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Local colleges

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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
IPFW’s Joe Reed, left, from Greenwood, says IUPUI might be the Mastodons’ rival.

IPFW focuses on win, not rival

– Rivalry game?

From what left field did that notion come?

“I don’t know. I don’t really think in terms of that,” IPFW men’s basketball coach Tony Jasick says, when you ask if IPFW vs. IUPUI, two hours apart in the same state, is one of those rivalry deals.

“I think it might be,” says sophomore forward Joe Reed, who would know if anyone would, since he hails from just south of Indianapolis in Greenwood.

So that’s one Don’t Know and one Might Be, and for that you can either blame or credit the tunnel vision that’s gotten IPFW to 15-6 and 3-1 in the Summit League. Because when Jasick says he doesn’t really think in those terms, he doesn’t.

“We have a ton of respect for their players, and I think coach (Todd) Howard does a good job with his team,” Jasick said this week. “But we’re not focused so much on it being a rivalry; we’re focused on it being the next game, and a big game here at home in league play.”

That might be the circumstances talking more than anything. The Mastodons, after all, are coming off a 75-61 loss at South Dakota last week, only their second loss since Dec. 3. IUPUI (5-16, 0-4), on the other hand, has lost nine of its last 10 with a roster that includes six freshmen or redshirt freshmen and only two seniors (second-leading scorer Mitch Patton and Donovan Gibbs) who are playing big minutes.

So the Mastodons see this as a get-back-on-track game. The Jaguars, meanwhile, see it as a get-on-the-track game, having lost all four of their Summit League games so far by an average of 18 points.

They’re coming off a 66-45 loss at Denver, a team the Mastodons beat 67-64 nine days ago.

“Challenging road trip,” Jasick says of the 1-1 Western swing. “We did not play our best on the road trip. Hopefully we can bounce back and play well on Saturday.”

Because, well, it’s another conference game. And, yes, it does matter that it’s IUPUI, because both schools mine the same recruiting area; besides Reed, the Mastodons’ top rebounder, IPFW has four players from the Indianapolis area, including freshman Mo Evans from Cathedral, the Mastodons’ leading 3-point shooter.

“I think for us with recruiting and everything, I think it’s important we play well against the in-state teams,” Jasick says. “And IUPUI is one of them.”

So maybe there will be a little more edge today.

“It always seems to be a little more serious of a game,” Reed says. “It’s a real key win we always want to have.”