According to the week’s schedule distributed to the 15 players who were assigned to report, Monday’s first gathering of the 2012-13 Mad Ants was expected to be more of a getting-to-know you session with some handshakes, some man-hugs, some shooting, and so long.
Instead, it was a lot of running up and down the Concordia Theological Seminary floor and push-ups.
“Coach said it was just shooting today,” veteran guard Ron Howard said. “It was a little shocking at first, but it was good to get out there.”
First-year coach Duane Ticknor didn’t waste time because he said there isn’t much to spare.
“We don’t have a lot of time to get ready, and we want to really emphasize the way we’re going to try to play – take advantage of our speed and athleticism,” Ticknor said. “We’ve got bigs who can run the floor.”
One of the bigs is Tommy Smith, a 6-foot-10 forward who was the only Ants player missing, because of personal reasons. All the others hit the floor running, in a most literal sense.
Dissatisfied the way the three-man weave was being held, which included a dribble, three times Ticknor ordered the players to the floor to do push-ups.
During shooting drills, he encouraged players to run hard as possible, but shoot with control. And when the activity slowed, Ticknor shouted, “I’ve got guys who put it on cruise again. Push yourself!”
And when several were showing signs of being weary, Ticknor said, “If you’re tired already, it’s going to be a long week – or a short week; it’s up to you.”
Meaning they could be elsewhere.
“I’ll warn ’em once, and the second time they’ll come out of the game,” Ticknor said. “We’re going to run and be relentless with it, so we wanted to set the tone right away.”
In addition to Howard, players returning who were with the Ants for all or part of last year’s 14-36 record were guards Walker Russell Jr. and Sadiel Rojas and center Sean Sonderleiter.
Most notable among the new faces was 6-10 JaJuan Johnson, the former Purdue standout who played with the NBA Boston Celtics last season, but was released from the Houston Rockets’ camp.
The Ants will practice twice daily through Thursday, practice once Friday, and play an exhibition game at Canton Saturday.
They will begin their regular season Nov. 23 against Erie.