By John Nolan
Mastodons men’s basketball is on a roll. In a game heard exclusively on 1380TheFan.com Friday night, Purdue Fort Wayne won at Green Bay, 74-55. That marked the ‘Dons sixth consecutive win, a feat the program hadn’t accomplished since the 2018-19 season, led by Jon Konchar, who’s now a standout in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. At that time, a couple of those victories came out-of-conference, including one against a non-Division I opponent. For the last time PFW reeled off six straight league wins, you have to go back to January-February of 2015, when the Mastodons claimed seven Summit League games in a row.
Excited to watch @MastodonMBB continue to grow in 74-55 win at Green Bay! Proud of defensive crowds—13 straight stops, 11 punches, held to 23 points at 1/2! And shared it—19 assists & 13 3’s! #Roadtough pic.twitter.com/fQNjispFIg
— Jon Coffman (@coachcoffman) February 19, 2022
Thanks to their recent surge, the Dons have moved up to fourth in the Horizon League standings. Keep in mind, the top four in the 12-team league will receive an opening-round bye in the HL Tournament, and then host a game in the quarterfinals before the HL’s “Final Four” battles in Indianapolis. With three games left on the schedule for PFW, a lot can still change, especially considering how the league standings are being determined by winning percentage since schools have played an uneven number of contests due to cancelations caused by COVID-19.
Friday’s road triumph followed a 5-0 homestand that was punctuated by an epic, triple-overtime win over first-place Cleveland State on Monday night. In case you missed it, here’s how the biggest moments sounded on 1380 The Fan & 100.9 FM, as called by Brett Rump.
In fact, Monday’s game was so wild, it even led off SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.
— Stanford Steve (@StanfordSteve82) February 15, 2022
Still need more context to fathom just how incredible it was, check this out.
Per @kenpomeroy, Monday's win over Cleveland State had an excitement score of 4.01, the third highest in the nation this season.
It measures "how much the win probability changed over the course of a game"
— Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons Basketball (@MastodonMBB) February 16, 2022
The only games above it on the list were non-conference games in November. So it’s more of a fact than an opinion to say it was the wildest game in the country this season, and that doesn’t even factor in how it was the eighth matchup between the two schools in the last 15 months — more than any other pairing in the nation (and somehow it wasn’t even the first 3OT game between them)!
How are the Dons, who were at one point just 5-7 (1-3) on the season, doing this? Well, the full version is long enough to be its own post, but in short, here’s where they’re really excelling:
- Steals per game: 9.1 (17th in the nation)
- 3s per game: 9.6 (22nd in the nation)
- Free-Throw Shooting: 77% (23rd in the nation)
- Turnovers Forced per game: 16.2 (24th in the nation)
Per the analytics of KenPom.com, PFW has been the Horizon League’s top defensive unit in conference games.
As you’ve heard in pregame and postgame interviews and Mastodon Coaches Shows on 1380 The Fan & 100.9 FM, Coach Coffman is quick to credit his players, notably his senior leaders, for the team’s success, in particular on the defensive end.
Purdue Fort Wayne will look to make it seven consecutive wins Sunday afternoon at Milwaukee. Tip is scheduled for 2:01 p.m., with Brett Rump’s coverage beginning at 1:45 on 1380 The Fan & 100.9 FM. You can also stream the game via 1380TheFan.com. Here’s a preview from GoMastodons.com.