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IPFW
at Western Illinois
When: 8 p.m. today
Radio: 1380 AM

Mastodon mission clear in final week

– Take care of your own business.

That’s a clear enough mandate, right?

That’s as crystal as it gets as the college basketball season heads for March, where hardly anything is ever clear. And so the IPFW men’s basketball team will take it as a positive that the mission this last week of the regular season is so clear, and that completing it is equally clear.

“Here’s what I told our team,” IPFW coach Tony Jasick says, as his team prepares to finish an historic regular season with road games at slumping Western Illinois and Omaha. “I said ‘Guys, at the end of the day, if you prepare the right way and play your best – prepare to play your best, and then play your best – the next two games, nothing bad can happen.

“ ‘But if you don’t prepare or you’re worried about other things and you don’t care of your own business and prepare to play your best, then you’re bringing a whole bunch of things into the equation that you’ve got no control over.’ ”

In other words: They’ll try not to think about the fact that if they win out, and Denver loses one of two, the Mastodons will not only have ascended the unheard heights of 22 victories, they’ll be the No. 2 seed in the Summit League tournament. They’ll try only to think about duplicating twice more what they did at IUPUI last Saturday, where they shrugged off a dreary 1-3 stretch with a thorough beating of the Jaguars.

The final was 84-60, and it maybe wasn’t that close. The Mastodons shot 64.8 percent (35 of 54), including a withering 72.4 percent (21 of 29) in the second half, when they buried IUPUI under a 48-point avalanche. Even more, they dominated the Jaguars inside, outrebounding them 30-21 and getting a combined 24 points and 15 rebounds from Steve Forbes and Joe Reed.

“I thought we did a good job on both ends, really,” Jasick says. “Obviously our numbers offensively were really good in the second half, which helped. But I thought we played well.

“I thought, having our bye, week we handled it very well. And hopefully we can carry that over to this week.”

It’ll be a week on the road again for the Mastodons, who are 6-7 away from home. The flip side to that is they’re playing two teams that are clearly struggling; Western Illinois has lost its six games, and Omaha is in the throes of a four-game skid.

So the table is set, if IPFW plays with the sort of tunnel vision it’s played with most of the year.

“I think we’ve done a good job of that throughout the year,” Jasick says. “And focusing on what is important here, not just the weekend, but also moving forward.”

bensmith@jg.net

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