years. You knew what you were going to get with Reed, he was the C-3PO of the team. Seriously, I think Star Wars is dumb.
Losing three key guys from a regular season champion can be hard to make up, and the ‘Dons have some likely candidates to leave the team as well. The team will have Xzavier Taylor, a 6’9″ post player who transferred from Bradley, to help make up for the loss of Joe Reed. Taylor will be a junior, and was not known for being a jump shooter at Bradley, like Reed was. The ‘Dons loved their small ball style in 2015-2016, and with Taylor they might not be able to play that way in 2016-2017. Them loving their small ball style is from reading or listening to anything Jon Coffman says, the man is an open book, he is probably comparable to some Star Wars character that talks a lot that no one likes, but damn it, he gets the job done. The ‘Dons will also get Bryson Scott, 6’1″ transfer from Purdue, who should also help reload this roster a bit. Scott was also not known for being a three point specialist at Purdue…so the look of this team is going to be different. Like, maybe they will look like Omaha this season and be more of a team that tries to get to the free throw line more than being dependent on hitting threes. It’s hard to tell how good of a player Scott could be for IPFW, but I know I would be banging a drum and screaming “WE’RE GOING TO BE SOLID, WE GOT A DUDE FROM PURDUE” if Scott ended up with the Mavericks. I need to buy a drum. How much is a drum?
Losing Landis is huge, as well as losing Reed and Calder, but the team still has Evans and Konchar and with the addition of two transfers; the team will have talent. This is redundant to anything I said here, just like the Force Awakens. Another player that came out of his shell after Mo Evans was no longer playing was junior DeAngelo Stewart – who averaged 12 points per game in the last 14 games of the season. The ‘Dons can still finish in the top of the league in 2016-2017, but will they again not have the depth to play in a tournament format at the end of the season?
The ‘Dons have one more roster spot that they can fill, and possible one or two guys that can still transfer out. There are also plenty of guys originally from the state of Indiana that are transferring away from their teams right now.
Chandler White is a 6’2″ guard that would be a sophomore in 2016-2017 who is transferring from Toledo, and he is originally from Fort Wayne. He was hardly used at Toledo, only playing in 8 games, but maybe the IPFW coaching staff could really work with him in a redshirt year. This is just one guy that announced his transfer this week, there are plenty of guys from bigger universities that are still announcing their transfers. The ‘Dons will also have a 6’10 freshman from the state of Michigan to add to their roster that had offers from Detroit, Marist, and Kennesaw State. There will also be an addition of a point guard, who is also from the state of Michigan, that held an offer from IUPUI.
Like most teams, the ‘Dons are going to have a slightly new look to their team, I think they’re actually going to have one of the most experienced teams in the Summit League next season…as most teams will be filled with juniors and sophomore, the ‘Dons will have the most seniors with 4 on their roster. That is if no 2016-2017 seniors transfers out, or if anyone gets a 5th year transfer.