FORT WAYNE – When there is a timeout, and his team gathers around, Indiana Tech men’s basketball coach Al Grushkin will occasionally ask a player or two to step aside so he can see who the opposition is sending onto the floor in order to match up.
I’ve got to say, Guys, stand back,’ so I can see who’s in and remember if (Jordan) Hickman is my point, my wing or my center at that time, Grushkin said. That’s not an exaggeration.
The combination of graduations from last season, recruits who didn’t or couldn’t play and early-season injuries have caused Tech to start what Grushkin calls probably the smallest (college) starting lineup in the country – 5-foot-11, 5-11, 6-1 and two 6-3 guys.
Hickman, a senior with an 11.4 scoring average, and junior Antonio Landers are the 6-3 guys, Jeff Hoskins is 6-1, Henry Sidney and Antonio Cannon are both 5-11, with Cannon jumping center to start the games.
Yet the wee Warriors are 11-2 and take a six-game winning streak into their Saturday meeting against Lourdes (6-4), whose last starting lineup went 5-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-6 and 6-9.
Grushkin said one 6-10 recruit went into the military and another 6-8 recruit didn’t pass a physical.
Senior forward Melvin Brooks, 6-5, suffered a knee injury and missed six games. And three 6-8 players off last year’s team graduated.
Last year we were the bruise brothers, Grushkin said.
We were pounding, pounding, pounding. We were smash-mouth basketball.
This year it’s Smurf basketball.
We still have talented kids; we’re just not big, so we’ve got to find other ways to do it, Grushkin said.
As usual with Grushkin’s teams at Tech, defense has been the answer. The Warriors are third in the NAIA in defensive points allowed (54.08), tied for fifth in defensive field goal percentage (.382) and – despite the height – tied for 10th in blocked shots per game (4.46).
It’s very unique, Hickman said. You look at it, and most people think that we don’t have the size, but we look at it that we have five guards who can all handle the ball, who can all shoot, who can all score. We can use our quickness to our advantage. That’s been the thing that’s helped us out a lot.
Athletes of note
Trine senior wide receiver Mario Brown will play in the inaugural Dream Bowl on Jan. 21 at Salem Stadium in Roanoke, Va. The game is a showcase of NCAA Division III and NAIA players. Indiana Tech’s Darryl Marlow, Dontaey Paige (Heritage) and Adella King were named WHAC indoor track and field athletes of the week for their performances at the University of Findlay Oiler Opener. Marlow had a 23-5 1/4 long jump, while Paige had a 6.88 and King a 7.41 in the 60-meter dash. Trine senior Ian Jackson was named the MIAA men’s basketball player of the week. In two Trine wins, Jackson averaged 27.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals. Tech’s Darcie Fay
lor (Carroll), for volleyball, and Morgan Delagrange (Leo) and Traycie Linker (New Haven), for soccer, were named to the All-NAIA Scholar-Athlete teams. To qualify, players must have at least a 3.5 grade-point average.