Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pacer / Piston Game

The Mad Ants office made the trek to Indianapolis to watch the Pacers battle the Pistons on Monday. The main reason was to support our guy Walker Russell JR (or Walker D. Russell as the Piston's broadcast team calls him)who was called up in January to the Piston's roster. For new readers of the blog, Walker has spent four out of the past five seasons in and out of a Mad Ants uniform. Walker did not get any minutes in the game, but we were proud to see him in an NBA uniform nonetheless.

We did actually get to see two Mad Ant Alumni play, as both Dahntay Jones and Vernon Macklin played significant minutes. Dahntay had a short stint with the Mad Ants at the end of our inaugural 07-08 season where he dominated and has been on an NBA roster ever since.

Dahntay Jones dunking during an 07-08 Mad Ants game

The very recent Mad Ant alumni Vernon Macklin put up 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block in under 14 minutes of playing time. With Ben Wallace potentially retiring this off season, I think Vernon has a really good chance of sticking around for the Pistons. He is an athletic big, who can alter shots plus help clean the glass.
Vernon Macklin going for the block against Darren Collison on Monday (4-23-12) Photo Credit: Ron Hoskins / Getty Images / NBAE

We stuck around after the game (snuck around is more like it as we almost got kicked out...) to talk to Walker. He seemed in high spirits and was looking forward to the off season, where he will be working hard to earn another season with the Pistons. This will likely entail NBA Summer League in Vegas, then the preseason camp. I think Walker has proven he belongs in the NBA this season, too bad it is not my call! I do think he has a really good shot, as pass first PG's are a rare commodity in the NBA.

Me wearing a jersey dress on the way into the Pacer's game...

I thought it would be funny to wear Walker's Mad Ants jersey to the game. I had a sweatshirt on over it, and was just waiting for Walker to sub in so I could rip off the sweatshirt and start going bananas. Luckily for Walker's sake, this never happened. We did have Walker autograph the jersey and will be giving it to Mad Ants President Jeff Potter as a gift after we have it framed. I can put this in the blog even though it is a surprise as I know Jeff never reads this blog... Have a great weekend! Still working on getting those videos from the road trip up. It's tough when Jeff thinks his newborn daughter is more important than my blog and wants to use the camera to document the new addition to the family...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Post Season Blog

(Walker Russell JR driving on the Atlanta Hawks 4-18-12) (Courtesy Getty Images)

Well I have went and let everyone down again by my lack of blogging. By everyone I mean four people (one being my Mom) who check this blog.

I should have some interesting content up in a week or so as I traveled with the team on the last trip to Canton and did a sort of mini documentary. I plan on posting various clips of it over the off season. I apologize for the delay but my (and by my I mean Jeff Potter's) camera was confiscated as Jeff and his wife are expecting a baby girl today or tomorrow and apparently that is more important than my Mad Ants videos!

It was a nice night on the court last night for the Mad Ants... yes the season is still over... I am talking about our Mad Ants Alumni Walker (D) Russell Jr and Vernon Macklin. The Piston's announcers have taken to calling Walker by his first name and middle initial apparently to distinguish him from his father who also played for the Piston's back in the day.

Last night against the Hawk's Walker had a career high 15 points on just 12 and a half minutes of playing time. This went along with recent Mad Ants big man Vernon Macklin getting 8 points and 9 rebounds in 23 minutes. This was Macklin's first game back on the active roster of the Piston's since being recalled from the Mad Ants. Hopefully this playing time will continue so the Piston's can evaluate the progress he made while down in Fort Wayne where he put up big numbers averaging 14.5 points and 14.3 rebounds over 10 games.

(Macklin battling NBA vet and recent call-up Mikki Moore) (courtesy Getty Images)

Macklin was easily the most dominant NBA player we have seen be assigned to the Mad Ants in our five seasons. Typically putting up those type of numbers in the D-League means good things for your chances at sticking in the NBA. I think many NBA assigned players are surprised about how high the level of play is in the D-League, and this is often proven true when they don't put up the kind of numbers you would expect. It goes to show that just how close the top guys in this league our to playing on the NBA level. Many times it is just a case of you know (or who your agent knows) and which coach saw something in you at a given time.

(Macklin dunking in the Pistons/Hawks game from 4-18-12) (courtesy Getty Images)

The Mad Ants office staff is heading down to the Pacers vs Pistons game on Monday and I will try to get a quick interview with Walker and/or Macklin via the Martz Madness Iphone Interview.

Stay tuned for the aforementioned road game videos, and I will check back in next week after returning from the Pacer's game.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Something New

The Mad Ants are on the road to Canton this morning after a couple tough losses to Erie this past Thursday and Sunday. The Mad Ants will face Canton on the road tomorrow night and as always you can watch live, free, and online via NBA Futurecast. Game tips off at 7pm EST.

Canton has been hot lately winning their last five games, and being 8-2 in the last ten. Notre Dame Alumni and current Cleveland Cavalier Luke Harangody is on assignment with Canton and has been putting up monstrous numbers averaging 19 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. This will be a tough match up for the Mad Ants, but our roster has had an influx of talent so don't be surprised if we steal a win here.

The Mad Ants own NBA assigned player Vernon Macklin played very well on Thursday and Sunday on loan from the Detroit Pistons. After two games he is averaging 15.5 pts, 17 rbs, and 3.5 assists and giving the low post presence we have been lacking all season. For Vernon's first game with the Mad Ants I decided to do something a little different and create a video synopsis following him during the game. I also interjected a few quick interviews with Mad Ants Coaches, Vernon, and the Piston's Basketball Operations staff member Dell Potter.

Take a look below and let me know what you think, this is my first try with a video of this kind so I would love your input. A big thank you to Jeff Potter, Sebastian Pruiti, and Steve Jobs for help getting this put together.

The Mad Ants return home on April 6th and 7th. Tell your friends!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Quick Pre-Game Update

Okay, time again for my monthly blog.... With four home games left, the Mad Ants have loaded up on some new talent which I am sure would have been a tremendous help had we had this line up from the start.

Mad Ants take on Erie tonight (Thursday) and again on Sunday. The starters for the Ants for tonight will most likely be:

Guards: Anthony Goods, Ron Howard

Forwards: Cam Jones, Darnell Lazare

Center: Vernon Macklin (on loan from the Detroit Pistons)

New faces playing tonight will be: Vernon Macklin assigned by the Detroit Pistons. Vernon is a 6'10 four man who was a second round draft pick and played his college ball at Florida. Vernon has a great attitude about his Mad Ants assignment and is looking forward to a chance to get some heavy minutes tonight.

(Macklin laying it in for the Pistons)

Another new addition to the Mad Ants is Stephen Graham. Many Mad Ants fans will remember Graham from his stint with the Pacer's a few seasons ago. Graham is a 6'6 wing man who has some real size to him (muscle not fat!) and will be a welcome addition to the team. He too will make his debut tonight, after just arriving in Fort Wayne yesterday with one practice under his belt which is just "life in the D".

Former Mad Ant Marvin Phillips JR is playing for Erie and was kind enough to do a quick interview for the Martz Madness blog. Marvin was an office and crowd favorite and we are always happy to see him in Fort Wayne.

See everyone tonight! And remember to bring pop tabs on Sunday for the Ronald McDonald House Tabathon to win a free breakfast sandwich from McDonald's and a chance to sit court side!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Video Update

So my blog has fallen off the face of the earth again I fully admit it. My excuse is that I was out saving the world....not sure what Jeff Potter's excuse is! The Mad Ants are back from the All-Star break and return to action tonight in Erie. If you are reading this blog then you already know you can watch FREE, LIVE, and ONLINE via NBA Futurecast. The game tips off at 7:30pm EST.

We have some new faces with the Mad Ants (big surprise!) so let's quickly get everyone up to date on the roster.

Sean Sonderleiter and Sadiel Rojas have both been waived due to injury. Sadiel took a nasty fall in Iowa and will most likely be out for the rest of the season as he suffered a back injury. Sadiel is doing fine and will make a full recovery. He is getting excellent treatment from FWO and doing his physical therapy here in Fort Wayne. Sean is day to day right now. Mike Tisdale was waived due to personal reasons and he will not return to the team.

Devan Downey will return to the active roster after recovering from an ankle injury. He will be joined on the team by two new additions in NC State grad 6'9 Ben McCauley. McCauley has played overseas the past few years and also participated in a couple different NBA Summer League camps.

(Ben McCauley at NC State)

Another addition to the team is 6'8 forward Kevin Coble who Big Ten fans will remember from Northwestern. Let's have Kevin tell you a little about how he ended up on the Mad Ants roster via the Martz Madness I-Phone Interview...

Speaking of I-Phone interviews here are a couple more with Coach Steve Gansey and Darnell Lazare talking about their experience at All-Star weekend and also looking ahead to tonight's game in Erie.

I hope to see everyone on Friday and Saturday at the big Mad Ants home stand as we play Dakota on Friday and LA on Saturday. Tip Off is at 7:30pm both nights. The good news is it looks like LA's star player Gerald Green (2007 NBA Dunk Champ) was called up by the NJ Nets. We have had a real tough stretch this past month but I have faith that the Ants can pull it together and put together a good showing for what will be two of our biggest crowds of the season judging form presale tickets.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Back to the Fort

It feels like it has been a while since the last Mad Ants home game, and rightfully so with the last defense of the Colony being January 17th. The Mad Ants are back on the Coliseum hardwood Thursday & Friday (Feb 2nd/3rd) battling Eastern Conference rival Maine Red Claws.

Besides having a mascot that could pass as the Mad Ant's less cool half-brother... the Red Claws also have a former Mad Ant on the roster in center Anthony Kent.

There was some bad news today, as Mad Ants point guard Tory Jackson had a nasty ankle sprain at practice. It looks like he will be out for roughly three weeks, which is a real shame as Tory had been really stepping up as the starting PG with Walker Russell JR getting called up to the Pistons. That puts recent Mad Ant and Michigan State Spartan Travis Walton as the starter and causing the Mad Ants to sign a player out of the D-League Player pool.

That player is Devan Downey who played his college ball with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Downey finished his college career in 2009-10 averaging 22.5 points to go along with 3.5 assists.
Devan played in Turkey last season and this will be his first foray into the NBA D-League. He will be thrown in the mix and will be dressing for Thursday night's game. He actually will also be arriving on Thursday as I am picking him up from the airport tomorrow morning! That is a common story in the D-League and I hope Downey is a quick study!

Ron Howard is still injured and will be missing this week's home stand. Another loss to the roster is Darington Hobson who was just recalled to the Milwaukee Bucks a few hours ago.

So obviously we will be short on players tomorrow, so if you have ever wanted to play in the D-League show up at the Coliseum tomorrow for the game and Jeff Potter may just make your dream come true! Please note that Jeff Potter's blog was last updated on January 11th... but I guess he has still not went a year between blogs like this fella...(good thing Jeff never reads my blog *sob*)

Walker Russell Jr had the best game of his short NBA career as a Detroit Piston tonight as he put up 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists against the New Jersey Nets in a close 99-96 loss. Walker continues to play big minutes and prove he has earned his right to be on an NBA roster. Walker's NBA Call-UP banner will be going up in the Coliseum concourse tomorrow night and be put up for every Mad Ants home game for the rest of time.

There is all your Mad Ant's news... and I managed to go an entire blog without mentioning you should come Thursday and Friday night to see our brand new Assistant Coach/NCAA National Champion/Olympic Gold Medalist Christian Laettner on the sideline.

Basically you have no reason to miss this Thursday or Friday's game so I will ANTicipate seeing each and every one of your faces there. Tip off for Thursday is 7pm and Friday is 7:30pm. Still working on my Super Hero costume for Friday but I always seem to come through...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Catching Up

So I picked a really bad time to get lazy with blogging eh? The last week has been one of the most eventful weeks in Mad Ants history and I decide to just not blog? What is wrong with me? Don't answer that.

(Photo Copyrights below to Layne Murdoch Jr/NBE/Getty Images)

Big News 1: Walker Russell JR was called up by the Detroit Pistons last week. He received the call while en route to Sioux Falls last weekend for a pair of Mad Ants road games. He basically jumped off the plane, slept four hours then flew to Detroit just in time to barely miss the Piston's shoot around. He was given a crash course by Piston's Coach Lawrence Frank and his staff. Walker then found himself playing 20 plus minutes as back-up point guard against the Memphis Grizzlies last Saturday night.

The word "deserve" gets thrown around quite a bit in many situations which may not always warrant it. As William Munny from Unforgiven said "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it. " Walker EARNED this opportunity. He has played int he D-League off and on for the past six years, just waiting for the right spot to open up... the right situation. I don't think you could write up a better situation than this one. He gets to return to his hometown , to a team he played with in pre-season, and a team that clearly wants him around. He has played three games to date with the Pistons, and has yet to play less than 12 minutes. He has that natural charisma and floor general mentality that makes guys work harder for him knowing he will make it easier for them to score.

Coach Frank paid Walker some nice compliments after the game where they defeated the Portland Trailblazers. Essentially saying Walker was running plays he (Coach Frank) had drawn up 30 seconds prior and running the offense extremely well.

You can tell everyone from the Piston's announcers to his Piston's teammates want Walker to succeed. He is the hometown son of a former Piston getting his first big long overdue shot and everyone is rooting for him. He has quite a few people in Fort Wayne rooting for him too! I think I speak for everyone in the Mad Ants office when I say "DON'T COME BACK".

Walker and the Pistons are back in action tonight taking on LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Most of the Piston's games air on FS Detroit which is Comcast Channel 9 in Fort Wayne. To just think.. ten days ago you could have been watching him in Fort Wayne where tickets start at just $5... (I know I know, most of you were there!)

Big News 2: Christian Laettner is our new Assistant Coach. Many people have asked me how this all happened and I can give you the short version of it as it was a really quite simple process. We had an Assistant Coach job opening and Christian Laettner was looking to get into coaching. Done. It is a great opportunity for our players to learn from a guy who has accomplished so much in his basketball career and can provide pieces of knowledge to help get them to the next level.

I have heard his focus with the team is going to be with the big men and also defense. I think it adds a great dimension to Coach Gansey's staff to have a guy who has played the PF/C position at the highest level work with our bigs and provide all the little tricks of the trade.

From a marketing standpoint it has been a big success for us as well. The story was everywhere from the front page of Yahoo Sports to being in the USA Today. It is always nice to have one of the best college basketball players of all time and an Olympic Gold Medalist on the team. I am expecting to see quite a few Duke fans come out of the woodwork at our home stand next week (Feb. 2nd/3rd). In Sioux Falls, after his first game as Mad Ants Assistant Coach, reportedly over 100 fans waited outside the locker room to get his autograph.

With the whirlwind schedule the team has been on I have only briefly met Coach Laettner when he came into the office yesterday for a Coaches meeting but he came off as a soft spoken genuinely nice guy who really appreciates this opportunity to continue his basketball career. Here is a nice video interview with Coach Laettner disucssing his first impressions of the D-League conducted by Steve Warden at the Journal Gazette from practice yesterday morning.

Also, if you are wondering how Coach Gansey is handling his new role as Head Coach, especially with bringing in such a high profile assistant check out Mr. Warden's article from this morning's Journal Gazette. In short... he relishes it!

Team Notes: A few player additions since the last time I blogged. We have picked up Travis Walton from the player pool to fill the roster spot Walker Russell JR left when getting called up. Walton is a Michigan State alumni who plays point guard and will be backing up Mad Ants starter Tory Jackson. Walton is a former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. He was recently playing with the Dakota Wizards before getting waived. Coach Gansey is very familiar with Walton as he spent some time in Fort Wayne over the summer getting some workouts in with Coach Gansey.

We also just added former Illinois big man Mike Tisdale. Mike is a 7'1 center who was up until recently playing for the Maine Red Claws. Mike will be filling the roster spot left by Jarrid Famous. Jarrid is out for a week or so with a sore knee.

We will be playing tonight on the road against the always dangerous Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Make sure to catch the game on NBA Futurecast online. I cannot say enough great things about this service. I have been having office viewing parties over at my house and we are able to put the game up on my TV via the D-League Center Court App. Just a really nice job the D-League to make it easy to follow your favorite team (The Mad Ants of course!) while they are on the road. Game tips off at 8pm EST.