There aren’t a lot of opportunities for Fort Wayne men’s basketball coach Jon Coffman to go deep into his bench during the non-conference season, let alone during the more difficult Summit League portion of the Mastodons’ schedule. However, Monday’s game against NCAA Division III Olivet College provided a rare time for Coffman to reward 11 of his players, some with rest and some with playing time.
“There are still guys that are playing less than I want them to play,” Coffman said following Saturday’s win over conference foe Denver. “We’ve got a really good bench. It’s tough; we’ve got guys that we’ve won a lot of games with that I ride in some segments. I want to keep developing (the bench), because we are better.”
The Mastodons improved to 14-4 with a 115-60 thumping of Olivet in front of 906 fans at the Gates Sports Center Monday.
Coffman gave starting guard Mo Evans 26 minutes and he led Fort Wayne with 21 points and eight assists, but no other starter played more than 20 minutes. Starting guards Kason Harrell and Bryson Scott combined for 25 points, while forward John Konchar grabbed eight boards and dished out eight assists to lead Fort Wayne and center Brent Calhoun had six rebounds.
One of those players that make up Fort Wayne’s “really good bench” is junior forward Jordon King.
King played more minutes Monday (26) than he had in the previous five games combined (19), but it isn’t necessarily because he isn’t a good player.
“Jordan King is very talented,” Calhoun said recently. “When he is on the floor, he makes plays.”
King not only scored 12 points against Olivet, he also dished out six assists.
“We need that energy off of the bench,” Calhoun continued, “which he gives us. He’s always sitting in the gaps (defensively), he rebounds really well, he’s very athletic and he can shoot it.
“There is not too much more you can ask for from him.”
But Coffman is going to.
Like Calhoun, Coffman does like a lot of what King brings to the floor. However, after transferring from North Idaho Junior College, as well as sitting out last season, he does believe that there is going to be an adjustment period for the 6-foot-4 forward.
“He is showing urgency about his play,” Coffman said. “There are bursts in transition and awareness; the offensive end has never been an issue with him, it’s just playing at our level, the Division I level, with the intensity that you have to have at the defensive end.”
King has played in 13 games this season, including double digit minutes in five of them. In those games he is scoring almost five points per game.
“He has,” Coffman said, “in small segments, really developed our confidence, and he’s shown us small segments that he’s raised his level of play.”
In the recent two-point win over Denver, King only played five minutes, but he made his one shot and also got to the free throw line and sank a pair of free throws. He is shooting 50 percent from the floor and has made eight 3-pointers this season.
“He stepped up,” Coffman said following the Denver game, “and made a huge 3. He got to the free throw line and he did some nice things on defense.”
Coffman has played nine guys on the roster at least 16 of the 18 games, so he isn’t afraid to utilize a lot of bodies throughout the remainder of the season.
“We go into every game,” Coffman said, “I have confidence in all the guys.”
Also contributing in Monday’s win was Jax Levitch (14 points, five rebounds), Charles Ruise Jr. (13 points, five rebounds) and Racine Talla (10 points, five rebounds).
Fort Wayne gets back league play Saturday at South Dakota at 2 p.m.
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